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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tsiklonaut, Jun 30, 2009.
maybe they started together and they found each other again
My SO and I are planning a RTW. You're an inspiration.
A small contri sent.
After the fun ride, Lilio invited us to his home where his wife had prepared a feast, including delicious crabs. Eating the crabs is a lot of work, to get all the good stuff out of the hard shell, but rewarding indeed.
Crabs - yummy.
With Lilio and his wife in Luanda - we had a great time!
After hours spent at the dining table it was time to go to a party ( "because weekend is party time"), and with the red sun setting above the city and the countless cranes in the process of constructing new fancy buildings, our timing could not have been better. It was one of those moments that stay with you - the sun setting just to rise again to a new day, and in case of Luanda, I believe it will be a better day. A lot better. With so much money being pumped into developing the city (on the outskirts, thousands of palm trees imported from Miami are being grown to be replanted in the city, and new apartment blocks are bung built outside to relocate the slums), Luanda has great potential of becoming the Rio de Janeiro of Africa.
Cargo ship in distance and a small fishing boat during Luanda's sunset.
Sunset in Luanda.
And the party in Luanda
They do love to party here, with music louder than you could ever imagine. :) We were the only whites in the whole club and we had a very decent clubbing experience in Africa!
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Great to see you still going. Jose called me he said he enjoyed having you two there. Hopefully he can get his place up and running so other bikers can also go and stay there.
Angola s truly special.
Beautiful ........extrem ..........wonderfull
From Luanda we headed north, towards the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (or DRC as it is commonly known). The ride started off well on the brand new tarmac, but soon it was the good old dusty stuff again, and we were barely moving forwards. Although we had hoped to arrive to a reportedly friendly catholic mission in N'Zeto, we had no choice but to spend the night camping in front of a police station in the village of Musserra instead. It would have been some fifty kilometers of hard pushing more, but the sun had already set, so we decided to settle.
After the tent had been pitched, a quick inspection of the bike revealed that another suspension bolt had gone its way. Well, it was still there, but as in our case, usual - it had broken in two. Not exactly smooth these roads, I'm telling you. And we are talking about the new, original BMW bolt that we'd installed just before entering Angola.
As we were cooking some pasta in the pitch black, a military convoy that we'd passed on our way to Musserra, also rolled up in front of the police station. It actually took us around an hour to overtake some ten trucks loaded with tanks and heavy artillery that it consisted of - it is just unimaginable how much dust they are able to kick up as they go, so overtaking them is a true Russian roulette, like driving blindfolded. No wonder our suspension bolt had given up, as in that horrible dust one just cannot see anything, bumping through knee-deep holes that just appear out of the red powder floating around.
As the convoy rolled up in front of the police station and was doing manoeuvres, a rocket launcher stationed on top of one truck got stuck in power lines on the side of the road, pulling down one pole (on the right). But nobody cared as there was no electricity anyway. In the morning we observed head officer of the military convoy give two military-type packs of food to the local police chief with smile (although police chief wasn't so happy) and everything was "OK" for them again to continue without reparing the electric lines for the village - that's African style of corruption.
After the early morning line-up, the convoy slowly dragged off, and we gladly gave them a good head start not to get stuck behind them again. But of course, we had greatly overestimated their speed, so we had to do the Russian-roulette thing all over again. Soon it was N'Zeto though, and from there, nice asphalt was the order of the day. It lasted till some 70 kms from the border.
On the Angolan side, everything went smooth - we got stamped out in no time. But as we arrived to the Congolese side, the immigration guy manning the barrier took our passports, contemplated our visas, shook his head and went off, only to come back in five minutes and tell us to go back to Angola. "You cannot enter DRC, your visa is not valid. You have to go back and get your visa in you home country". Ours had been issued by the DRC embassy in Windhoek. Well, we could not go back as we had already been stamped out of Angola, and ours were single-entry visas only. Basically, we were stuck between two countries - Angola and DRC - not exactly a dream combination, I'd say.
As the immigration guy was absolutely firm about not letting us pass even though we don't even have a DRC embassy in our home country where we should have gotten our visas from, we decided not to waste time arguing, and called the French embassy in Kinshasa - in European Union (to which Estonia belongs) there is a law according to which, if you do not have a representation in a certain country, you can turn to any other member state's representation for help. The French seemed like a logical choice as they speak the same language as the Congolese bastards, so we thought it would go smooth - it appears that we were not the first ones to get stuck on the border due to some recent change in legislation, and the French embassy already had experience with a French and a Portuguese guy a few weeks before. It'd taken them two nights at the border to get through, so we hoped for the same, or faster.
The border officials on the Angolan side were kind enough to let us pitch our tent back on the Angolan territory while we wait, although it still being not much than a border post, it meant that the "toilet" was in the pile of rubbish just behind the dilapidated shack where locals would go to have a polaroid photo taken of them, and the shower
What shower? There was no running water whatsoever, except for the nearby river. Luckily we had some food with us which would last us through a few days, so we were not in despair.
meaning "mines". The area just behind our "toilet" had been taped off. Well, make that two type of mines then when you step on - one type that'll make your legs slip and smelly, the other that will probably kill you or if you're lucky you only lose a leg or two.
We waited for a day, for two
hoping that the approval would arrive any hour. The embassy assured us that we would get through and that we only had to wait for the information to move between the institutions. But nothing came, days just passing. Then it was the Independence Day, and then was the week-end, and then
a message was sent to us that we were prohibited from entering the DRC! It had taken the Congolese one whole week to come to such a conclusion. We were not happy - after a week without a shower, a half-decent toilet, and ultimately, with not much to eat, it was unacceptable.
The French explained that it was due to the Congolese not understanding why it was that the French embassy dealing with a problem of couple Estonians. We contacted our own ministry of foreign affairs in Estonia, and a note verbale was sent to the ministry of foreign affairs in Kinshasa, explaining how things work in the European Union and demanding that we be let through. The minister of foreign affairs of the DRC was involved and tried to fix the problem, and all the foreign representations in Kinshasa informed of the situation, as the days kept passing and the French insisting that the DRC had no other choice now but to let us pass - otherwise "it would make them look like imbeciles in the eyes of the EU". An international scandal, nothing less! But we started to feel, increasingly, that with all the goings-on, we had been forgotten about altogether. We really started to feel hopeless.
Although we avoid bribes at all cost, we were ready to had out some cash to finish this dreadful existance. Somehow we even got through to the top guys of the border post hierarchy, but our proposal did not seem to excite them at all. Which is totally strange, having seen how corrupt they actually are. For example, every local that crosses the border, has to pay. People arrive, with documents in one, and money in the other hand, which goes straight into the black plastic bag hanging off a branch of a tree. Without any ceremony. If you show up without money, the guys in blue shirts ask you without any hesitation for "cinq dollars" (or five dollars, which seems to be the standard "charge"), and you pay. Nobody protests or asks any questions. So it is very strange that a white person is refused, even if he/she comes offering money himself/herself. And not only is it strange, but totally hopeless.
Yikes! We're pulling for you, good luck and hope you get across the border soon!
Hi Margus, I've been following your adventure in awe!!!
I've made a small (the possible for the time being) but heart-felt contribution to your expedition.
I hope you both quickly get out of that situation at the border. Keep us informed and up with the excellent photo work!
You need to make an album after the adventure ends and make a trillion dollars out of selling it!!!
If you happen to stop by around Lisbon, drop me a PM and you have a bed and a shower waiting for you guys!
If only you rode an Africa Twin...
Regards from Portugal
This kind of border nonsense happens all the time between the US and Canada. I just posted a bit about it here. You guys don't know how easy you have it!
You know I'm just kidding. Here's a practical suggestion, though: Create your own country, right there in between DRC and Angola. You could call it the United Federation of Tsiklonia. Population: 2 Tsiklonauts.
Then, set up your own border crossings into each of the other two countries, design a flag (always a fun thing to do anyway), issue your own visas, charge your own fees, and cross into their countries by stamping your own passports. I'm pretty sure that's how Southern Sudan was recently created. If you need trade partners and businesses to invest in Tsiklonian infrastructure, I volunteer the services of "AdventureLoft Computer Service and Repair"
A big hug from me & Francine -- hope you're on your way soon.
Hopefully you've crossed already but I found a post in the hubb from an Estonian who crossed into DRC 4 days ago (from the north I think) with a temporary travel permit as he had no visa, maybe he could be helpful if contacted, post #12:
I think I've said it before but excellent photos and report
A curious young bordercrosser.
Learning how to ride a bike.
Market day across the border. We could buy some foodstuff from those returning.
Taking their produce and wares to the market.
The local staple - funje - basically the same stuff they eat all over subsaharan Africa.
Up close - smells like vomit and tastes bland.
Doppel Munich - good strong Congolese beer smuggled across the border eased our suffering a little.
After ten nights on the border we decided that it must end - otherwise we would end up being mental and physical ruins. We went to the immigration chief of the Angolan side and asked if there was a way we could re-enter the country, regardless of our exit stamps. There was a lot of discussion, and some phone calls were made before he announced us that it was no problem since we still had some time left on our visas.
So we packed our stuff, immediately feeling relieved over at least some kind of development in our situation - we could move again, albeit not in the direction we had so much hoped for. But we were free to go, and our destiny was at last in our own hands, not in the hands of some officials in Kinshasa. We got on the bike and started rolling down the dusty road
only to stop a few kilometers later to check a funny noise from the rear wheel. Crunchhh
. It was the final drive bearing.
The nearest town some 70 kilometers away down the same dusty and bumpy road, we decided to head back to the border, pitch the tent and fix the problem. Unlucky? You bet!
The road to the border.
The border crew looked at us rolling back in deep confusion, but what can you do. We must have looked absolutely miserable, as the wife of the border post chief sent us some hot soup, which in all its simplicity tasted absolutely divine and helped us regain our strength. You'd be surprised what a difference can a good meal make when you're down.
Good thing the engineers did it in the way that you can remove it while bevel box is still attached on the swingarm.
A familiar sight - grinded bearing.
We only got 2 times proper food during our 11 days of suffering on the border. The wife of the borderpost brought us some soup - after days of eating bananas, damn, it tasted soooooo soo good!
Working on the bike at the border post.
Abandoned bus - inside I found a hammer and a cone - critical tools for removing and installing the FD bearing. Thank you goes to who ever left it there at the border!
I gave the old bearing as a toy to the local kids - they liked rolling it and it makes a nice musical shaker too.
With the help of the few tools I could find, I replaced the bearing (luckily we were carrying a spare), fighting the malarial mosquitoes as the work extended well into the night, so we could head off the next day - without much sleep, stinky, feverous and nervous - right into the great unknown.
To end the post on a positive note, and to conclude our experience with the DRC - here's a great cartoon, illustrating so well the crew in charge of the country
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Glad to learn you're on your way!!!!
Amazing! I would have lost my mind in that situation, between the border crossing idiocy and the final drive bearing dying.
Heading away from the border, back the way we had come, mixed feelings were the order of the day. We were free to go, but where to? We had to get around the DRC somehow. One option would have been to ride to Soyo in the north-western tip of Angola, and try to find transport to the Angolan enclave of Cabinda (bordered by both the DRC and Congo-Brazzaville) from there. Other option would have been to ride all the way back to Luanda and try to ship from there. Or… to ride around the DRC in a huge circle, meaning going long way back north via the African east coast.
The last option did not have much appeal, the second one would have been relatively fool proof as Luanda is a big port and we would have found a ship to load the bike onto for sure, but it would definitely have been expensive. As to the first option, we had no clue as to whether there is some service from Soyo to Cabinda, but it was the option requiring the least effort, so we decided to give it a try - if not, our only risk would have been just a few hundred extra kilometers of bad road.
But before we set out to try our luck, we stayed for a few days in the ancient capital of Kingdom of the Congo, called M'banza Congo. Not that there is much left of it nowadays though, neither is there any indication that it is in fact the capital of such an oil-rich province. The streets are choking with the red dust and petrol is only available from a barrel…
...::: Listen local "Radio Zaire" in M'Banza Congo :::...
Searching for fuel in M'banza Congo, that's one of the main streets.
Curiosity is big from the Congo people in Zaire region, although they're very shy, some still stop and stare.
Reflections - the people here are utterly pervy about fancy sunglasses.
Feeding our iron horse, African style.
Streets of M'banza Congo - this is a fuel station, and on the right side - children have to carry the chairs to school and back home every day - there just aren't any chairs and tables at school. It's a strange sight to see all the children walking with chairs in the city.
A local biker guy we met named Wilson - one of the very few in M'Banza who knows some English.
Hi guys, great to see that you're moving again. Sent you some petrol money! Have fun.
Goodness you two really had a hellova ordeal! Where are you now, what's up what route will you take?
hope you will find a better way to pass the DRC. I lived fhere years ago (when it was called Zaire in the time of the president Mobutu) and I know these people. I folloed your report and have been very curious where you will travel after Angola - and now that! It;s very dissapointing. I'm sad about it. How you sad, it's so hopeless. I will follow you on your trip - day by day.
On my foto you can see Matadi, the port of DRC in Bas-Zaire.,,A bientot Nelliedriver
Music while looking at your pics, just puts me there!
We were hosted by Vincent, a priest in the local Catholic mission, who kindly allowed us to pitch our tent in the church yard, fed us fresh papayas and bananas baked on coals, so that in a few days we were ready to hit the road again.
Delicious bananas baked on coals.
Our departure coincided with the Sunday morning Mass at the church, which was filled with song, dance and loads of colours - we were in Africa afterall! It really brightened up the misty morning and got us into the right mood.
...::: LISTEN the sunday's service in M'Banza Congo's Catholic church :::...
The church was full to the brim - some had to sit outside.
Everybody was at the Mass, even a village dog.