Last night the team met 2 South Africans at a restaurant who are busy mapping the IndianOcean around Pointe de Noir on a ship. This is in preparation for other crews to search for gas and oil. It was quiet interesting to listen to the type of work they are doing and being based in Cape Town they are called to various ships around the African coast in preparation for the search of gas and oil.
Whilst being extremely well qualified to map the ground of the oceans it became a little bit more difficult for them to master Nkonki’ s chess and a white flag had to be shown…
2 new friends met in Point de Noir…….
Off today and back on the road through the winding mountains driven the day before but at least on perfect tar and 4hours later Doussala ( on some maps the town is called Dolisie and prior to 1991 it was called Loubomo ) was reached and a police stop requested to check passports and car papers which was no problem.
The main road to Brazzaville ……
..and the road sign warning….
As the tar ended the team thought that this could only be a detour as the construction of a new road could be seen in the distance. This was now the beginning of a 400 km ride to Brazzaville which will not easily be forgotten. The next 320km was a ride on indescribable roads and not even pictures can tell the state of the road which needed to be followed. It was a gravel road full of deepest potholes but on the side the construction of a new road was clearly visible and often crossed the pothole road.
On these crossings there was always a boom to allow construction vehicles onto the new road ( still gravel but nicely levelled without potholes ) and manned by one or two security guard giving team Lipstick a clear sign that they would not be allowed onto these roads under construction.
Having passed about 5 such crossing team Lipstick decided that this must be probably tested and VOILA : 500 Caf ( 10 Rand) convinced the security guards that Lipstick indeed is a construction vehicle with two civil engineers on board checking the construction of the road.
From time to time the team however had to turn back onto the old road due to the building of bridges and thereafter the negotiations with the security guys had to start again.
This must have happened a good dozen times when another unfinished bridge appeared and the team needed to divert back onto the pothole road but this time 2 army guys armed with AK47 guns felt it necessary to investigate why team Lipstick was travelling on a road forbidden to the public .Papers had to be shown and the two law enforcement officers mentioned that a fine of 25000 Cafes (500 Rand) was laid down by law for such a contravention.
After much negotiations between team Lipstick and the powers of the moment it was agreed that the team would not insist on a receipt for 5000 CAF (100Rand) and the 2 army guys promised that they will use the money for their next police office Christmas party….
For the next hour it was back to the pothole road until about 5 pm with an hour of daylight left when the security points became unmanned (obviously the security guys only work till 5 pm) and Lipstick was off again on the construction roads which however came to an end shortly before Mindouli (Note Tracks for Africa show it as Tar but there is definitely no tar -the potholes must have swallowed every bit of tar that was there some moons ago)
By now the sun started to disappear and it was a twilight atmosphere when driving through Mindouli which was a typical African village consisting of some 100 huts. At the end of the town Lipstick was stopped by police and army who did a proper inspection of very document available from Carnet de passage to driver’s licences and passports.
Sunset on way to Brazzaville
stranded in Mindouli 120km west of Brazzaville
After about 20minutes all papers were handed back to the team and in broken English the chief commander said:
Papers very good you are welcome to proceed to Brazzaville tomorrow morning
Sorry you misunderstand – we are driving to Brazzaville today it is one 110km away
NO NO nobody can drive on this road at night there are many Banditos
But it is only 6pm and we could be there by 8.
Ok I will phone head office in Brazzaville to maybe get permission for you
There the team was, in the middle of the Congo in a previously unknown village with fires starting all around as this seems to be time for local dinners. Impossible! Lipstick wants to move on since two days ago the team are the most experienced night drive over landers since the sun began to shine on earth!
Mes Amis(myfriends) head office in Brazzaville says NO NO totally impossible you need to stay here until tomorrow 6am. You must not worry you are safe – I will sleep next to your car – me commander and in charge of all… too many Banditos on road here you very safe
Wow here they are but when the going gets tough …. Team Lipstick makes a plan, out comes the table, 2 chairs, 1l J&B and water and the surroundings were explored. 10m away is a little shop selling beer which is an ideal base for a mixture of Scot and water….
Cheers to Mindouli….
With beer bought from local shop owner….
Now it’s over to make friends with army staff and police, joking and introducing them to the great game of Nkonki Chess which showed them that we are on a mission of friendliness and humour…
Between the teams knowledge of French and the broken Congo English of the soldiers the conversations took on until shortly before midnight when the first yawns became apparent on the Congo side – only to be followed by team Lipstick.
Table was folded,empty cans and bottles neatly packed into waste bags (great surprise to the Congo army) and team Lipstick proceeded to a good few hours rest in the car which at this stage promised to be the best barrier against the now ever increasing attack by the mosquitos…..
Lipsticks night in Mindouli…………..