Monday, 28 March 2016

Angola1

Reaching Angolan territory we were tired, fed up, hot, dirty and probably smelly! Having had our last shower on Monday morning (we had been having bucket showers in between but they aren't the same) we needed to stop somewhere with some kind of shower and food! Driving towards M'Banza Kongo Rob's car lost all revs and steering because the pully which controls the alternater, steering and water pump had come loose. It was a quick fix on the side of the road but at this point it was decided that we needed to refresh ourselves and get things sorted with the cars. We reached the town and went about changing dollars.. We had been told the bank rate was under 200 Kwanzaa to the dollar but black market was around 350. It was a hard process and we ended up having to ask around a bit. Finally we did an exchange with a pharmacist who gave us 35000 for $100 (about 455 to the £). 

Next job was to find somewhere to stay, there was no where to camp so we all decided a hotel would be nice and the best idea! Arriving at Hotel Kongo we found out the price, saw the rooms and were beyond happy. For a decent price the room was large and clean, with a big bed, comfy pillows, hot water and a balcony! After having lived fairly wildly for the last few days it was welcomed! We first however needed to sort out our car... We found a gate welding shop and asked them whether they would weld the cracks in the body mount.. The agreed to do it all plus make some metal body spacers for the sum of 8000 Kwanzaa (£17). It took them about an hour in the boiling sun but once it was done the car was far less squeaky and Charles swore a whole lot less! 
 
Finding a supermarket we got some supplies for dinner (including a Flake chocolate bar), and headed back to the hotel. The colour of the water coming off during shower number 1 was disgusting, it had turned the bottom of the tub orange. The clothes washing session did not help, all our clothes had been covered in orange mud and dirt and it took a few washes to rinse them clean! By shower number two the water was running clear and it was time to relax! Sleep came quickly! Next morning we took our time, getting up, filling up the water and having breakfast (included in the price). We were slightly hindered by the fact we had to wait almost 2 hours for fuel but set off towards Luwanda at 12pm.. A lot of km before sundown!

We were meeting Andrew and Christina, a couple living in Angola who had done this trip plus many more before. Andrew had been a great help when we applied for our Angola visa so we were very much up for meeting him and his family. It took us about 7 hours to get to the camping spot, a hideaway on the coast of Angola, also next to a river estuary, the most perfect spot. The sand was so fine it glistened like glitter and the wind cooled down the warm temperatures. We arrived and met the camping party.. Including Kars and Simone who we had left at Hotel Hippocampe in Brazzaville.. When  I had last heard from them (pre election Internet black out), they were in Luwanda getting their car fixed after the awful roads in DRC - we knew that feeling! They had been camping in the Yacht club and the owners there had called Andrew (he is known for liking to meet Overlanders). He suggested coming camping with him, his friends and some Overlanders.. Two English couples.. Apparently the penny had dropped for them but due to our lack of internet signal we were none the wiser. It was fantastic to see them again, alongside Andrew's friends who were amazingly welcoming and kind! Sharing their food, drink and conversations with us. We had really landed on our feet! The Friday night was spent drinking and dancing, for once we did not have an early night and the partying went on until the early hours!

Saturday morning arrived and we woke up with bleary eyes. These were soon cleared by a swim in the waves and some scrambled eggs. The day was a scorcher so it was sun cream and lots of swimming in store. Lunch was pulled pork and salads.. Pork being something we haven't really had since leaving the UK! The beer and wine were flowing, the conversations interesting and the cars and kit around amazing (I will put photos below). Late afternoon we borrowed a kayak from Kelse and headed into the mangrove forest. It was eery being in there. So quiet and peaceful.. We saw some kingfishers and some fish that could go onto land! Very strange!  Dark undergrowth turned into open grassland as we headed deeper. The fire was lit and some food cooked as it turned dark and we toasted to another day in paradise. 

All things must come to and end and before we knew it it was time to pack up to leave. We wanted to head to Luwanda to get Rob's car fixed so decided heading back with the group the nest idea. Packing up amd leaving was leisurely, including swimming, eating and some beer but soon we were off and heading towards the capitaL.. Stopping a few times for refreshments! Arriving in the city it was a real contrast. Even on the way into Luwanda the roads, which had been tar, had turned to potholes and we drove past shanty town like accomodation. Rubbish everywhere and people trying to make a living. All of a sudden it was beautiful Tarmac, high rise and glass buildings, money everywhere! A real contrast! We arrived at the yacht club for a drink or two and unsurprisingly had an early night! 

Angola so far has been worth every penny and hassle the visa cost us. Amazing people, local and also other nationalities who are generous with their time and knowledge. Beautiful scenery, rolling beaches, mangroves, savanna like grasslands! I only look forward to more! 

(The river estuary and mangrove forest)
(Beach the other side. Andrew's rather nice landcruiser)

(Kris and Partick's car, our car, rob and Mandy's car and Kars and Simone's car)

(Fuel stop number one on the way home!)
(Car envy.. Kelse's amazing set up!)
(Shameless selfie)

More photos will eventually be on Charles Facebook (for those of you who know us.. I tend to share his photos), or Rob and Mandy's go directly on the Where to Next Africa page.