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Old 09-25-2007, 01:42 AM   #39
metaljockey OP
Dodgy SOB
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Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
Oddometer: 279
The maps we use are Tracks for Africa

The maps are continually being updated and we had the newest version which shows a track skirting the dead end.

Nardus had also been able to confirm that someone had driven that route 2 months ago. We agree that if we can see any tracks left by a vehicle we will follow this route.
The 'not recommended' and 'dangerous road' warnings of course makes it irresistable.

We are delighted to find a borehole and our water problems are solved for another day.

We are heading for the Kunene and there it is. That green strip. The mountains behind is in Namibia.

When we get close to the river we find a police post and a settlement. We have been told many stories of corrupt police. That you have to report to the police in every town. That they ask for copies of all passports and other papers. People even take documents with with lists of the travellers and their passport no's, explaining the purpose of their trip in portuguese etc.

As we stop in front of the police post, Hennie's approach is to make the universal down-the-hatch sign and shout "CERVEJA" at the approaching policeman. Less than a minute later and we are downing beers under a tree with the police.

Before long we are joined by more policemen including the commanding officer or 'Sergeante Primero'. More people join and things get festive. We learn that the settlement is called Monte Negro.

This could well become the favourite pic that I have of my bike.

Nardus takes on one of the policemen in an arm wrestling competition. For the first time since I've known him he loses. I don't think the policeman was even aware that Nardus was hanging on his arm, he was just posing for the camera.

We are later shown the gym that produces such unbridled power.

We have such a good time that we decide to stay over with the good people of Monte Negro. They are delighted and shows us a prime spot under a tree on the beach. We only did 60 km for the day but wtf, you gotta go with what feels good.

As soon as we get to the river we go for a swim.
The Kunene has crocodiles. Plenty crocodiles.
Have a look at the thorns packed on the bank in the foreground. That is to discourage crocs from using this beach as a hang out. As soon as the locals see that we are going to swim regardless of their warnings, they join us. Their instructions appear to be: swim close to the bank and swim as noisily as possible. The water is just fantastic.

For most of the day my bike has been acting up. Now this is an issue for me. I have never done a trip such as this, where the bike's reliability is paramount, with any bike but BMWs. This would be my first on the 640. I have built my confidence in the bike by logging 11 000 problem free kms on it on other trips where recovery was not an issue. In fact, beforehand I was more concerned about Hennie's Dakar which is 'well used' to put it mildly. His response was that he was still going to tow a KTM in Angola.

Now my bike is bogging and stalling all over and blowing big black clouds of smoke. Bastard. So as soon as we are cooled down I start stripping the bike. The smell of the smoke tells me it is not rings but more likely just a too rich mixture. It turns out to be exactly right. The choke cable enters the carb in a metal bend which had pulled out of it's housing and is keeping the choke open.

It's always a good feeling to fix an ailing bike on the fly. Happy happy.
I also put some efffort into resurrecting my faith in my bike and we are partners again.

The good people of Monte Negro even do room service and we get some refreshments. We are also offered a goat, but myself, Hennie and Nardus have some residual issues with goat meat from a previous trip.

We are joined by the community and this unplanned stop in Monte Negro turns into the highlight of the trip.

Because Monte Negro lies at the end of a dead end 4x4 track, visitors must be scarce and the locals are even more interested in us than we are in them. We spend the afternoon having the best time with them.

This will probably be Hennie's favourite pic of his bike.

Michnus turns out to be extraordinarily popular. The women can't keep their eyes of him.
Lovely family portrait. The little one has Michnus's mouth, don't you think?

The men don't do the fat and ochre thing that the women do. Also where everything the women wear is hand made, the men accessorise with western clothes. Still very decorative.

Mike, Sergeante Primero.

Simone; Nardus and I joined him and friends that night in his hut for a party. They very kindly played us the only tape they had with Western music. The radio runs off batteries that are charged by a solar panel. We actually found the Herero songs quite a bit better than 'our' tape.

You just cannot take a bad picture of this girl.

Have a close look at the hand made decoration/jewellery. Carved lead and a variety of other utility parts. The shell is a prized possession. It has to be fetched from the ocean which means crossing the Namib desert. Later on we will cross it and you will see that it is a big deal.

Any idea how heavy that neck ornament is?

Later the afternoon the goats come down to drink and is chased away with rocks. On enquiry it appears that they cannot drink here because of the crocodile threat! But swimming is OK?

The beers do their job and I take a local for a spin up the riverbed and almost have my nipples torn off.
Surprisingly, when we return there are no more takers.

My good friend Casul on the right. Must be a monkey in the tree.

Yep, it is.

Here's something that intrigues me. Speaking for myself, I would have thought that after decades of war one would sort of have had enough. Yet, everywhere we saw camouflage and military apparel being used as fashion items. I think about that often still.

The locals assure us there is fish. Hennie conclusively proves them wrong.

And to end a perfect day, a perfect sunset on the river.

Oh yes, check out our fridge.

Monte Negro blew our minds. Fantastically friendly people, we made many friends. What makes it so exceptional is that we had no way to communicate as we did not understand a word of Portuguese (except 'cerveja') or Herero. They did not understand a word of English or Afrikaans. Yet we spent hours and hours being thoroughly entertained. This trend was to repeat itself every where we stopped.

Monte Negro will always be special to me though.

continued here

metaljockey screwed with this post 10-17-2007 at 11:32 PM
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