May 20th: Here I go. Entering the one place I have been dreading this entire trip. It seems as if everything has
been building up to this event. DRC. Yet, to be completely honest, the fear I originally felt has diminished somewhat. This
place, this "frightening" place, has just become another amazing landmark on an apparently "frightening" part of the African
continent where, I must add, the people are so amazingly friendly and giving, weird.
That bit of drivel over with, I saw blind people getting beaten today...Yes, blind people. I saw a kid, about twelve, getting hit
with the buckle end of a policemans belt, and, I saw one man.... I wish I could have taken a picture... One man, amongst all the
chaos, one man made a stand... The policeman tried to hit him with a sjambok and he stopped it, he caught it, and he stepped
in. He wasn't necessarily a big man, but he was bigger than the cop, and he was shrouded in an aura of confidence. His body screamed violence, yet he never said a word, he just stared. His eyes burned as he stared down into the cops...The fight was
ended before it had begun as the cop turned on to smaller prey. A smaller prey that had banded together and gained a
measure of confidence from that one man... All of this just to get onto the ferry to DRC...
By 12pm we were on the ferry and crossing, it was a half hour ride to the other side where we found everything stringently
controlled and organised. It had the feel of a toned down and sanitised German concentration camp. People Embarking
were herded down a narrow, steel girded passageway, while those disembarking were released into a yard where they had
to go about visa processing and car sterilising, yes car sterilising, and by they I mean us, because "officials" didn't seem to be
bothering anyone but the new foreigners with the "special condition" car serilisation. And, by "official" I mean someone who
was dressed like an official, but once he had walked off with our documents and we enquired as to his whereabouts with a real official they didn't know anything about him.Don't worry, we got our stuff back, the real official ran off and fetched it, and this is getting confusing so I'll move on...
Kerry, "the Korean" we have been travelling with, got detained. We said it was going to happen, and he just had to prove us right here. The chromosome deficient half tan has been travelling through the west coast using both his British passport and Chinese one. So inevitably he cocked up and gave them his British pass in DRC when he had been stamped out of the Congo with his Chinese passport. Both passports were confiscated and he was left trying to talk his way out in broken chinkie-French pigeon english. Eventually Kees went to help him while the rest of us negotiated with the health officials. What was eventually agreed upon is that we would sanitise our own vehicles because, apparently, our truck is the medical vehicle in a convoy for charity - we have all the necessary facilities, like a cattle sprayer and Dettol. Once we had finished Kees returned with Kerry, he had managed to bribe the official into letting us go. During the negotiation Kees had realised that the guy at passport control had a cough, so he told him that we had a medical team in our convoy (us) and that we would give him some cash, as well as fix up his cough, he agreed. Kees came to us and asked for medicine that would fix a cough, when he returned to the guy he was carrying: a strip of outdated strepsils, a sachet of rehydrating powder and Neurofen! .
We were finally free! but it was too late to head for Matadi now, so we organised a policeman as a guide and he led us to the Grand hotel. Initially they weren't going to allow us to camp but finally succumbed when Ben said that he would pay for a room at same crazy, exorbitant price that I am too afraid to repeat. The rest of us camped in the parking lot.
May 21st: We left Kinshasa before the sun had risen and began the 200km stretch to Matadi and the Angolan Border. We
were hoping to make it in time to get to the Angolan consulate and begin the visa applications, unfortunately, as this is Africa,
visa applications had to be made before 3pm and we were too late. So, tired and dejected we drove the short distance to the
Catholic mission where they let us camp in the centre court.
May 22nd: We were at the consulate the moment it opened, however, the person who wasn't there was the Angolan delegate. so we waited, and waited. At around 2pm he arrived and said we could begin the application process. We all had to fill in forms and hand over our passports. we were also informed that when we returned in the morning to collect our passports that we'd all have to undergo interviews before our applications would be approved. Alex made a chocolate cheesecake for supper.