Friday, 23 February 07

 

 

Around noon we reach the border to the Angolan Exklave of Cabinda. The main road, that connects the Congo to Cabinda is a shrub path. Lonely and narrow it leads through the rain forest.

 

The noises of the jungle are sometimes so loud that they even over-sound the humming of the engine. The Cakophonie of millions of birds sounds from the trees and accompanies theconstant screaming of the apes.

 

Somewhere out in nowhere we spend the evening in a private hotel. Outside heavily armed men guard the doors and inside some Israelis and Brazilians celebrate their weekend off. They are active in the raw material export business.

One may not forget that the Exklave of Cabinda is one of the richest spots of resources on earth in relation to its size. Particularly in oil and diamonds.

This combination naturally does not promote the general security of the region. Here is the only place in Angola where there still is a war going on.

 

 

Saturday, 24 February 07

 

Cabinda presents us with heavy rains. Our first way leads us to the port, in order to find out whether and when we get a ship to Luanda, the main port of proper Angola on the other side of the Congo river.

But of course, nobody is there and the port area is closed on a Saturday. We drive back to the catholic mission again and spend the weekend there.

Due to the strong rainfalls I pitch my tent on a destroyed veranda. Together with millions of mosquitos.

 

 

 

Sunday, 25 February 2007

 

Today I go running in the morning and look around town. The roads are partly flooded and only the cathedral hill can be used for running to some extent.

 

As I want to ride my motorbike to the internetcafe early in the afternoon, I experience an unpleasant encounter. I turn into a small road and suddenly a man in uniform blocks the road and points his rifle at me.

Since I am already used to such a kind of greeting from Nigeria, I stop immediately and ask very politely what happened.

Whereupon the policeman answers I drove against a one-way and besides that into a road closed for civil traffic. On this road only government vehicles may drive and also only in one direction. My offence weighs doubly heavy so. As to be expected he takes away my passport immediately and tells me to get off the motorcycle. Shit, I should have watched out!

After half an hour of discussion, innumerable apologies and the friendly support of some bystanders I may keep the motorcycle and passport, as well as I highly officially pay 7 Euros of fine that just as officially go directly into the breast pocket of the cop. In addition, for inexplicable reasons my ride-on is only tolerated with closed motorcycle jacket, which the policeman himself closes for me!

For dinner I take the taxi then.

 

 

Monday, 26 February 2007

 

Today we drive to the port again. However without Sarah and Steve. Despite all warnings they have decided themselves to try it over the piste roads along the Congo River. For us on motorcycles a possibly flooded area imposes a too large risk.

As we come into the office of the shipping company, we soon get disappointed. They tell us that the next ship probably goes after Thursday. This African expression for, we donít knowwhen, can also mean after next week.

Very unhappy about having to spend some more days on the damp camp site without shower we drive over to the supermarket to go shopping.

By pure coincidence we meet the manager there, who seems to know a way out of our situation. He suggests us to drive to the military airport and ask whether a freight plane can take us to Luanda. He knows somebodyÖ

Said and done, with the correct name of the flight we steer our fully loaded machines to the airfield that looks like a fortress. As we come to the entrance we require to speak the responsible officer for the air transport to Luanda.

The guard, who has probably never seen three white men with such a request so far, hardly trusts his eyes.

As he immediately wants to bann us from the area, we answer completely naturally that we can not go away in any case, since this evening the flight goes and we are on it. Whereupon we say the correct name of the military flight and the contact person and act as if we always fly with Angolan military machines when we are in the area.

In the following discussion with the responsible officer we agree on the price and the transport conditions. 200 US dollar cash per person and motorcycle, no papers and no questions. We drive the motorcycle on the plane ourselves and when we arrive in Luanda we clear the airbase as fast as possible. Straight forward and simple.

We take, traditionally for Angola, an old propeller-driven Russian aircraft.

The crew, which consists of some Russian guys, opens the loading hatch in the trunk of the plane and one of the men puts up a board as a ramp. The height difference is about two meters and as I take the ramp with gas my front wheel raises precariously far into the air. Fortunately it finds traction in the airplane again and I have just completed my first motorcycle ride on board an aircraft.

The rest of the journey goes simple. The machines are lashed to the wall and we take place beside it on folding banks which are normally meant for parachutists.

 

 

 

 

 

As we reach Luanda in the night there still waits a hard piece of work. We must drive through half of the city, which is partly flooded by the heavy rainfalls, in order to find the monastery of the Franziscans. That is the only place where we actually can afford to stay. Luanda either lives from the oil or diamond industry where most businessmen are active and hotel rooms are starting at about 200US dollars.

Totally exhausted we spend the night in the tent, directly besides the cathedral San Domingo.

 

 

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

 

I spend the day in the monastery with some work in the library. We get permission to use the Internet and may feel just like at home.

With brother Adriano we go for a small city tour in the afternoon. Luanda experiences the heaviest floodings for years and many of the main roads are impassable. The sewers overflow and hygenic conditions are beyond imagination.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 28 February 07

 

 

Today we continue our trip. A brand-new road leads from Luanda towards the south. The Chinese are bussy to rebuild the Angolan road system again. In exchange for oil. Like nearly everywhere in Africa, China tries to secure the resources of raw materials for itself to support its future strength as probably dominating industrial nation.

 

 

One very often finds red and white boundary stones at the roadside. After some closer examination they do not show the distance to the next city, but they indicate a mine field! You must not leave the road here in any case. After nearly 30! years of civil war huge parts of the country are still mined and again and again new mine fields are discovered.

 

 

With dusk coming in we pitch our tents at the beach. We drive to a small farm and ask whether we may camp. The people are happy about the distraction and insure us that the beach is free from land mines.

 

 

 

The sunset is fantastic and we spend the evening at the campfire.

 

 

Thursday, 1 February 2007

 

The landscape of Angola is breath taking. The constant winds of the Atlantic formed the coasts to bizare rock formations.

 

At some parts of the coastal road you need to watch out, even a truck can lose grip due to strong longitudinal grooves in the tarmac.

 

 

 

In the afternoon we arrive in Lobito, a small city at the sea. Here the tarmac ends. What comes now is 800kms of hard African piste roads all the way to the border of Namibia.

 

 

As we stop at the supermarket to buy some food a man comes up to us. He saw us and our motorcycles would gladly get to know us better. He offers us to do our shopping free of charge because today we are his guests.

That has never happened to me before, I go to a store and someone lets me shop on his bill!

Also, about tonightís accomodation we do not have to think, we can stay in his house, a private yacht club at the beach. He shows us the way.

We follow a brand-new jeep Grand Cherokee and come to a remote bay. There the heavily guarded mansion is located. On the compound are armed guards with search headlights pointing to the sea, on the roof is a satellite dish and on the terrace a video canvas. The private vehicle park consists of jet skis and power boats. 

I rub my eyes to make sure that I did not accidentally land in Miami Vice.

But everything is for real! After some cellphone calls of our host, hasty a car comes around the corner and no, not the Cleaner with hydrochloric acid steps out, itís a friend who brings Champagne for us! Of course on ice. We sit on the terrace, look at the sea and enjoy the evening. Gentle American gangster rap bubbles from the loudspeakers, stictly according to rank. Our friend tells us that he is active in the import/export business and needs to go to Dubai next week. He states, in Angola life can be beautiful, if one is in the right business. And, if we want, we can stay as long as we like. His bodyguard takes care of us.

 

 

 

Friday, 2. March 2007

 

This morning I hit the road alone. My friends Taco and Martin would like to stay a bit longer. I must get myself on the way to Namibia, because I would like to be at the border on sunday.

The next three days will present me with a selection of the heaviest piste roads of the country. The route leads from the sea into the mountains and for the next 800kms goes on with everything African roads have to offer.

It is like a test, Africa brings up everything again, until it will let me out on the good tarmac roads of Namibia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day begins with destroyed bitumen and potholes filled with rain water.

 

Later the piste leads through mine fields. Rests are only possible on the road.

Then there are sections, which remind of a Motocross Circuit.

 

 

Saturday, 3. March 2007

 

Today life on the road continues in the same way. Road signs are still shot into pieces.

 

 

The piste leads over slippery soil and through fog banks.

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon a thunder storm comes up and I drive through the worst water holes since the Congo. To my left and right lightnings explode on the horizon and the roaring of thunder hammers like artillery fire.  

 

 

 

Beaten in the bushes and blown out from the trail I reach a small village as a fire red sun goes down, giving an almost mystic aura to the place. 

 

 

 

Sunday, 4. March 2007

 

 

Still 200kms to go to the border to Namibia. I get on my bike and Iím prepared for everything. The last stand is near and that almost literally. Due to the land mines the farmers often keep their cattle on the road. As I want to drive through a herd of bulls, one of the animals regards me as an adversary and tries to ram me with its horns! Fortunately I cansave myself with accelerating quickly. That was the first moment on my journey so far, where I would have wished to have a stronger motorcycle.

 

 

In the next moment however I am glad again that my bike is not really the strogest when it comes to acceleration. Behind a right curve the piste suddenly ends in a river! With a new R 1200 GS I would have probably landed directly on the other side, with my R 80 GS I take the bridge, 100 meters down the road. 

 

 

For the cooldown part of today's joyride I pass by some destroyed tanks and finally roll up at the border post in the afternoon.

 

As I tell the officials that I came here all the way from Austria I must take a picture with them. As always the thing is done with a smile and tired but happy I enter Namibia.Where the left- hand traffic is my last surprise for today. Haleluja!