Now I have successfully completed the Congo’s, I feel my unbreakable motorcycle has now earned a name for itself. I only received two suggestions, one of which is a sure winner and I could not of thought of a more suitable name. I hereby, proudly name my motorcycle “Livingstone Congo”. I’m sorry Aunty Anne, “Mighty Marfa”, didn’t really compete.
Along todays ride, I cross an old bridge. Whilst doing so I put on my glasses to protect my eyes from the dusty road. I notice a metal sheet covering a whole in the surface so aim straight for it to avoid the bare reinforced steel with no concrete attached in other areas of the bridge. Because I’m riding with one, I stall the engine. My bike feels unusually light so I look behind and find my rear wheel now stuck in the hole. What I thought was a metal sheet wasn’t, it was just a layer of plastic which had been blown over the hole. I feel my bike slipping deeper in to the whole and panic thinking I and it will plunge in to the deep, murky waters below. I throw my glasses down and start the engine in first and let out my clutch. Luckily I regained traction and propelled the bike and I out of danger.
After approx. 170 miles of ball crushing unpaved, corrugated roads I finally arrive in Luanda. Along the way, there are road works and tricky diversions to contend with but at least it stayed dry, unlike yesterday. About forty miles short of Luanda the road welcomingly turns to tarmac.
Luanda is a large coastal city and port. It’s lovely to once again be by the coast after thousands of miles of inland riding.
Riding along, I look out to sea the ships line up to enter the busy, untidy port as the blazing sun reflects off the calm water.
Road diversion take me around the city and in to the slums by the port. The slums have been kind of constructed from corrugated sheets on top of rubbish heaps which have been covered in compacted sand similar to a land fill. The slums sit precariously 100 feet up high on top of the layered sand by the edge of a cliff face which looks as if it could collapse at any time. In fact there are wrecked slums lying at the bottom of the cliff face where the land has corroded in the rains.
I’m well ahead of schedule and in no rush so take my time and tour the city by motorcycle. I stop at a two star hotel and enquire the cost of a room which was $280 per night, I continue and after two hours of sat in the city traffic and fumes, I escaped slowly heading South along the coast road in search of a cheaper hotel out of the city.
My research told me Angola is expensive but never imagined it being more expensive than one of our richest cities in the world, London. The expensive cars with blacked out windows and mansions lining the coast line show that Angola is an expensive place to love and I suspect diamonds have brought their wealth.
There are police check points every couple of miles in the city which just pull over occasional cars. I stop to ask if there is a local hotel, they point down the road. Angola is a Portuguese speaking country so my French or English is useless here, nor can they speak my languages. At the hospidare, I have problems communicating with the receptionist until her and I both become frustrated. The price list complicates things even further as the rooms are charged for by the hour and makes me suspicious if it’s a brothel I’m booking in to. There is an off duty policeman the bar area who speaks English so we use him to translate until finally booking a room for the night for 80 USD. Once I see the room it’s clear that this isn’t no brothel. The small hotel is new, my bed has a mattress and it has a shower with hot water, all of which I haven’t experienced in weeks, a sure sign of things to come heading out of Central African countries. It feels strange, almost as if I don’t belong in this civilised country.
In my room there is a mirror, I appear to be losing weight daily no matter how much I eat. My clothes look too big and I’m now on the last notch of my belt which also seems to big. I order chips, steak, rice and salad from the restaurant and it’s served as if it would be back home. There is salt, vinegar and ketchup on the table, cold drinks in the fridge. Since entering Angola the experience just all feels so surreal and not what I have been used to over the last few weeks. The Chinese have certainly taken over the marketing of most products and services here as if there using Angola as an overspill country, though doing a very good job, it seems.
I like it here buts it’s too expensive on my budget so tomorrow, Livingstone and I will ride to Benguela still in Angola.
This evening, I receive a message from the two South African chaps who are just a few miles further south, so we plan to meet up along the way somewhere tomorrow.