Democratic Republic of Congo: Lubumbashi to Kinshasa

constructeur

Adventurer
Salut Frederik!

I've reviewed your website and I'm still curious of a few things. These questions apply to all your travels, not just this trip.

How do you and Josephine get on with washing clothes? and if they need drying (If it's the rainy season and you can't rely on the sun or dry heat)

How are you cooking?

How is your car interior outfitted?

Could you also include something of items or tools you wish you had, and things you installed and don't use that much.
 

grahamfitter

Expedition Leader
Nope, no winch. We would have used it often if we had one, but at when we were preparing for the trip we could choose between buying a winch, or an extra month on the road. We went for the extra month.
Good for you!

When you were busy digging, did you think you should have bought a winch instead of some other things you bought for the trip? Or would you have preferred to leave them behind, too, for another extra month on the road?

Thanks for a great story. Hopefully it inspires many others.
 

RadioBaobab

Adventurer
I've reviewed your website and I'm still curious of a few things. These questions apply to all your travels, not just this trip.

How do you and Josephine get on with washing clothes? and if they need drying (If it's the rainy season and you can't rely on the sun or dry heat)
If we stayed at a campsite and had running water, we did the wash there. When you travel for a long time, you regularly stay somewhere for a few days to get organized again. Sometimes we were "on the go" for a longer period of time, then we washed up in rivers or whatever was available. We did this immediately after stopping at night. If it wasn't dry in the morning, we hung some bungees in the back of the car. We probably had a permanent grubby look though.
In DRC it was a lost case. The humidity, the mud, the digging. We looked -and smelled - like we got stuck in the jungle for two months! ;-)

How are you cooking?
Started out with a Coleman two pit gasoline burner. Great piece of kit, but after 9 months of dirty African fuel it was really finished. Everything was black black black, bad burning, etc.. Barely useable. In Japan we bought the same stove again. Seconhand. That one was shot after 6 months of dirty Russian fuel. We then ordered a Primus Omnifuel and had it shipped to Cairo. A bit more work to set up, and only one pit. But it worked. After 6 months we had to rebuild the entire stove, but it is still functional now.

How is your car interior outfitted?
Some pictures from during the buildup can be found here: http://radiobaobab.be/index.php?id=178 . We could sit inside in emergencies or if it was really cold. It was ok, but on the long cold evenings it was a bit cramped. In the warm countries we lived outside ofcourse.
Everything homemade on the interior.

Could you also include something of items or tools you wish you had, and things you installed and don't use that much.
Phew, difficult question. I once formulated a better and more detailed answer for this, but I can't really remember. You can soon read it in Chris Scott's new book (Overland Handbook) which is due for publication
In short: we used everything we took and didn't miss anything we didn't take. Which does not mean we really 'needed' everything we took.
 
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RadioBaobab

Adventurer
When you were busy digging, did you think you should have bought a winch instead of some other things you bought for the trip? Or would you have preferred to leave them behind, too, for another extra month on the road?
When we were busy digging we thought of only one thing: getting out of the obstacle, using whatever was available. Thinking about the things that we did not have but could have helped us at the time would have been a sure recipe to get a depression.

But yes, it did cross our mind. And yes, it would have helped tremendously and reduced the damage the our car (the value of all the things we broke exceeds - by far - the price of a winch). But did we need it? Nope, we have always gotten out this far without a winch

But given the option, I would choose the month extra any time.

That said, I am building a new and improved version and a winch is on my shopping list.. but only if we have some spare cash..

Then again, there is something magical about getting trough impossible obstacles. The improvisation, the stress, the hard labour.. Great stuff! A winch would kinda spoil the fun ;-)
 

Tom B

Observer
Frederik,

Just another thanks for taking your time to share your incredible trip report! Makes me wish I had budgeted time to see Nyiragongo when I was in Rwanda.
 

smslavin

Adventurer
I've just spent the last couple of hours reading this. I'm floored. Great read and I'm looking forward to the rest. Your attitudes are simply amazing. Thank you for taking the time to write this up.
 

Area56

New member
You guys demonstrate the profound difference between YOU and 99% of the guys on this forum....

With this one picture.

Your truck is to be used and not just for show.:victory:



More please!
LOL, yeah. I inherited a truck from my Grandfather that looked like this. He said something about getting across a creek. Now I understand what happened.

Great story, keep it coming. I couldn't do it though, I can't stand the stress of dealing with little beggers when I go to an island. I can't imagine an entire country of this mentality.
 

RadioBaobab

Adventurer


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The road was pretty varied. Jungle track. 'Bouncing track', weird patches of newly constructed road, etc.. I am not sure which kind of road we liked more... or disliked more.. . Often we had to wait to let the bicycles pass, sometimes they had to wait to let us pass.

Not surprisingly we would not make it to Pembeyangu today either. They gave us too much hope in Kananga that we could make it in one day. It was obvious that nobody there had recently travelled on this stretch. Or maybe they had travelled it on foot or on a bicycle, and they do not have a clue how difficult this road is with 4 wheels instead of 2.



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We stopped in the biggest 'town' in the area, Domiongo. It took a bit of searching to find a cathalic mission, it was on the outskirts of the villlage. Once again we were greeted friendly and had permission to camp in their grounds. We sat together with the fathers and talked for many hours.

They told us about the mysterious roads. Apparently some NGO (they did not know the details... or they told the details and we forgot) has funded the construction. Several teams started working at several locations. The different bits were supposed to connect at one point. As of recent, work had nearly stopped... no more budget. It was unclear if more budget would become available or not. In any case the idea of the construction was to invest all the money in labour instead of buying an expensive CAT. Great idea ofcourse, that way all the money stayed in DRC, instead of filling the pocket of some bigwig at CAT. If you look at the road it was quite a feat. They thought about drainage and everything. Unfortunately they could not compress the earth enough with the tools they had. We already started a few ruts, it would only take 1 heavy truck to completely destroy these roads again. These roads would not last a rainy season.

The major complaint of the fathers was the upcome of all sorts of other religious movements (we talked about 7th day adventists before, but other movements were active in the area too). They claimed that they grew in popularity because of the animated ceremonies. But these movements did not have the social network and organisation behind them as the catholic missions. People would no longer work at the farm of the mission, would drop out of school, etc... Apparantly 'alternative' religions were also gaining in poularity, like fetishism, ..

Anyway, we talked about many other things too, it was a pleasant evening with interesting people.



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In the evening the fathers would run their generator for a few hours. It was in a little hut very close to our tent. The hut was half submersed from the rain water. All of a sudden the generator shorted. Smoke and blue lightning came out of the hut. One of the fathers ran in the hut, barefoot (!), with a stick and hit the offending cable until it got disconnected. Brave father!
 
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RadioBaobab

Adventurer
We came across a small motorcycle. You'd see them from time to time, it is the most luxurious transportation people have here. They are litte chinese 50cc (or 125cc) bikes. We stopped to let him pass and he stopped to greet and ask us if we had some oil for his engine.

All over the world there is an unwritten rule that in remote or difficult to travel areas people help eachother. That is why in the sahara everybody says hi to eachother. That is why in the Mongolian steppe people drive for kilometers just to check up on you. People help when needed as they know they will be helped when they are in need. We very much honour this unwritten rule and will always assist when we can.

So when this guy asks for oil, I do not hesitate and take out a my spare can of oil. I warn him that this is oil for diesel engines, but that does not matter to him. It is probably the best oil he would ever find to put in his little bike. As I am pouring oil from my can in his can the passenger of the bike starts begging with Josephine. I am not impressed when Josephine tells me. And when the bike owner too start to ask for money, it really pisses me off. We are helping this guy and still he begs for more? So I pour the oil out of his can back into mine and tell them to sod off. In our car and off we go.

For almost a month now we were in a serious fight with Congo. We were fighting against corruption. We were fighting against the roads. A constant battle. Congo was giving us a serious beating, but we stood strong and did not give in. Slowly but steadily we were winning this battle against the Congo.
But while we were so busy battling the roads and the corruption, Congo sneaked in from behind. It had transformed us into loud and angry people. With no remorse, no compassion, and a total lack of rules.

What happened to the unwritte rule of the road less travelled? The rule we nohour so much? All out of the door..

Congo had beaten us a long time ago already. Just like it had beaten most of its own citizens.. And we didn't have a clue
 
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