DR Congo Rally: Kinshasa – Lubumbashi 4

Day 6 – 28/12 

Km: 30

Road:  deep sand

Weather: 38°C, hot

Wild orchids in the bush where we slept over night. A good sign for the new day ahead of us!

But it was a deceitful one: this road was tougher than us, curving our every attempt to play it. The Defender got stock over and over again and the rescue tools started to get jammed with sand.

In the extreme heat the right front tyre was loose from the rim, so sand got in, and the tyre deflated. We soon leart that the air conditioning compressor from the car, that Jacques also used to power some handy tools, was no longer working. We would investigate that later at the bivouac. My chain was also looking bad… I was worried that we were heading for disaster. 3 km before the bridge in Luange we got stopped by the police again: we were crossing from one county to another, so they wanted to write down on their notebooks our passport and visa info. But they could hardly read or write, so after we beard with them 30 min., we just left. But after the bridge the others were waiting. One more hour of lame chatter, while Ana and Jacques were buying food and water from the villagers. Then we got the bad news: the trucks were stuck, blocking the deviation for the small vehicles, so we had to go through the enormous mud trenches. I got out through some villager’s yard, but of course the car got stuck and the riot began: people gone berserk at the situation, and we struggled to cope with the stress, noise, heat and difficult operation. We somehow managed to get out of that madness and find a calm bush camp for our worn out souls.

But the night didn’t spare us: a huge storm started, with massive thunders and lightenings that struck so close they made us cuddle in fear. Our tent was leaking water, we folded our mattresses, laid towels and t-shirts on the puddles that dribbled in, and tried to get some sleep.

Day 7 – 29/12 

Km: 0

Weather: 36°C, hot

We knew we had to try to fix the compressor and inflate the tires, so got to work.

We oiled it and tried many things, but it was too late.

So we greased the elevator and inflated the tires with my small compressor.

In the meantime the girls did the laundry with rain water from last night.

Day 8 – 30/12 

Km: 37

Road: bad deep sand

Weather: 34°C cloudy

Our most difficult moment will remain unphotographed. In the morning of our 200th day on African adventure, we had our toughest climb: a hilly, muddy track with huge holes dug by downpours. The kids and girls climbed on foot, but the car was inevitably stuck and later dug out. We had to dug away to cut our way, because the road was too narrow ahead to continue.

Before noon I was stuck in deep sand and I had to put the bike on one side and pull it away into the right track. Jacques jumped in to give me a hand, but slipped and fell onto his back, hitting the hardened roadside. For a few seconds he could not breathe: we knew we had to stop and lay the mat for him to rest. He took some anti-inflammatory drug and a pain killer, but we were all shaken by the event. After lunch he was not feeling any better and was too tired and too stressed  to cope with the innumerable people that chased the car like hyenas a wounded elephant.

After another breakdown we knew the day should come to an end: we got out of the mud and searched for a place. Unfortunately we ended up in a fly infested plane, the bloody beast were biting really badly so we wasted no time to look for shelter in our tents.