DRC Prison Camp

 

The Prison Camp

Twelve days have now passed and we are getting itchy feet!

The Beast is back after a week in the garage and is hopefully in tip-top condition for the next leg of our journey, several mechanics crawling all over him and they seemed very thorough,so fingers crossed,no more problems for a while.

Good news came yesterday by e-mail from Jim, the lovely man in the Angolan embassy(who has been pushing our visa applications forward) we have them at last and they have already been collected by DHL ,hopefully reaching us at the weekend.

We haven’t been very adventurous in Kinshasa,just catching up with e-mails,doing photo’s,washing,cleaning ,general fixing and re-organising things and as we haven’t had a vehicle we haven’t been out too much ,except for the odd trip to the most delicious pizza restaurant !

Being in a large city,means the people haven’t been quite as warm and friendly as we’ve been used to,plus the Landrover has always been a good conversation starter and we haven’t had it with us, although for some reason they don’t seem to understand our French………strange that !!

 

Hooray we have at last got our passports with Angola visa’s back in our hands,couriered safely from London via Brussels and Nigeria,to us in DRC,a really snazzy colourful visa too,so you can imagine our delight (despite having paid DHL 200 dollars for the privilege) what could possibly go wrong now?? !!

The Joy – release papers arrived

 

We set off for Angola the minute visa’s reached us. It took an hour or so to leave Kinshasa ,driving out through the markets etc , but when we finally hit the main road to Matardi ,the Blue beast started violently juddering again but this time not just at 45 mph,but anything from 20 mph on the slightest bump on smooth roads.

By now we were a long way from our so called expert Landrover garage which by now was shut for the weekend and we assumed it was something simple that was loose,we stopped had the wheels off,checked everything,including wheel bearings,couldn’t find anything obvious,so decided to continue very slowly another 100 km to next town,it was dark and we found a very strange little place to stay,much to my relief,as driving in the dark is quite horrendous here and to be avoided at all cost .We had some stale bread and a sweaty piece of Edam cheese which we shared with the young boy in charge of the Hotel.

Next day was spent at another garage basically a training school for student mechanics with everyone scratching their heads and us getting hassled by many people for food and money.

mechanics school

 

 

With the Beast still juddering we set of to Matardi where we found some guys who thought they knew what the problem was. They referred to it as “the shimmy”

They got to work using our borrowed tools and as things were progressing a guy turned up saying he was from immigration and his office was across the road and he wanted to check papers etc, no problems etc. Thats when the fun started – he with 5 mates with guns sitting around asked for passports then decided the visas had expired I pointed out they had not and we had checked with immigration in kinshasa and showed him the card a guy there had given me He took this and put that together with passports in a drawer. Insisting there now was a problem that $200 would resolve!

I kept arguing patiently, assisted by one of the guys who was helping us, this then turned into a full scale inquiry as to his job, parents, place of birth etc he made a crude statement as to our meeting etc which he signed but the immigration guy insisted he was the expert he had the uniform badge etc. At this point I decided to call his bluff as said that was it he could keep passports until the following day – Monday – when the big chef returned. He changed his tune a bit insisting he was right but that something still had to be paid. Eventually I gave him $50 dollars to get passports back as I did not fancy another day of arguing my case.

Checking the passports I realised the idiot “Expert” was in fact looking at the visas for the other Congo hence his insistence on expiry so he could not even identify his own visas. I went back and confronted him and pointed out his so called expertise involved not recognising his own countries visas – small beer but made me feel better and him look an idiot infront of his gun toting mates but he refused to hand back the money so I said I would be contacting head office the following day but decided I had pushed it enough.

 

Got back to the mechanics who said he had pulled the same trick on other tourists a month before and got lots of money, they were fed up as they felt it impacted on their business but theres not a lot they could do, The fact that he could not even recognise a DRC visa was appreciated though! Hopefully he will not be allowed to forget it

After the shimmy – no shake – smiles all round

 

Off for a test drive and bingo sorted!! the joy cannot be described – not sure what they did but one bit involved making a rubber bush/ washer on the steering arm. They said needed sorting properly in Namibia but that it would do the job.

Of to a posh hotel for final preparations for the Angolan rally the next day. Just before going down to eat Emma spotted a mouse come out from under the bed. So that started the great mouse hunt involving moving all the furniture several time and bashing wildly with the travel guide. Eventually an expert diving slam dunk did the job.

A succesful hunt – although a mouse is not really what we need to worry about