Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Angola 2

We left Andrew and Kristinas house and needed to head south as quickly as we can. We needed to be in Zambia, Livingstone by the 17th of April to meet my mom and Roger and it was the 6th of April already. So we left early that morning and hoped the car would be ok. Rob mentioned it was still smoking when he brought it back from the garage the night before, and boy he wasn't kidding! It was still just as bad it was before we replaced the turbo. My thoughts were in the line of "oh shit!! The car is still broken!!"... But Rob ensured me that it would still smoke because of the excess oil in the exhaust and would burn through soon. Then he added 'hopefully' to the end of his reassurance... Well we decided to drive and see what happens, trying to dodge all the police officers in the process!! Eventually we made it out of Luanda where Rob could put his foot down. About an hour after setting off we noticed the smoke dying off and eventually it was gone!!! Well, we had a mini celebration in the car and I could feel Robs tension and worry finally dissappearing.
After about half a day of driving, Rob finally said, he was happy with Daisy and she was driving like a champion. What a relief!!

We drove past amazing scenery and I was absolutely gutted we've had to miss such an amazing country. We drove past an amazing river with huge colourful escarpments either side of it. It was absolutely stunning, so we stopped to enjoy a cold beer to break up the driving. Stunning place!!

We eventually arrived into Lobito where we would camp for the night at Zulu Bar. A lovely restaurant that welcomes overlanders to camp on the beach for free with the use of showers and toilets. We had heard Kars and Simone were there at Zulu Bar, as Kars was recovering from malaria. He had caught it a couple of days before we arrived and spent 2nights in a clinic where they could monitor his fever. As we parked up and got out to greet them, he seemed well and approached us holding a beer!! Top form!!! We enjoyed our evening chatting and catching up before making boerewors, lettuce and tomato sandwiches for our dinner. Yes this was luxury!! 

We had a slow start in the morning which was lovely, enjoying cereal for our breakfast. Since we had been to a Shoprite (a South African grocery store), I could go nuts and get all my childhood loves. Yes I was like a kid in a candy store!! So that morning I enjoyed strawberry pronutro (a strawberry flavoured readybrek, or porridge), yes everyone looked at me strangely while I enjoyed my pink paste for breakfast. But I didn't care, as I was in food heaven! 

I popped off to have a quick shower before we headed off, which doesn't seem so out of the ordinary. But today would prove interesting. I went to open the ladies showers, but they were locked. So I tried the men's when a man next to me said, 'this lady will open the door for me'. Perfect! So we both wondered in and there was one shower with no curtain. She worked at Zulu bar and hung up her bag and started to change into her work gear. I wasn't going to just get starkers next to her; I'd wait until she was done and then I could have a shower in peace. She eventually left, but there was no lock on the door, so this was going to be a quick in and out. After I was done drying myself off and putting on my panties, three ladies wandered in and all stopped in the doorway when they saw my white ass and boobs on display. They stood there in shock with door wide open, so I just ushered them in, in hope they would close the door. I thought they would continue with their business like the other lady, but they just stood there staring at my naked body, while chatting about what they saw in Portugese. This couldn't be more awkward and I scrambled to get my clothes on and get out of there!! I'm not sure if they had seen a white person naked before with intense tan lines!! It did make me laugh afterwards, when I could gather my thoughts about what had just happened. 

After telling Rob about my embarrassing experience, and him laughing at me too. It was time to hit the road again. Before leaving Lobito we stopped at a man waving Kwanza's at us so we thought we'd change a small amount for a petrol stop. He tried to sell us 300kwanzas for $1. No way were we doing that as in the last two weeks the dollar had strengthened, so Rob immediately said 390. He just said ok! No bartering, no nothing. Dammit we could have even tried for a higher rate, but 390 was good. So we couldn't complain! 

We drove to Lubango where we drove past a 4x4 camping shop, so we had to stop to check it out. Now it was time for Rob to act like a kid in a candy store, his eyes had widened as we walked around seeing awesome stuff on offer that you could not get in England unless you were willing to pay a pretty penny for it. It was good stuff and cheap!! Luckily I managed to get him out of there without spending a thing. Phew!!!
We then called Cat and Charles and decided we would meet up at the Shoprite in town. 
Rob had given me grief about meeting up with them again, taking his frustration about the car and everything else out on me. Rob wanted to spend a day or two alone to see what it would be like travelling just the two of us, but we had bombed it through. I think he was feeling jealous they had such a cool experience while we were stressing about the car in Luanda. To be fair, he likes his own company, so if he had it his way he would have sent me off with Charles and Cat if they had a spare seat.
But it was hugs all round and I was thrilled to see them and find out all about their travels in Angola. After a quick stop into Shoprite, we decided to head off for a drink where we could catch up. It was a lovely little spot where we could enjoy a bottle of red altogether.
On our way to the campsite, the heavens opened and we were in for a very rainy night. We quickly put up the tent in rain and we were all drenched! We all laughed as Charles even enjoyed a quick shower in the rain. Luckily our campsite had a little shelter where we could light a fire and enjoy our dinners listening to the rain pitter patter on the tin roof while we dried off. We sat chatting the night away which was great fun.

In the morning we decided to go do some touristy things. I wasn't going to leave Angola without seeing at least one of the beautiful sights it had to offer. Rob was less than thrilled as he just wanted to reach Zambia without stopping. He moaned that we didn't have enough time and said I was being selfish. I suppose I was being selfish, but we had spent so much money on our visa and we had heard such amazing things from Andrew and Kelse, that I had to see some of it. It would have been a shame not to. After working out that we had about 1300km to do in 10days, I knew we would be fine. So we went off and saw the famous Serre da Leba pass even with a grumpy Rob. But he seemed to let his guard down when we saw the amazing sights it offered as we descended down the winding steep road. It was magnificent as the clouds hovered in the valley with the mountains poking out in the distance. As we got down further and further we saw beautiful paintings/graffiti on the walls next to the road. We then did a quick u-turn and made our way back up where we would stop at a view point to take in the amazing sight of the road and the mountains. Absolutely stunning and a definite must!!

We then decided to head to another view point on the other side of town which offered an amazing view of the valleys under this massive escarpment. We drove up the valley with grassland everywhere and then all of a sudden large boulders started lining the roads. Some balancing on top of one another and we wondered how they got there and didn't fall off. Rob unfortunately, was now fuming as we were wasting valuable time we could be making bombing our way to the border of Namibia. But even though he had a sour face, I could tell he was loving seeing the beauty that Angola was showing us. We got to the top and walked to the view point. I can't put into words how magnificent the views were. We stood looking down and watched the clouds roaring up the banks and then disappearing to reveal sights as far as the eye could see. I could have sat there for ages pondering life and taking in this phenomenal view. 

We left Lubango and although I might have been incredibly selfish making us see the sights, but I was happy we did and I think secretly Rob was too. We drove on through the day and slowly I could feel Robs frustration fading away after making good distance. We reached a small town where Rob had seen a sign for N'gola, an Angolan beer that we had not yet tried. So we did a quick stop to have a taster. Rob enjoyed it but his favourite would still be Cuca and Superbock. We had seen a note on the maps that said there was a massive baobab tree just outside the town so we decided to check it out and hopefully bushcamp there for the night. We drove down a sandy road passing little villages and waving to say hi. Eventually we arrived to three very large baobabs which would turn out to be a beautiful spot to make camp. The ground was however crawling with incredibly large ants that had a serious stinging bite to them. So it was a quick change into long pants and shoes before whipping out the chairs, beers and wine so we could watch the beautiful sun set and later enjoy the moonless sky that revealed an incredible array of stars. Rob even pulled out the camera to fiddle with the settings in hope to take a good shot of the night sky. We were being dive bombed by massive bugs as soon as we turned on a light, so it was proving a little difficult, but we had fun trying. 

It was our last day in Angola and it was definitely a country I'd like to come back to and explore more! We loved seeing some of the woman still wearing their traditional African outfits, not bothered about their boobs hanging loose and in the open. Not letting the modern world interfere with their traditional way of life. We watched how the young children carried around their plastic chairs that they would use for school. And lastly, we enjoyed seeing the little evidence left of the war that ended not long ago in 2012. Some old tankers lay on the side of roads which was very interesting to see.

The next morning we made a quick bacon and egg breakfast before heading to the Santa Clara border. A very easy border but the first one we had digital scanners and computers before checking us out of Angola. Very high tech from the hand written books we had become accustomed to. It did still take its time as the lady at immigration entering our details into the system was a SLOW typer. It was then at the customs post where the officials were unsure about the carnet's and pulled out some old forms from previous travellers to make sure. We laughed as we saw Andy's form from Wheelie Adventurous, an awesome guy we had met during our trip down Africa. But they stamped us out eventually and we went through with no hassle.

On the Namibian side we met a lovely ENGLISH (wahooo!!!) speaking lady spraying the underneath of our cars with disinfectant and asked us each to get out of the cars and wipe our shoes on a rag with more disinfectant. It was the first time we had to do that! Then it was for immigration where they checked our temperatures for possible Ebola alerts, luckily Cat passed as she had come down with a cold in the past few days and not feeling her best. We then filled in some forms and handed our passports over. Charles and I tried to use our South African passports, but she said she couldn't stamp us in on a different passport to the exit stamp we had in Angola. So we had to stick to our British passports. Bugger, we were hoping to try change over to our South African as it should be much easier in the southern countries. We will have to try our luck again at the Zambian border. 

It was then time to pay the road tax of N$242 (£12) for the use of foreign vehicles in Namibia and then off to customs where we got our carnet stamped quickly and efficiently. We asked about insurance for the vehicles and they all looked at us blankly, so I guess that was answer enough that we did not need insurance for Namibia. We drove out of the border gates and were greeted by driving on the left hand side of the road!! Finally we were driving right hand drive vehicles on the correct side of the road!! 
We were in Namibia!!!! Immediately I had a strange feeling that made me smile with happiness. A feeling of home struck me hard! We drove past South African companies after another. Everyone spoke either English or Afrikaans, and everyone was supper friendly. We had hit the southern countries as I knew them. This was fantastic!!! 
We popped into a busy pick'n'pay (grocery store) and it was buzzing with people and queues. Normally I'd be out of there and not wanted to deal with the chaos. But I was lovely the hustle and bustle while being surrounded by products that brought me to the good old days; my childhood in SA!! Nostalgia took over and I held back my tears!! I didn't realise it would hit me this hard!

Even Rob was loving the prices, food selection and booze I had introduced to him to over our years together in England while dragging him to every South African store I could. We were loving this, even chatting to the security guards who were guarding our overloaded cars was amazing. Yip, I was one happy lady!! 

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