Angola - Day 4 & 5 (Red)
Day 166 (20 March) – Angola day 4
We leave Benguela on a great tar road. We are advised that there is another bad stretch coming up. Niels will stay with Ruben and Renee as they drive slowly still with their broken suspension and Julia and Stanley will get as far as possible with the kids.
We leave Benguela driving towards Lubango under low, heavy skies. The clouds are blue-gray and the landscape has every color green imaginable. The grass, shubs and trees are all different shades of green. This stretch is sparsly populated.
This is the 4th long day of driving. We are doing our best to entertain the kids and have started playing “I’m thinking of an animal” with Eowyn. She sort of gets it but when it is her turn to think of an animal, she really has us guessing.
Eowyn: ‘It has 6 legs.’
Stanley: ‘Are you sure?’
Eowyn: ‘Yes, I’m sure.’
Julia: ‘It lives under water?’
Stanley and Julia: ‘Are you SURE?’
Eowyn: ‘Yes, yes!’
After questions and questions from Julia and Stanley we finally give in. It turns out it is a bird! When we tell her a bird does not have 6 legs or live under water she says “oh yeah, sorry”. On another one of her turns we ask the first question “does it have 2 legs?” to which she replies “I don’t know”.
Julia and Stanley make it to Lobango. We follow the GPS track to the monestary where we can pitch. In town, we need to put the car in low gear/difflock and barely make it on the road. How do people do it? There is even a brewery up on the hill next to the monestary – there is no way a full beer truck can navigate this road! It turns out there is a brand new tar road from the other side of town (which was not yet in the GPS) – we shall take that one out of town!
Day 167 (21 March) – Angola day 5
We will drive about 600km from Lobango and must cross the border to Namibia today. We leave very early as we are told there is another bad stretch of road today. Indeed. The cows and people are using what is left of the tarmac and the vehicles are relegated to the dirt tracks alongside. There are sections where the first dirt track has become so bad that a second dirt track has been forged in the bush (and sometimes a third new track formed in an effort to move forward). People stand around in the middle of the tarmac because they know any vehicle on the tarmac will be moving so slowly they can casually move out of the way. We are rocking and bumping so badly in the car Stanley says ‘well, at least you don’t fall asleep’. We looked in the back seat and both kids are sleeping. We tied their heads with a kikoi and a sweater and put cushions alongside so their heads are not whiplashed.
It is obvious that the Angolan government can command a good road –as we have had many along the way – but this section of the country has poor infrastructure as a punishment for being a rebellious area. We saw the same thing in Congo in the Poole region.
At the first police stop, the police had no problem with us but there is an immigration official who tried to fine us for not speaking Portugese! He showed Stanley the “law book” stating that inability to communicate with the police is a 50USD fine (literally in US dollars). Stanley mentioned there is no problem communicating as we have a truckdriver from Pretoria who is kindly willing to translate everything. “No” he said, you have to be able to DIRECTLY communicate. We are not falling for this one. Secondly, he tries to fine us for not having a document from our last accommodation. Stanley explained we stayed with the priest at the mission in Lobango, but he said we still needed this document from the priest. Julia was activated and she came from the car with both the kids standing in the rain. She started shouting asking whether we should drive back 300km with the kids on that horrible road just to get that stupid paper? The officer got the message and requested Julia to quietly return to the car, it will be sorted. Without paying anyting we are back on the road. This is the first obvious corruption we have encountered in Angola.
On the drive south, we could really see the large amounts of rain that had fallen in this area. People were fishing on the road, usually using a fishing rod, and some were more inventive building a dam with funnel and a bamboo net.
We make the border by early afternoon and even meet up with Ruben, Renee and Niels again. The crossing is easy, we are only sad to have to leave Angola after seeing so little of what has been a beautiful and friendly country.