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Published: February 28th 2008
After the Ngongo border post we stopped at another checkpoint and got another stamp then had lunch literally on the road and the kids start pouring in, after lunch Kirsten gave them the left overs and total chaos as everyone tried to grab some and even went in to our trash to salvage some cans and jars etc. sad thing to see, we told them to stop scavenging but wouldnt so we have to take the trash back to the truck quickly. Moved on from there to another checkpoint this time in the town of Nyanga. We were told by Tony the guy refused to stamp the truck carnet because he is already off duty and this is only 3pm, we have to pay 10,000 dibdobs if we want it stamped now or wait til tomorrow, Tony made us set up our tents in the front of the office hut and pretend we are camping there for the night, the corrupt official did not know what to do and finally calle Tony back in and stamped the carnet, so off we go a little show of resilience keeps this guys honest. Off we drove again to several towns most of the
kids and the women wave at us smiling some of the men seem angry to see us and making gestures even a mock shooting us with a gun gesture, not really pleaant we just ignore them, we found a small catholic church and we asked permission to camp there for there for the night, Dave and I are cooking, and everyone from the village came to watch us It feels like being on the set of a live cook show like "Ready Set Cook".Somehow we managed to serve dinner amidst the flying bugs, and a snake scare on the banana bush near the kitchen and yeah the thousand spectators.Difficult to eat as they watch us and the kids begging to be fed, to be honest we only had enough to ourselves and as uncomfortable as it is we just tried to pretend they weent there, I feel compassion for them but we ourselves are poor travellers living off a truck, its a lose lose situation. The night was humid we struggled to fall asleep then rain came around 3am and went on til about 10am , we stayed till the rain stopped.
We had an early lunch of cup
a soup and noodles then we gave some coffee and sugar to the pastor's wife who kindly let us stay for the night and she has the biggest smile of appreciation and the neighbors came in to investigate the gift as if saying you are very lucky. Time to move on and the whole village bade us goodbye. As we drive through potholes on sticky dodgy roads we encountered a stuck truck on the side of the road, seems like it skidded off, we got stuck a bit and they helped us to get through but we could not stop and tow them as we will get stuck in the mud as well, the truck is not powerful enough to drag them, this Tony explained to one an who spoke perfest English and off we went the women passengers of this truck raised their arms in dissapointment as we drive past. Stopped at a well to fill up the jerry cans. Then drove on and the terrain turned into savannah then a semi dense forest, then rolling grassy hills the cause of deforestation i think.. Stopped at another checkpoint in Kibangou and camped at a logging place near a river.
Drove on again the next morning, we found ourselves driving through dense forest as we follow a logging road, lots of deep potholes but no problem for the truck, then as we turned on a bend we found a truck with the University of Reading logo andturns out a German guy is doing research in that area, seems very pleasant and helpful, gave us advice on the roads and even told us that Americans can get an Angola visa easily if I seek help from the US embassy, so Di figured it is worth a try. said we should be in Pointe Noir early evening as we hit a tarmac road it will be faster but we didnt and ended staying to camp for the night at a Socofran compound, i think they used this place for logging trucks to spend the night in. A bit of rain during the night.
Left camp early and drove on and eventually about an hour later got to a junction and turned left for the tarmac road, everything went smoothly the scenery is gorgeous green forest, a couple of checkpoints then we hit a bad checkpoint manned by corrupt policemen, they were
trying there best to find fault so we can bribe them to get out of it, all our papers are in order. On our passports they looked for the Gabon visa, entry and exit, having showed them, thay asked for the yellow card certificate, they took mine and when he saw I was vaccinated in 2003 he motioned in FRench that it is no good, apparently in this country it is only good for 3 years, fed up, Simon showed them the explanation on the card which was also in French that says good for 10 years!!! He shut up after that but still check evryone's card, then asked for a tourism certificate at that point Tony said to him we have our visa and that is all you will need! Having exhausted all avenues to extract a bribe he huddled with the 2 other guys and ldecided to let us go. Arrivd in Pointe Noire and looks like a very busy city, we found the place we were to camp and settled in.
Weve been here 4 days now and our main purpose of trying to get the Angolan visa came to a dissapointing halt, they will not
issue visas to travel overland but no straight explanation, we were told to get them at the border post in Matadi and so that is what we will try, I even called the US embassy/consulate in Brazzaville to get advice and possibly help but to no avail, the vice consul is apparently in the DRC and the lady I spoke to said she cant understand why people would want to travel Africa by overland truck, so I gave her the Oasis website for her to check on the validity of our plea, I understand where she is coming from, she cant trust any American asking for help especially by phone to be valid and legal,as much as i pleaded I did not go anywhere she gave me advice about roads to Kinshasa if we ever decide to try there other than that a sad apology but she cant do a thing. So we must try other ways to get to Namibia with the truck, options included shipping the truck and we could possibly get on the ship as well to Walvis Bay, Namibia but then next ship out is on March 18th and not going south, so scratched that, flight
to Windhoek costs about 800 US so will try to avoid it as well, last resort is to just drive through, Tony and Di are constantly in touch with the office in the UK trying to plot our next step there is a travel warning for the DRC so the truck insurance might not cover us so we are waiting for the underwritters to give us a go signal, Cabinda the Angolan enclave surrounded by DRC is a no go they will deny us transit visas there says the Angolan consulate, so really we are stuck until we figure out the best way to get ther overland, one possible good news is that another overland truck"African Trails" is just behind us and well try to eet up with them if we ended up travelling through the hotspot areas as there is security in numbers, they crossed Congo yesterday but we lost contact with them at the moment, and hopefully the next time I write we are successfully in Namibia, got to run Dave is waiting for me as we need to do Truck food shopping for tonight.
Update: We just heard from the truck insurance that the underwritters agreed
JEN CHECKING HOW DEEP THE HOLE IS WHILE TONY LOOKS ON
to insure the truck to get through the DRC and so from here in Pointe Noire we shall drive to Brazzaville, cross the border to DRC via the Congo river ferry to Kinshasa and drive on straight to the border at Matadi and secure our transit visas to Angola and drive like crazy before it expires and make it hopefully on time at the Namibian border. Wish us luck.....
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