Today we want to send our best regards to fellow “Travel Bugs” around the world!
Last night a car accident happened right in front of Herbie and the camper QEK. Luckily we spent this night at the apartment of Tony and his friend Pedro.
However, also the Love Bug and the caravan have been untroubled by the car crash. Today we asked, if there is a safer place for our two travel companions.
Fortunately we were able to park our Travel Bug and the trailer in the backyard of our friend’s flat. Now they are safe! And very soon they’ll be continuing their trip!
As the shipping procedure takes a little longer, we are so glad that Pedro and Tony are offering us and our vehicles such a great accommodation here in Cabinda.
We tried to get visas for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) twice – in Rabat, Morocco, and Yaoundé, Cameroon. Both times, the embassies declined our applications. Of course we could have tried it another time in Brazzaville, Congo, but we’ve chosen a completely different path down south.
As we’ve been reading about many bad experiences concerning the DRC as well as the ferry boat crossing the Congo River from Brazzaville to Kinshasa, we decided to bypass this part of Africa and headed towards the coast. We entered Angola’s exclave, Cabinda, in order to take a ship directly to Luanda.
Antonio “Tony” Diaz is not only our generous host here in Cabinda, he became a good friend of ours and also a passionate supporter of Herbie’s World Tour. As an Angolan native, Tony speaks fluently Portuguese, which helps a lot.
Tony strongly believes that Angola should profit from tourism, just as countries like South Africa or Botswana – instead it is very hard to obtain a tourist visa these days.
Herbie and his companion QEK are still parked in front of Antonio’s flat, where we’re spending the nights, when the traffic is not as bad anymore.
Unfortunately we’ve just missed a boat leaving for Luanda. The local port authorities told us that we weren’t supposed to go on that vessel. So, we have to wait.
The departure of another ship is scheduled for the beginning of next week. Hopefully it will be worthy that we’ve taken this route instead of the hassle traveling through the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo).
As we were driving into Angola the day before yesterday, a guy wanted to overtake us with his truck. But when he saw Herbie towing the camper, he pulled back following us up to the next police check point, where he got the chance to talk to us.
His name is Antonio Diaz and it turned out that he lives in Cabinda, from where we are planning to take a ship to Luanda. Antonio, aka “Tony”, is originally from a small village called Lutete, nearby Cacuso in Malanje. His ancestors are from Portugal.
Tony’s helping us in dealing with the the whole shipping procedure and also offered us his warm hospitality. Herbie and the camper are parking just in front of his apartment in downtown Cabinda, in which we’re hanging out with Tony during the day.
Due to those bad roads in Congo and Cameroon, we still had to get some things done on Herbie and the camper just as welding broken parts, flushing the gear fluid and getting rid of all the muddy water. However, Herbie’s back on track exploring Africa and we’ve just left Congo by crossing the border to Angola’s exclave, Cabinda.
Originally we were planning to travel through the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire) by crossing the Congo River from Brazzaville to Kinshasa, but we got another idea: Entering Angola’s exclave, Cabinda, and trying to find a boat shipping Herbie, the camper and us directly to Luanda, Angola’s capital.
The impossible became possible! Domi was able to get Herbie back to life. Although there is still water in the interior parts of the chassis and body, the most important thing is that Herbie’s back on the “road” (earth track) again.
Today we made it all the way to Dolisie, Congo, where we’re spending the night. Tomorrow we’ll do further repairs on Herbie, before we’ll be heading towards Brazzaville – our final destination within the Republic of the Congo.
The consequences of Herbie floating in the water were fatal! “Rien ne va plus!” – Nothing worked anymore! Needless to mention that there is no mechanic you can rely on, in the middle of Congo’s jungle.
We had to keep a cool head! Domi dedicated a whole day of work to repair the most important damages such as flushing the motor oil which included almost a quart of water, dismantling and cleaning out the mud of the starter as well as changing spark plugs, distributor cap and rotor.
During the work we had an audience of the local people who were sitting just in front of us and watching this exciting event like an amusing “television program”.
The only connecting route between Gabon and the Republic of Congo is just an earth track with countless mud holes filled with more than knee-high water due to the current rain season (in Congo). Domi attached snow chains on Herbie’s rear wheels and then we had to willy-nilly rise to this frightening challenge.
Before every “mud hole”, we had to find out where the shallowest part of the water was. We were glad that Herbie won the battle against all these gigantic ponds on a stretch of 140 miles (230 km) – except the last one, which was the result of our own miscalculation as we chose the wrong path through the water. It all went so quickly and suddenly Herbie was floating in the water.
The water level went up above the seats. We had to carry our most important belongings to a dry place and luckily after a while some men came to help pushing Herbie and the camper onshore again. Out of question, these were horrible moments we were going through, not knowing what the consequences would be…
In Gabon we crossed the Equator once again on Herbie’s World Tour. To capture this moment, we stopped in front of the sign and took some photos. At this point, we’d like to say regards to Mick from “Mick Motors” in Australia.