République Démocratique du Congo - Luozi
Day 157 (11 March) – The next 40 km…
The next morning we continue on. More or less the same story as the day before in DRC, a track through beautiful grass lands, a lot of mud and working hard to get all four cars through. We managed to do a whole 40 km in the 9 hours driving!
Day 158 (12 March) – Crossing the Congo River at Luozi
The first two days after Mindouli we passed no other motorized vehicle. The third day we passed no moving motorized vehicle (2 carcases and 3 breakdowns). Just before we pulled off the road to camp in the third night we passed a moving truck (Primus Beer truck – very important!!). It took us 3 nights/4 days driving to get to Luozi – the town with an immigration post where we cross the mighty Congo river by ferry. We have been working hard getting through the mud, dirt, rocks, crevaces and rivers and rebuilding sections of the road as we go. Working to pull each other out and through and it has been fantastic. One day we managed only 40kms in 9 hours. We have been through beautiful grassland and watched unbelievable lightening storms in the distance at night from our bush camps.
Immigarion and customs in Luozi is a mild hassel. Obviously they don’t see many tourists and there is the question of the ‘signing fee’ – which we manage to avoid.
And after a short delay we are on our way to the port with the famed car ferries over the Congo River. We got the advise from truck drivers to go to the church and ask the priest to negotiate the price for crossing because they would be tempted to increase the price when seeing cars with whites. As stubborn as we are, we decide to go to the port ourselves.
We are ready for the usual long negotiations and even longer wait, but we are pleasently surprised when they say it costs a (very fair) 20,000 currency units per vehicle (equals slightly more than USD 20) and they can take us directly. What service! It is a wide crossing over the mighty Congo River and it is exciting to be crossing such a significant river in our journey.
The ferry driver turns out the be the guy we had pegged for just having escaped from the asylum. As we drove into the port (which in Luozi is not more then a dirt parking lot) there was a skinny old man wearing a bright yellow lab coat, pink wrap around oversized sunglasses, cowboy hat and choker neclace of red, green and yellow beads missing (at least) the top front 4 teeth. He turns out to be the captain, of course, and not just stylish but skilled as we have an uneventful boarding, crossing and offloading. Of the 20,000 we paid per vehicle, we even got 2,000 back (because of a changed rate with the USD), a unique experience to get money back!!!
On the other side of the river we manage to buy some ‘chilled’ beers (and bottles) and find a camping stop a little up the road from the port town. And just before driving off the road to the camp spot, the Ssang Yong’s clutch gave up. Apparently, the metal cloths hanger that was holding the clutch cable in place was broken. How did it manage to hold this far?! African solutions do work in Africa, for some time at least… But with the expertise of the engineering crafts of Sebastian and the ‘What ever you need, we’ve got it!’ spare parts of Stanley, they were able to fix the clutch in a proper way.
We had all spare parts that anyone asked for, so far, with us. But this evening Sebastian tried his luck and asked for a battery of the type CR2032 for his watch. What are the chances of having exactly this one? Stanley went to his car and against all odds he gave the CR2032 battery! Sebastian was stunned and happy! (so was Stanley)