Across The DRC Day 1
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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
From the second we move away the border, the road is barely a road. It’s really more of a walking / motorbike track. The track is so overgrown I am scraping through brush on both sides, and almost tear off a front fender when I hit an unseen log. Trying to find a better way, I soon put the Jeep in a ditch, and continue to struggle to find something that resembles the right way.
We are so unsure we drive around in circles for a while, and I get out and walk down numerous paths, trying to find the biggest one, or the one that maybe goes somewhere. In another tiny village I tape and zip tie the fender back on, and a young boy jumps in for the ride. He absolutely assures me this is the correct path down to the main road, and so we bump along.
I eventually ask him more than ten times if this is the right way, and every time he says yes. The path is so small and so overgrown I struggle to see how anyone has driven a 4×4 here in years, and the single-track down the middle confirms most traffic is motorbike. At times we drive right through the middle of little villages – all wide open and airy and immaculately clean.
After many hours of bumping along this tiny track, we finally come out in a slightly bigger town, apparently on the main East/West Road. Almost instantly a crowd of children run out and surround the Jeep, jumping up and and down and cheering excitedly.
Again, there is no trash at all, and everyone is smiling from ear to ear.
The main road is certainly more of a road, though because it gets at least some traffic the mud pits are now deeper and even more churned up. Progress is extremely slow, and the sun continues to beat down long into the afternoon. After many hours, we still have not seen another vehicle in The DRC.
We find a small side branch, and decide to camp a couple of hundred yards along it. Within ten minutes children materialize from nowhere and begin their staring ritual. Soon adults join in, and none of them stop staring until it is pitch black. Even when I try to satisfy their curiosity by prompting, and then answering their questions, they have no intention of leaving.
After a beautiful sunset of boiling clouds, it is still staggeringly hot and humid when I lie down and attempt to sleep.