Monday, March 25, 2019

Cabinda, Angola to Bushcamp, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 25,2019

What a great night I had.  I could stay in a hotel every night 😀 but not to be.  We were only 25 km from the DRC border so were there in good time but what a shit show!  First, they wanted everyone out of the truck with their passports, then they changed their minds and just wanted me to collect them.  Fine.  A policeman and I took them to 4 different offices looking for workers.  Too early I guess.  They made a phone call and soon a man strolled up.  Into his office we went and then he wanted a copy of our passport and a copy of the Angola visa which luckily we just happened to have!  I returned to his office and his lackey started to write out our information by hand in a large ledger.  Why? I asked, when you have a copy of the passports and our passenger list?  Three of them had a discussion and decided that wasn't necessary, however, they now wanted us to write our name, our Dad's name, our Mother's name and the city and country where we were born on the back of our two pages.  Fine.  Soon, they were busy stamping and were very genial as to where to stamp except for the two passengers who left bookmarks in their passports wanting very specific spots!  Crazy.  
Back in the truck, we drove 100 meters and voilà, we were in the Democratic Repubilic of Congo!  OMG!  If I thought ROC was bad.....  I collected the passports and went into an office with one cop.  They too needed to hand write our information, even though they scanned the passports like they do at home and had our passenger manifest.  We had to holler back and forth when they had questions and when other travellers arrived, we were shoved to the side while they were dealt with.  After about 2.5 hours, they decided they wanted our yellow fever booklets so we got them together.  Come with me, the man said I want to talk to you.  Okay!
We went into a different building where they proceeded to write down our information!  What? I said.  The other office just did that.  Yes, but we are the health department!  Frick, I thought, we are never getting out of here!  I did the writing: name, age, sex, nationality, where we are coming from and where we are going.  I was done in about 7 minutes, just at the same time that the passports were ready and we were out of there, only to drive about 10 minutes to find a police barrier.  We are now used to that.  I was riding shotgun because I speak French, so I had to go into an office to read the tax sheet.  We are a 3 axle truck and so we were required to pay 250,000 francs which is $153 US!  To drive on a clay/sand road!  And so, the discussion began.  I said we were a bus with fewer than 20 passengers so we should have to pay only 50,000.  We went back and forth, numerous people got involved, I went back and sat in the truck = furious, went back to the police group, argued, negotiated and got more frustrated.  I was told that the DRC needs our money to build their roads.  The classification of whether we are a truck or a bus is how 'we' as in white Europeans, have classified the vehicles.  They gave me the impression that all of their problems are the white people's fault.  It reminded me of the BS I've heard somewhere else!  I explained that it wasn't our responsibility to pay for their roads, that if they came to Canada, they wouldn't have to pay for ours - we work hard and do it ourselves.  I told them I felt like we were being stolen from - they didn't like that one and that 250,000 francs was probably more than what three or four of them made in a month!  Eventually we came to an agreement that we would pay only 100,000 francs and after scrounging, we were on
our way -

We came to an area that had received a fair bit of rain and the truck was slip sliding around-

Others had more trouble than us-

We drove until almost dark and are in a quarry for the night.  We weren't here five minutes and people were calling for me - there's a man here with a machine gun!  Okay!  He was military and took us into the village to speak to the chief who was very kind, allowing us to stay for free.  I think the military man suggested to him in their language that he should ask for something because soon he wanted drinks.  I explained that we didn't have any, and that's the truth.  We haven't been able to stock up today because there have been no shops.  When we got back to the quarry, I gave him a used water bottle filled with truck water - it's cloudy and doesn't look that appetizing but that's what we drink so.....  Just because we are white doesn't mean we are rich!  After a few minutes they held up the bottle and asked if it was potable.  I laughed and said yes, that's what we drink!

We didn't meet many vehicles but those we did are loaded-

Students had physed.  That's quite a big class-

Because of the dodgy roads, we only made 85 km-

And have a 7 am start tomorrow as we make our way back to the Angola border.  We are hoping to get to Luanda by the night of the 28th!  Hope we make it!

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