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Ω2

Congo: What a politeness!

   There are two countries sharing the word “Congo” in their name, sharing borders at the same time. The first one is the Republic of the Congo (RC, the former French Congo), usually called “Congo” or “Congo-Brazzaville”, due to the name of its capital city. The second one is also the largest one, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC in English and RDC in French, the former Belgian Congo or Zaire), which is also known as “Congo-Kinshasa”, also due to the name of its capital city. So, the small Congo was first on the list.

   Having studied the maps on our GPS, we noted all the remote dirt tracks in Cameroon leading to the border with Congo. There are just a few trucks crossing from there, as the roads are rough, especially when being in the middle of the rainy season. We saw a truck with the one side completely sunken inside some treacherous thick mud, with the truck being on the edge of tipping over! When something like this happens, the rest of the trucks have to sit there and wait for days until they manage to free the first truck. Usually the dirt track is quite narrow and the vegetation around it so thick that the other trucks have no other choice but to wait. Happily, there is usually enough space for our motorcycles to go through.

Riding through the isolated and stunning jungle, on the way to the border with Congo.

Riding through the isolated and stunning jungle, on the way to the border with Congo.

   Some friendly border officers stamped our documents, sponsored by ELPA, and they even suggested us to camp there, as it was already dark. It was very amusing to listen to Christina negotiating with the custom officers while I was pitching the tent just in front of them! The next day we had rain for breakfast. While I was riding in a somewhat high speed, in fourth gear, suddenly at some corner I saw slippery mud on the road. Without any time to react, I found my motorcycle sliding on the ground and myself sliding behind it! For the first time in my life I realized how it feels like to drop the motorcycle and slide on the road wondering when and where I will end up…

   The motorcycle slid while winding for about ten meters and I ended up behind it. The throttle was stuck and the engine was screaming! I got up immediately and pressed the kill switch. At that time Christina arrived on the spot and together we picked up the motorbike. There was mud thrown even inside my helmet. I was literally spitting it out of my mouth. Luckily, I was not injured or in pain whatsoever. I had been sliding on my butt, while my back had not touched the ground. The left pannier of my motorcycle had got another dent on its bottom edge but that was just about it. It was such a close shave… The only problem was that I was like a pig, covered in mud.

For the first time in my life I realized how it feels like to drop the motorcycle and slide on the road wondering when and where I  will end up...

For the first time in my life I realized how it feels like to drop the motorcycle and slide on the road wondering when and where I will end up…

   In the area around Souanké we found the deep, slippery mud that we expected. Some parts were full of ruts from the trucks we encountered every once in a while abandoned inside the mud. No need to say that we were moving with zero speed, as I had to get off my motorcycle and push Christina’s that didn’t have enough traction, even though we had reduced the pressure of the tyres. Christina dropped her motorbike five times those days and I dropped mine five times as well, while it took us three hours to cross those 30 km (19 miles) of deep mud.

One of the five falls I had those days..

One of the five falls I had those days…

   What impressed us the most was that whenever there were people close by, they would dip bare-feet inside the mud in order to help us. They didn’t even ask us anything in return! There we found also one local stuck in mud with his Chinese motorbike. I had to run from Christina’s motorcycle to the motorcycle of the friendly Congolese and help by pushing.

A lot of mud!

A lot of mud!

   The biggest part of the road to Ouesso was a graded dirt road, which was not so slippery and we could ride more comfortably. When the rain stopped, we really enjoyed a part of the lush jungle, riding through an amazing route where we were face-to-face with a big, colourful, tropical bird!

While enjoying a beautiful route inside the jungle, we were face-to-face with this awesome tropical bird!

While enjoying a beautiful route inside the jungle, we were face-to-face with this awesome tropical bird!

   On the third day we arrived in Ouesso, the northernmost town in Congo, situated on a scenic part of the bank of Sangha River. From there we headed south. In some places there was well-graded dirt road waiting for the tar and in other the Chinese workers had already laid the blacktop. In the town of Makoua we crossed the Equator! There was no sign informing us about that as no tourists ever go there. I was looking at the coordinates on the GPS and there was a moment when the latitude turned zero!

We are crossing the Equator! The latitude turned zero on the GPS!

We are crossing the Equator! The latitude turned zero on the GPS!

   To us, the Equator was more than a line on the map. The most important was that it marked our escape from the rainy season that had already begun in the African countries north of the Equator and it had been quite annoying for the last two months. South of the Equator it is time for the dry season to begin, the one that we had missed so much… We could not imagine, however, how radical the change of the weather would be. Before crossing the Equator it was raining everyday, while we haven’t seen a single drop from the moment we crossed it! No need to say, of course, that from the first minute we loved the southern hemisphere 😉

We are on the Equator! Christina's motorcycle is on the northern hemisphere, while mine is on the southern one!

We are on the Equator! Christina’s motorcycle is on the northern hemisphere, while mine is on the southern one!

   Covering daily around 350 km (217 miles) on boring tarred roads, we headed to the capital of Congo. We were really surprised to find friendly police officers in this country. Nobody even implied anything about a bribe! This does not mean, of course, that they don’t demand some bribing from the locals. The locals in these countries never get away without paying something to the authorities.

Atelier squeezed in between the dirt tracks of Brazzaville.

Atelier squeezed in between the dirt tracks of Brazzaville.

   In Brazzaville we were hosted by Chantal, a French teacher who leaves there. At the French Institute of the city we had the chance to attend a concert of Fredy Massamba, a famous Congolese singer. The locals inside the amphitheatre were dancing while applauding and cheering! That’s how every musical performance ends in Africa, no matter if it takes place in the middle of the street or in some music hall.

The map of Africa, made out of portraits of the dictators who ruled or are currently ruling its countries.

The map of Africa, made out of portraits of the dictators who ruled or are currently ruling its countries.

   We were surprised to find out that Congo is really misunderstood because of its neighboring country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Very few travelers visit these countries and there is not enough information around. We thought the picture would be the same in both Congos but we realized that even a white woman can wander around Brazzaville alone at night without being threatened. We expected to find corrupted officers and aggressive people but instead we met friendly policemen and people with a politeness that we had longed for so much…

 

Here you can watch the video about our adventure in Congo:

Soundtracks (music from Congo):
Fredy Massamba – Sanzasonyk
Fredy Massamba – Ntoto
Jehf Biyeri – Munsinsa (Instrumental)
Lang’i – La Riviere
Lang’i – Butaneno

 

Παρουσιάσεις

Κοζάνη
Σάββατο
30 Νοεμβρίου 2019, 20:00
Όμιλος Δικυκλιστών Κοζάνης
1ο χλμ Κοζάνης - Κρόκου

Kozani

 

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