Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Monday, August 1, 2011

Adventures in D.R.Congo, Part.1

This long story has been written in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the town of Aru, near the Ugandan border. I am trying to write down the adventures and occurances before forgetting something important. Internet here is worse than in any other visited countries. Even in Ethiopia – there was something - but here is possible to use Uganda mobile communications as my present location now is near the border of Uganda. Some internet cafes in the town of Aru also use Uganda mobile network to offer internet service. I think now, that is 6 days after having arrived at Congo , that alone I probably could not have got here. Too much bureaucracy and DRC is French speaking country and as to me – I don`t speak French.

The idea to go to Congo has been in my mind for a long time already, but to make up a more precise route needed solid information and that was relatively difficult to find. And the internet in South-Sudan is not among the fastest ones. And Congo is not this kind of a country that just you go there and look around – to find, what`s interesting here. And it is said that traditsional tourism as that does not exist in Congo.

One reason for visiting Congo was Boyoma Falls. Almost in the centre of Congo the town of Kisangani is situated near which is Boyoma Falls ( named Stenley Falls before) and it is one of the water-rich falls in the world. Altogether the three water-rich wateralls in the world are on the River Congo. The bigger ones – Inga Falls and Livingstone Falls are on the west coast, near the mouth of the river.

To explain a bit – a map of Africa. The journey is figured by hand. The more precise route is in the blog on a separate page LOCATION.


And could not get rid of the thought - Being here in the East Africa , and so close to Congo ( 300km to the border and 1000 more km to Kisangari ) perhaps still look over this waterfall, because who knows when I will be driving here again.

I was in Juba Nile Resort Camping and for several days had been looking for more additional info from net. From blogs, forums, UN sites. The condition of roads, security. The information in the net about the roads varied - some parts of the road were supposed to be drivable, some other could be drivable only by bike. And while looking at the pictures in Google – the most efficient and secure seemed to be the ship on the Congo River. And of course the plane as well.

But not only net was the source of information. From the locals I also learned. But still, this information was somehow inadequate, and so without a thorough knowledge of the roads and other conditions it is not very wise to start to wander around here.

But to drive back to Uganda by the same road was not that I wanted. Still so close to the Congolese border.
All this information, learned from here and there, is generally different. It is said that this road is not passable (no roads, undrivable roads, riots etc). But actually there are roads and there is local transport. Because people live there after all.

Example : in North Sudan, Khartoum, I searched for information how to go to Juba. And it was said in many places that these roads are on the road map, but they are not used. And again the information, received from locals has this drawback - if they don`t know the answer to a question, then most of them instead of saying – I don`t know - begins to guess something. For some reason it is thought that saying – I don`t know - shows the stupidity of the answerer.

And then Portugees Joao came to the camping. His original plan had been to come to Juba to see the celebration of the Independence Day. But he didn`t succeed as South Sudan closed its border a few days before the Independance Day. As to myself I reached Juba town just in the last minute. Afterwards thinking back it was good that I could cross the border in the evening.

The first thought had been to drive to the border and begin to mess around with border – crossing in the morning. But if you are behind the barrier and it`s not too late, why not cross the border on the same day.
In general – it is more convenient to drive alone and decide what to do, where to go and be responsible for the decisions. But this time there were determining some factors : Joao speaks fluently French, Italian, Arabic and Spanish, and of course English, is very sociable ( he managed us to visit the Parlament and even tried to have a talk to the President.).
He has been to Mauritania by his car for many times, and crossed the border of Mauritania-Marocco in Bir Moghrein. And his cars had been – Renault Clio and also Opel Corsa. Another example that it is possible to drive almost everywhere by any car and one must really want to do it.

In conclusion - After a longer conversation I decided to go to Congo with him. And in case a situation, analogous to the one Djibouti , where a group of locals surround the car and some of them are trying to climb on the foof of the car happens - then in this situation it is better to have two of us to solve the problem. And then the determining factor was just the language problem, after all Djibouti is a Frenchspeaking country.
That`s why I`m writing here in this post not „I“ but We“. And most of the pictures are taken from Joao camera.

According to the map the distance to the border from the capital of South – Sudan Juba was 260 km, and the road was full of police control posts.

Immediately while leaving the city, there was the first check. The car was searched and a lot of questions were sked – how come we were still here. When all the guests and journalists were supposed to be present only on Independance Day and leave after the event. Long explanations.

New questions. Do I have a phone? Dubious. Can international calls be made with it? Very suspicious. I showed my old Nokia. The fact that a foreigner can call anywhere is highly suspectful for them. Seems everyone is a spy or more. Cameras or computors were not subject of interest this time because  before that they wanted money for the search. The answer was: coming to the country we were told that the state pays to the officials and touriste are not allowed to give directly money to the government officials. That helped. We could drive on.

At the next check-up place they searched the car extremely thoroughly and asked many questions about everything – wire, stone, etc. What is this and what is that for. Next question – Do I have a camera? Yes, of course. What have I photographed? I replied that everything that was on Independence Day. And so on. And that I was also in the Parlament Building. Again – a big problem for officials. Next – the images in the camera were reviewed, one by one.I showed them an older camera which had about dozen pictures of Juba and people celebrating there.

For a moment a kind of talk began that taking pictures is unlawful , but I explained to them that even in the Parlament Building it is allowed to take pictures. Then Joaos pictures were reviewed and in the same time I had to show all things in the car. Up to the point that my wallet , that was inside the computer bag, was thoroughly looked over. The only item inside – a 20 dollar bill – was looked over from every side but was not taken away. Extremely thotoughless activity. Then there was a call from a kind of a boss and we had to drive back to the local KGB office or counter, which was a building 3x3., made of boards. Inside – a table and some chairs. And again this talk began – that no photographing here etc. Then a laptop was taken and they wished to have copies of all the pictures.

Finally we got permission to move on but with the prescipt to register by the police at every town. Town here means - that there is a few dozen round thatched clay huts and a pair of rectangular tin-roofed buildings. Men are sitting around the houses, women are working and kids are carrying water with yellow cans.

All this took about some hours and it meant that this day we will definitely not reach the border .Later it turned out the further road from the town of Yei until the border check-up of Laso had been this kind that we could not have made it anyway. Mileage can`t be considered here at all. It takes sometimes the whole day to cover 100 km.

While it was getting dark we reached the town of Yei. They When we asked about the police - they wanted 10 sudannese dinars (3USD) dollars for the answer. What can one say to that!!

Later we got a free response that it is in the centre of town, located by the main crossing. We found the right place, in the dark, and turned into the yard. The courtyard was a big area and many houses around and to great surprise – some lamp-posts lit the area. The car stopped, the doors locked and to register. By the first house it came out that it was a local prison and one can`t register oneself in there. We were instructed to go on  a couple of houses. In the right place the names were put down into a big book and the next car – search began.

And some of the searches were rather drunk. The search was still not very thorough , because we were said that now the very important „security check„ is over and we have to pay for that. After disputing for 10 minutes there was no paying. We asked about the further goad condition and then were sent to the traffic police, in the same territory.

The traffic police was sitting on the chairs by the road crossing. When a bigger vehicle passed they whistled it to stop and went to check. But while in town buying food we wittnessed this kind of a situartion – a man in uniform with a gun passed a counter by the road. Took something edible from the counter . Without paying. And a white man was looked at like an alien from another planet.

Asking the further road condition we learned the following – The Yei- Laso road taking straight to the border of Congo DV was supposed to be „ the most shittest road“. Turning left - the way back to Uganda and turning right - a bit more decent road but for us it was completely wrong direction.

In the morning we started as soos as it began to dawn. Not to have long talks with police any more. The next 40 kilometres to the border were the heaviest than encountered before. At first one police post, we reported there of just spending the whole night at the Yei police station and now we were heading towards Congo. And quickly on to the road.

The road got worse and worse. The holes of twenty–thirty centimetres deep and full of water and mud. Everywhere.

You drive, then make a stop, measured the depth and either tried to somehow drive around the holes or drive fast through pools.
10 kilometres before the border was supposed to be a kind of settelment. And the next registration at the police . It took about 30 minutes and we didn´`t pay the money that was wished. Instead a police stamp was put in the passport. Later it turned out this kind of a stamp in the passport was not needed , but still it was good to present it to the next inspectors.
The border of South Sudan and Immigration – a thatched clay building, earth floor, door - made of boards. Soon a young man , who was supposed to work there, appeared, wrote down the names in a book and added the Exit stamp in the passport and on the Travel Permit.

Juba, Yei Sudão - Aba Congo Julho 2011 359

Then 100 Sudanese money (about 30 USD) per person was asked. After 15 minute of explanation we gave 10 ( 3 USD) and left. This young officer had been at work only for two days . and perhaps thought anything could be asked. And on his second day at work he can get a lot of money.

Juba, Yei Sudão - Aba Congo Julho 2011 361

This kind of a trail went down the hill and in the meantime some fresh car tracks were seen. And then a board by the road „Republique Democratique du Congo".

Here we are. In the heart of Africa. Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the country that is introduced by travel office GoGongo - „if you really need *****lodges, whisky on the rocks and your 20-channel television, please go somwhere else“

In the country, where each border crossing point establishes its own requirements, where the price of visa (information from Lonely Planet“) while entering through Goma border station, is 280 USD instead of the usual 75 USD and where, in many cases, the visa, issued by the Embassy is not accepted. So a new visa should be bought at the border.

The border-crossing between South-Sudan and DR Congo. Very likely during the last 10 years or even longer time no tourist had crossed the border. At least while asking the same answer everywhere – never seen here white tourists before , because in Sudan the war ended 6 years ago and in Congo this north-east region has always been restless. In this area LRA and Joseph Kony, expelled from Uganda, acted. Our plan was such as just try to get in from this place because a white tourist is a rarity here and maybe we manage to get a visa at the border for normal price.

Next a rusty and locked gate on the road. We stopped the car and went to investigate the matter. And it was the Border Guard of Congo and other persons. The first reception was friendly. After a brief introduction we were told to drive in. A good beginning.

I went back to the car to drive closer, but the man, who was supposed to open the gate, stood there and asked 3 USD for gate - opening . WHAT??? WHAT???? WHY???? I said in response.
„Ten dollars“ was the answer. Probably he undrestood that there is no point to expect good money from these men and then why not ask more! More space for trading!
I explained that first of all the gate should be open and all kind of money things we will clear up later. Joao in his turn announced that he has been to 70 countries and he meets first this kind of thing . Actually , if recalling , it could happen in every other African country as well.

Ahead was standing a bigger fuel vehicle, so a kind of activity in this border station took place. The Border Guard ( Border Guard or the Army, men were in uniform and with machine guns) searched the car. 10 minutes later we were told to drive to the next house, there are both - Customs and Immigration. Beside the man by gate said something about 10 USD. He got no attention.

The next management of documents and check-in to the state was in French and took about 2 hours.
First of all the price of the visa. - we asked the price but got no solid answer. They said they will find it out and ask it from Aba town, 18km from this place.
A kind of Customs and Immigration Centre was supposed to be there. It seemed, that we will be not sent back at once. And as long as they will find out the price of the visa we should smarten up other necessary things.
From the wall we found the price list – according to that - a month-long tourist visa was 83 USD . But the officials said that everything should be asked over from Aba . And they didn`t have any visa stickers there either.
Next sanitary check-up. - he was a friendly man and gave up the car disinfection. (it is said that the price is 60 USD, and usually can`t be avoided at other borders. ) For the first time during the trip they wanted to see the confirmation of vaccination against yellow fever . Then we were given some important papers , the price of them after trading was 2 USD per man.

Customs. For the check-in of the car at first was asked 60 USD, later 40 was enough. The official was even so accurate that I got from 50 dollar bill 10 dollars back. Carnet was seen for the first time. It was an unknown document for them.
Througout this kind of activities and payment a thought crossed my mind that in case we are not allowed to enter the country how can we get back all these paid sums. At last the person came back from Aba town and anounced that we had to drive to meet there the immigration officer who was supposed to be very practical and „very nice“. Good. Another great news.

Before leaving the border-guards or whatever they discovered, that they should receive money for the car search, or just, because they are there. Or cigarettes at least. There was a brief conversation on the issue that smoking is harmful, I even demonstrated what was smoker`s coughing like.. and that was enough. Anyway – not money was spent that day. The gatekeeper included.

Just like Estonians were waiting for their White Ship , which was supposed to bring freedom, the same way Congolese were waiting for a white bus that would bring money and wealth to the border workers. The harsh reality was, that a 24-years–old Mazda bus brought two white men , and no money at all.

We drove towards the city of Aba, accompanied by a employee of border , the one, who had investigated the circumstances in Aba and on the way he mentioned that he was not sure but probably the price of the visa is 40 USD. And the list on the wall could be not valid too. Basically , during the way we made a verbal agreement - in case the price of the visa is 40 USD per face and we will get them – then we both pay him 10 USD for fast and efficient action. The man was much more cheerful to that. And Kongo it was. Having reached the city of Aba, 18 km away , we were met again by a closed gate , mandatory money-asker and local drivers . Over the years , probably it was the first time they saw tourists arriving from the Sudan side.
Anyway, here we met an official, who was very efficient, without redundant questions he wrote down the details of the car, examined 40 $ car document received at the border ,we shook hands and „Welcome to Congo“ and no money-asking at all.

In the next room the names were written down somewhere, 20 $ was asked and a quarter of an hour later we could go away without any payment. Outside, however, there was still a citizen, who said that he was collecting road taxes, but we told him that at first we have to deal with our visas and let`s have a talk later.
The car was left behind the city gate and we walked through the town to the office of the head of the Imigration where we were expected already.

The house had no glass windows but kind of shutters. Inside a table and some chairs. We were met friendly and decently. And the head of this department was really very efficient and his attitude was friendly and professional.

While talking in French it came out that this Laso/Aba border point has not been used for years and so he can`t give us any stickers.
But he can give us a temporary travel Authorization, which will be sufficient for going around in Congo. It will cost 50 $ and is valid here, in Province Orientales or another – 100 $ and this is valid in a number of regions. And the permit will be valid 30, or 60 or 90 days.

We discussed the offer, had the differences to be explained and choose the 100 $ permit. In written form it announced that it gives us permission to move around in the country for 90 days. Something like a three-month visa. In addition we got entry stamp in the passport. Then we were told that we must register ourselves in every bigger town. (inhabitated place).
All this procedure had taken almost 2 hours and as it was getting darker we asked if we could park beside the building. The answer was affirmative.
When we went to get the car it turned out that the gate was still locked and this road-taxes – collecting citizen was still waiting for his 50 $. Reaching his office it turned out that this kind tax-collecting company really exists. And its name is „Transcom“. And this tax is actually collected. And even a kind of paper was shown. We could read – road taxes, and the first thing was that tourists had to pay 50 $.
Then another dispute began –„ every white man is not a rich white man, this Mazda bus is 24 years old, we can`t pay this 50 $ because we don`t have much money any more. The visas cost more than we had expected „ This time it was more difficult and it ended by paying Uganda and Sudanesen money for 25$. I showed, that no more money in my pockets. We received a a yellow receit , it was supposed to be asked at every border-point. Quite clear that we will not return this way.

Next this person appeared who wished to get the promised 20 $ for smooth visa organizing. Here it was no problem. As we had paid more than 40 $ per person, no money. That`s it . Nothing to do.
At last somebody was ordered to open the gate. This somebody slowly went to the gate, stood in front of it and wished the next 20 $ . We really had had enough of all kind of money asking and paying. Twenty minutes later the gate was opened. Some men tried again to start to inspect the car but it had been searched and looked through enough and so we drove beside the Immigration office.

A bit later a boss appeared from the next house and advised to park the car in front of his house, it was supposed to be a bit safer.

The house was probably built about 40-50 years ago had been bautiful and stylish. Such a genuine colonizer`s house.

We thanked for that and decided to go to town to find some food, but from somewhere appeared a next citizen with a briefcase. He said that he was from the police and he had to identify us. The cost was 10 USD per person. As our visa or Travel permit had been studied enough while being issued we shortly replied that no paying any more. And no more talk about identification.

An open-air cafe - Aba – the DRC. A large bowl of rice and beans cost 3500 local Congo money or 3,5 USD. And a lot of people to look over the first tourists.

We tried to find out about the safety of the region. The answer was that before the LRA rebels had made attacks but „now it is safe“. If safe now – that is good , but we still wanted to know when the last attack had taken place. The answer was that either 2 weeks or 15 days ago. But it is safe now. And still we were recommended to drive to the next town by the name of Faradji.

Some local offered a chance to go and visit the nearby Garamba National Park and was ready to be our guide. But as that was the location of LRA we gave up the idea. Just in any case we asked the price of the visit. And they speculated that the price would be quite high, because there had not been any white in sight for a long time.

Back to the overnight place. There we were given an oppurtunity to wash ourselves in the former colonizwr`s big and almost empty house. The bathroom was very big about 4x4 metres, a bath in the corner and in front of it a bowl with cold water and a bucket with hot water. The light came from a torch hanging by the window . Later an electric generater was working and we had a chance to watch news from TV.

Miraculously 65 km of completly decent road took us to Faradji. It was mentioned at the border as well , that the roads were better there , but it was a surprise anyway. Having arrived we tried to find the police to register ourselves decently. It took time , but in the long run we found the right place and the right officer . He went home to bring the stamp and having stamped the Travel Permit wished to get 5 $ per person.

After a longer and generally friendly conversation the sum was 2 $, but our appetite for any payment was completely gone. The officer`s own words were that he was in a very unpleasant situation , as there was not any salary from the government and it was so unpleasant to ask 2 $ to feed the family.

Waiting for the officer. Faradji.
While in town in many times white Hummers with UN letters caught our eye.

And from the conversation it came out that here were peacekeepers from Marocco. And that was a good news because Joao`s current residence was Marocco as well. We stopped the next Hummer and thanks to Joao`s knowledge of the Arabic Language and his living in Marocco, we were expected guests at the UN camp at once. We asked the direction of the local market , as we needed some local Congo money , and to response the Moroccans with his Hummer came with us as safeguard to the market.

At the UN camp the men from Nepal are building the the road and the men from Morocco protect. And politically it is more accurate, that there are arabs here, because they are more feared compared to white and from the other side they are also Africans. About twenty kilometres was another UN camp. We were again very friendly accepted there, good food was offered and and for the road - packed food, juice and water was was also given to take with and also invitation to visit Morocco. It was almost 3 p.m. when we started. Just for a moment a thought crossed my mind – it is too late to start , but as the next town was supposed to be 40 kilometres away and it was 4 hours before it gets dark - and so we started moving on. And the road was up till now as seen in the picture below.

And then the nice and decent road came to an end, and entirely different Congo roads began - in short - the situation is as the online info says - I`ll copy and paste here.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has fewer all-weather paved highways than any country of its population and size in Africa --
a total of 2250 km, of which only 1226 km is in good condition (see below).

To put this in perspective, the road distance across the country in any direction is more than 2500 km
(e.g. Matadi to Lubumbushi, 2700 km by road).

The figure of 2250 km converts to 35 km of paved road per 1,000,000 of population.
Comparative figures for Zambia (one of the poorest African countries) and Botswana (one of the richest) are 580 km and 3427 km respectively.

The total road network in 2005, according to UNJLC:[19]-
total: 171,250 km
paved: 2,250 km
unpaved: 15,000 km
tracks 43,000 km
country roads 21,000 km
local roads or footpaths 90,000 km
So the situation was really terrible , compared to this road all the previous ones were very good . This Marsabit road or by another common name „Marsabit Hell“ between Ethiopia – Kenya was a joke compared to the roads of Congo.

If we had known at that moment what kind of a road was waiting ahead, we would have spent the night at UN camp. And they themselves had offerd the opportunity to overnight there. We drove about 10 kilometres along the new and fresh road, met some road builders and then the real unbelieveble horrow began.

Holes – about half metre deep, water about 40 cm, some deeper, some lower.
Meanwhile , areas covered with water about tens of metres long. Congo. Like in film clips.

And all this is reality. The speed was about 10 km per hour, but in front of the bigger puddles I stopped the car and walked through the water, one can never know if the next poodle has very soft bottom, where one can be properly stuck . And it lasted for kilometres and kilometres, sometimes a few hundred metres of better road and then this kind of moon landscape again.

Congo Aba até Vurra Julho 2011 136-Copy

We met only a few big trucks coming towards us. And finally happened this that was supposed to happen. In the next village there was a puddle, larger than an avarage one and kind of wheel tracks passed it on the muddy side. And as a truck came from behind it was possibly to see the depth of the pond. It was about half a metre and very uneven.


At that moment it seemed that no way to pass through straight. A lot of local residents stood beside - some advised to drive beside the pool, others advised to drive through the water. I tried to go around, but the video clip shows what happened.

And there I was, stuck in the mud. And then I experienced something that I had read in other blogs . That was a roar of laughter and spiteful words – what a fool a white man is ! About twenty of them were standing by the pond on the opposite shore and laughed and sneered from all the heart. It was of no surprise. I knew that it could happen. And it was made very clear that now we have to pay the money. Of course, already half of the day has passed and nobody hasn`t asked any money yet.

A push – out failed, because the car was completely stuck on the bottom. After two – hours of messing around in the mud and attampts to lift with the jack Joao drove in a local moto taxi to the UN camp to bring support. As the camp was 30 kilometres away , the waiting was long and still I tried to get the car out of the mud accompanied with locals´ laughter.


In the long run I managed the locals to pose in front of the camera and some of them began to shovel mud and other staff from under the car.


So when it began to darken I managed to have the situation that I could get out from the mud and drove with great speed through the pools about 20 metres until the soil was firmer. Out at last. And next came heavy tropical downpour from the darkening sky.

And the locals began to demand money for their assistance. Which was not a surprise because , well, some of them really helped. And then from the distance an approaching car was heard and the peacekeepers Hummer with Joao and 5-6-other men reached the place. The locals at once became a couple of degrees more quiet and they got 8000 congolese francs or 8 $.

Next there was a choice - either to drive back or to drive on about 10 kilometres accompanied with Hummer and then it was said that the road gets better. My own plan was to go back and start again in the morning , the others suggested to drive on. They said that the pouring rain would turn the road even worse and then this 10 kilometres back and more 10 kilometres had to be passed again and even in worse conditions. And it could be raining for several days.

Driving further on I followed the rear lights of Hummer.

Sometimes the pools were of this kind that my own headlights disappeared several times under the water, and visibility was almost non-existent. Anyway, thanks to the vehicle in front , it was possible to see how long the pool was and how deep. No need to make a stop and walk in the water.
And then there was THE BIGGEST HOLE . Probably the deepness was a meter or a metre and a half, could not understand in the dark and rain, but no other option to drive on beside it. Somehow the Hummer got through, climbed out from the other end and stopped. I didn`t stop, drove with great speed on into the hole, the water flew high , the car`s nose reached the other shore and even a bit higher , but could not get completely out, the rear part of the car remained in the water. Too steep.

Thanks to Hummer and the chains in about half an hour the bus was pulled out.
That was the first of this kind of holes which are practically impossble for small cars to pass through. About some hundred metres on and the UN men said that the worst and most insecure part of the road was over. We bid farewell, they invited us to visit them in Marocco and Hummer went back.

We stayed in a dark and rainy Congo forest. The next inhabited place was said to be about 20 kilometres away, it was probably 9 p.m. , anyway, it was dark and it was pouring.

The road forward was basically the same, fortunately the holes were not metre-deep. But this big hole taught that these water-filled holes could be very suspicious, you drive in and very easily you could turn over on one side of the bus. Which is the worst thing to happen , because as soon as water gets inside the engine - it is the end of diesel engine. Short and concrete.

And then something unexpected happened – the next pool was about 5 metres long and it seemed that driving in good speed through could be possible.

But it was not, because the other end was too steep to get up and out, the first bumper was against the wall of the hole and we were in the hole. I tried to reverse backwards but there was only the sound of the splashing water , because the rear wheels were in the water, but didn`t reach the bottom. As the hook behind the car was on the edge of the hole and it kept the car from falling into the hole. Neither back nor forth. Without this hook we would have been stuck in this hole even much worse.

The worst raining was over, in the moonlight something was seen , around us the frogs were croaking and other voices of jungle were heard. The first option that came to mind was to spend the night there, well, how to get the car out could be seen when it gets lighter. Because while driving in the dark one can get stuck again in some 100 metres. We looked around and then about in some hundred meters ahead the car lights appeared. It was local public transport or Toyota Hilux. I took my ropes out and as the attempt to pull the bus forward failed, they passed over and tried to pull from the rear .

And out of the hole we were. These men were practical, when we asked the price of the pulling out they asked in return if we had a litre of diesel oil to give them. We had. And as one of their passangers had a fever something against fever was also asked. I had something and gave that too.

It is very unusual and strange around here that money is asked for this kind of assistance. When a couple of days later this issue was discussed with the locals, they were told that in case somebody has problems with snow or mud in our country , then this kind of money-asking is not met . They were surprised that we don`t use this kind of a chance to earn money.

Next through pools and water. And suddenly - just in front of us intersection and a decent road to the right and left. Not a single map showed that road. Also the map of GPS didn`t show any road here. Probably this road was too new, but it seemed more appropriate to take that road. After a couple of kilometres a kind of light caught the eye and driving closer there was a building surrounded by high barbed fence and also a lighted advertising box, believe your eyes or not.

Really weird. Emptiness, the Congolese jungle and then bank? As there was some movement behind the fence, we asked permission to overnight there, as it was one o`clock at night already. Anyway, the gate was opened and we were allowed to drive in and sleep till morning. It turned out that there was a gold mine next to it , owned probably by a South African company. At least a safe place to sleep. It was even mentioned that it could be that we would even have a chance to have a closer look at the mine. But at 6 in the morning the boss of security came and didn`t wish to see any car in the territory. So we had to get away fast. The next 100 km the road towards Uganda was decent. The locals said that the roads to inland were passable only by bike or motorcycle.

The further situation was such – one decent road downwards to Congo leads through Uganda. And leaving Congo for a while could mean again payment- for getting in to the country, for the car and everything else. The map showed also a yellow road downwards to Bunia, but after driving for 30 kilometres this nice road it changed, and being stuck in the mud for a couple of hours and listening the same time the laugh and derision of the locals I decided to turn back to the settlement Aru, close to the border.

1 comment:

Joao Leitao said...

wow what a nice adventure!!! :) thanks for taking me Tarmo! hug