May 23rd: We attempted to leave early this morning, however, all the children that come here to attend the mission school were doing a crazy circular ritual dance. There were entire segregated hunting parties of the buggers who would fan out and either surround you or, in pairs of two, stalk you and monitor your every movement. So many of the little midget demons jumping around, chanting and generally causing ruccas, and to boot, blocking us in. So we had to wait, and I had to try remain calm and collected as they proceeded to circle around me and just stare. Children scare me...
Once we had escaped the clutches of the mission kids we sped across town to the consulate, inevitably to wait, but trying to remain optimistic nonetheless. We did wait, luckily not as long as anticipated (around 10am) and it was time for the interviews. The whole thing was just one big painful exercise in futility that eventually broke out in squabbling by team Canada with the officials. We had just finished with the interviews and there was the obligatory last minute price increase, and I don't know if it's just our special Canadians, or Canadians in general, but it changes them. They become crazy people, wild men! and Brandon became that proverbial Canadian wild man as he demanded receipts for the newly acquired visas, just to throw them back at the somewhat startled Angolan delegate, while shouting some obscure profanities that just went right over their heads.
So, visa's stamped and acquired we were chased out the gate of the consulate, the delegate was shouting blue murder but not one of us was being stopped, he was completely ignored as people climbed into their cars and sped off. Our only concern now was wether we could reach a border crossing before the border control receives the call from the consulate concerning our unruly conduct (hopefully the phones aren't working - did I ever mention that Matadi is a shit-hole). We raced to the border at Noqui. It's tar a good portion of the way, you reach a village.............. and take a right turn onto dirt roads. at this turn they sold monkeys in cages... I never really got a good look at the blighter, but apparently he was quite cute. Anyway, they were offering the monkey to Kees and inadvertently handed it to him, he immediately took advantage of the situation and drove off. We were following up behind the truck having a good chuckle at the guy running full tilt to catch up to the truck and get his monkey slave back.
We reached the congolese border control, easy passage. The Angolan side, much the same. Unfortunately, here is where the next few days entries become very dull, I say this because we had only five days to cross from the northernmost border of Angola to the southernmost into Namibia.
The rest of this day was just a collage of dust, sweat, discomfort, boredom, patience while always waiting for Kees's faulty truck to catch up and potholes. We drove straight from the embassy in Matadi at 11am to Noqui at the border, crossed and went from there southwest to the coast. At around 8pm and in absolute darkness we pulled into a powerless village. Ben had been pulled up at a roadblock and was being spoken to by a policeman who was quite obviously drunk and touting an AK. According to Ben, while speaking to the cop a local just came strolling up and told him to ignore the cop and drive because he was drunk. weird. The town is called N'zeto and our campsite was on the beach just outside the town in a Southerly orientation. It was a beautiful sight. The waves crashing, the fresh air - if only I could get rid of this niggling paranoia about landmines.
May 24th: up at 5 and driving... down down down... further and further... there were some nice tarred sections. I hear the chinese are rebuilding these roads. Apparently the local elections are on, we got caps. I rode in the truck, we kept everybody waiting - Patrick was angry, Ben seems irritated too, I bet theres going to be talk of leaving Kees behind...Bing Bing Bing we have a winner, and what is your prize? a scrumptious lunch at the yacht club in Luanda after the long days travel, with beer, and humoured conversation, much resembling that of a survivor elimination - my votes on Kees.
We were camping in the yacht clubs wrecked parking lot. It's in the docks and really crappy, just rubble and shite (actually, that pretty much sums up Luanda - I'm gonna stop while I'm ahead.)
May 25th: After some heated debate, followed by apologising and hugs it was decided that we would stick together. Of
course! It was never really an issue, it was just the harshness of non-stop driving... That said - Up at 5 and driving... Today was pretty uneventful, we drove all day until Caala where we fuelled up and got some booze. We then passed through the town and went in search of a camping ground. Ben had picked up what was meant to be a reserve on his gps, when we arrived there all we found was a pine tree plantation. We found a suitably private nook amongst the trees and camped. The nights are getting much colder now.
Just rubble and shite
May 26th: Today was a very long, hard and gruellingly slow day. We left Caala at sunrise and drove non-stop (except for the frequent toilet breaks taken by the girls from team Canada). There were moments throughout the drive where we were slowed up dramatically by potholes. There were sections of road where we were lucky to reach 20kms per hour, literally, we took an entire hour at one point and hadn't made twenty kms. During the days drive the truck broke down often, once where the fan belt had to be changed, again when it lost the giant hook for its winch, and finally when one of the windows rattled loose and smashed. Towards the end of the day the state of the roads improved somewhat and we were beginning to make headway. Invigorated by this change in events we became overly optimistic. With time running out on our visas we needed to get as far as possible, and with that in mind we didn't think twice about passing through Labango. Our mistake was quickly revealed to us when, not even twenty minutes out of town, we were dropped into pitch darkness. Night descended amazingly quickly and left us all feeling anxious and disorientated. We couldn't turn back now, and likewise were unable to find a place where the locals would allow us to camp. After driving for a further half hour we came to what appeared to be a tiny settlement town. We approached one of the houses and asked the occupants wether we would be allowed to camp on their lawn. You could see they were uncomfortable with our presence and from that discomfort stemmed their adamancy that we would not be able to stay. However, they did point up the road and mumble something incoherent. So, we took their brilliant adviced and headed in the direction they had indicated, and not five minutes up the road came to an abandoned quarry. It was ideal for our circumstances. Cold, tired and anticipating another long day of travel, everybody was quick to set up camp and hit the sack.