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  #166  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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Fantastic stuff, thoroughly enjoyed the photos and 'local' colour! Keep it coming
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  #167  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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In front of us was the same guy that claimed he was "le chef de la police". He had dusted off his uniform. Looks like we made a little mistake there. We apologied for being so rude earlier and at the same time explained that we had so much problems with corrupt police before. He on his terms apologied for not being in uniform earlier and for his corrupt colleagues. This was actually a nice guy, he registered us and then chatted a bit. We probably shouldn't have been so rude earlier... but who knows how he would have acted then?

Despite having had nothing to do today, we had a busy day. It was with great joy that we heard a little motorbike approaching. We had not expected our mechanics back so quickly. They had found us two gears! They looked worn, but at least they had teeth. They did not come cheap, but it was not like we had a choice here. It was too late to start fitting them now. Tomorrow...

That evening we paid our daily visit to the mission of the sisters and went to bed early. We wondered when 'our wrowd' would get bored of us when they saw of us in our tent.

Day 30

Our mechanics started working from early in the morning to get the diff mounted again. This gave me plenty of time to think about what went wrong. Why did we break down?

The short answer is: we pushed it too much! But it is no surprise. It is more of a surprise on why this did not happen earlier. We had driven over 80.000km since we left Belgium. Trough Africa and Asia. Fully loaded (almost 4 tons) on some of the roughest roads in the world. We had quite a few things overhauled in Cairo and one thing I had noticed but did not change was a small chip out of the planetary gear. The same gear that was now completely stripped.

The whole ordeal with tipping over and sliding on our sides was not really benificiary for our driveline either. We would be spinning our wheels fast and they would all of a sudden gain full traction again. Repeatedly. This kills drivelines. If we would have been able to drive slowly trough here, this would have made a major difference. Yes a winch and lockers could (!) have saved us a lot of damage. But that is an aftertought. It would be the only 2000km's on our 100.000km trip were they would have come in handy. There is not a single landcruiser who drives around the interior of Congo without a winch by the way. I'd say this is exceptional damage on an exceptional road.
The front diff we just forced by trying to pull ourselves over the big hill. The brakes, batteries, bodywork... collateral damage.
Would another vehicle have done a better job? Maybe... probably not I would think but I honestly do not know. But the Landcruiser 75 is certainly the right choice of car for travelling here. It is the only car the NGO's and missions use. It is the best bet for finding spare parts.

We must have walked about 10 kilometers from where our car was stranded to the 'improved' road. So close!

The seal of diffhouse was badly damaged and could not be used again. The only thing that could be found was silicone sealant for bathroom tiles. That would have to do... we hope!
As soon as the diff is fitted again they wanted to pour the oil back in. This was the same new zambian oil we had already used, but now with hundres of little pieces of metal and a fair amount of dust. I did not want that in my axle! No problem according to our mechanics and they set out to buy oil in town. They came back with Monograde SAE-90 oil. In the fineprint it specifically said "not for use in motorized vehicles!". This was the best we could find and it was more expensive per liter then fully synthetic in Europe. We would use it and change it as soon as we found better oil.

We did a test ride and it worked ok now. We still had no drive on the front axle, but the road from here was supposed to be good enough not to need it.

Tomorrow we would try to get to Kikwit!
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  #168  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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Day 31

We looked at our crowd when we got out of our tent. We certainly wouldn't miss them! We paid our dues to the mechanics and the housekeeper of the mission and set out to find Mr Shindani to say goodbye.

The mechanics, they didn't lie when they said it would a team. They might not have been real car mechanics, but combined they had all the knowledge required.



Very carefully we started our journey on the maintained dirt track to Kikwit, 270kilometer from here. We could not remember when we last covered such a distance in a day!

We passed trough Kapia, the village were had tried to make a phonecall. We stopped at the people we had met there earlier to thank them and give them an update on our situation. The sky was clear, so the phone reception was better now and everybody was making use of this to make their calls on the 'GSM hill'



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  #169  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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The road was maintained by CTB. Belgian govermental aid. Like the 'mistery' roads we came across earlier, these roads are mostly handmade. The reasoning is to give as many people as possible an opportunity to have a job. But the CTB had been clever enough to use a few machines to compress the earth so the roads would not be destroyed instantly. At times it was still a bit rough, but compared to what have been trough it was truly heaven.



We stopped from time to time to check our rear axles. It was already leaking pretty badly. That kitchen silicone sealant does not really work. Our hearts skipped a beat when we got our front axle stuck on a middelmannetjie. This meant we had to 'force' ourselves out of there. I really did not want to break down here again. Stressfull moments!

We briefly stopped in Idiofa, a bustling town, to fill up on diesel. The fuel light had come on. The first time since we left Lubumbashi. The only diesel we found came out of a dirty bucket. We apologied to our Landcruiser and bought it anyway.

And then we saw something that we hadn't seen in weeks.
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  #170  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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I must admit I don't like asphalt. I enjoy driving on dirt roads. Josephine does not always agree with me regarding that matter. But this time I was properply pleased to see this. It would take the stress out of our rear axle. And it was good to know that our 4th and 5th gear were still there! ;-)

The road is Chinese made. You can recognize the chinese from a distance by the big straw hats they wear. Everywhere in Congo people, especially kids, would shout "Chinois" (Chinese in French) to us. For many Congolese everybody who is not black is "Chinois". That is due to the large community of Chinese living in Congo.

The relationship between China and Congo is worrying to say the least. I will not bore you to death with the details, but if you are interested, do a google search on the deals regarding the mining concessions and you will find plenty to read.
In short: China has lend Congo many billions for rebuilding their infrastructure. Almost all infrastructure works are then outsourced to.. Chinese companies. The chinese companies bring their own - underpaid - workforce and provide little to no employment to the local population. In return for the loan China gets huge mining concessions. Astronomical 'signature fees' were appointed to the officials who signed the contracts ofcourse. The whole deal is immensly beneficial for the Chinese, but the question is what is in it for the Congolese?
And what happens when the 5 billion is spent? They'll have a few nice roads and bridges. But what about maintenance of this infrastructure?

After a few police checks (no more talks about the permit here... ) we arrive din Kikwit. So many people on the street! Such a big city! We got lost a few times but eventually arrived in the mission of the Frère Oblats (Oblates). A very energetic Congolese, Frère Jean-Marie welcomes us. We had also hoped to meet Frère Léon, a belgian missionary, but unfortunately he was in Kinshasa. The mission has Internet access (via satelite, only a few hours a day) and a guest house where we set up our camp.

When the darkness fell it was striking how little light we could see in this big city. Kikwit has an estimated population in excess of 300.000 people. But there is no electricity. The rich can afford to run a generator for a few hours a day, the rest has to make do with candles, oil lamps or nothing at all.
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  #171  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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Progress after 31 days since we left Lubumbashi. 36 days since we entered Congo
Kikwit

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Last edited by 2cvfred; 10 Nov 2010 at 22:48. Reason: correction in map
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  #172  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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Thank You

I have just spent about 5 hours reading your entire trip report to date. You tell it absolutely wonderfully and the pictures are great. I'm looking forward to reading more. So many echos of Tim Butcher's "Blood River" in your story. Congratulations on your fantastic adventure.
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  #173  
Old 11 Nov 2010
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This has been riveting. I have been following your thread on here and on Expedition Portal. Wonderful stuff! Thanks for sharing. I think my favorite part has been the "and we tipped over, and again, and again, and again" Cracked me up when you said that your idea of getting through it likely would not appear in any 4x4 magazines!

Well thanks again for sharing, it has been very pleasurable to read.

Cheers
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  #174  
Old 11 Nov 2010
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FWIW, troll's posts (and those that bit the hook) removed. Troll banned. Please report offensive material (button on right of post) and a mod will look into it. We are experienced in knowing what sh!t looks like and will delete/ban where necessary.

Keep up this great ride (drive... ) report!

cheers
Chris
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  #175  
Old 11 Nov 2010
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An incredible story. Gripping! Now I MUST do some work. Well done on seeing it through.

cheers,

Paul
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  #176  
Old 11 Nov 2010
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Thanks Chris! And sorry for putting this in the Ride instead of Drive tales. I did not do it intentionally. I prefer it this way anyway, it gets more exposure.

Noel, Paneuropean, I can only agree about the expected lifespan of these roads, you can clearly see the layer of tar on these roads is very thin. Works fine for a while, until the first potholes start appearing. With the kind of climate they have in Congo I don't give these roads 5 years. A very fine example of this can be seen in Gabon. The roud south (or was it north?) of Mitzic is brand new. Half has been built by a European company, the other half by the chinese. Where the roads join, you can clearly see that the Chinese top layer asphalt is half of the european built road. Only time will tell ofcourse.

One could reason that a bad road is better then no road. But in this case I am not really convinced.

BTW, paneuropean, I think your job would be my dreamjob!
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  #177  
Old 11 Nov 2010
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Epic Journey through Africa

I have been thourougly enjoying following this trip report.

Keep it coming.
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  #178  
Old 14 Nov 2010
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Yours is a great story - please keep it up.
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Last edited by chris; 14 Nov 2010 at 21:55. Reason: Keeping it on topic
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  #179  
Old 15 Nov 2010
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Great story, please keep it coming
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  #180  
Old 16 Nov 2010
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Fred,

What's taking you from continuing your story! You are keeping everybody waiting mate! This is not yet the end, is it?

cheers,
noel

Last edited by chris; 16 Nov 2010 at 21:27. Reason: off topic stuff removed/moved
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