Across The DRC Day 2
In the morning we are up and moving before the heat of the day, and before our curious neighbors can return to resume their endless staring.
Immediately the “highway” picks up where it left off – occasionally a decent gravel road, occasionally a series of washouts to be navigated and occasionally a mud pit stretching for hundreds of yards. Thankfully none of the water crossings are seriously deep, and there are even some concrete ditches in places to help limit the water flow.
We pass through more and more tiny villages, all with eagerly waiving kids, and very clean surrounds. One village lies on a junction where the road branches South to the river, and I assumed it would be large enough to have some kind of store – I could not have been more wrong. Though marked as “bigger” on my GPS, the tiny town is nothing more than 10-15 mud houses on either side of the road. There is no store here.
The sun beats down and progress is slow, and so we move along at the only speed the road will permit – crawling. Late in the afternoon I am encouraged to see a truck on the side of the road – I take that to mean the road from here is passable, and if there are any bridges they can support our weight.
Storm clouds gather all afternoon, and a few spots of rain are beginning to fall when we find a pickup truck stuck in a mud pit. The road is narrow here, and so our path is blocked. Evidently a bunch of people were riding in the back, and they are all eager to get underway. The truck works fine, though it does not have a starter and the driver stalled in the mud. Unable to get around, we decide to winch the pickup backwards, squeeze past and then pull start it on the dry road beyond.
Watching the men dive into the mud to attach the winch line is impressive, and all the while motorbikes and foot traffic continue to squeeze by, everyone attempting to stay dry. The pickup driver and all the passengers are extremely thankful, with many handshakes all round. As they tear off into the next mud put, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be until we run into them again.
It took a long time messing around with the winch, and so we immediately start to search for a place to camp. Eventually we spot a couple of buildings on the side of the road, and they turn out to be the perfect place to pull in behind, out of sight of the road.
Just as I finish cooking dinner the skies open for another torrential downpour that continues long into the night. Multiple times I am woken by extremely heavy rain, lightning and thunder.
In the morning my suspicions about our campsite are confirmed when a bunch of school children arrive and commence staring. A friendly school teacher is happy to welcome us and assures me repeatedly we are welcome and it really is no problem.
DRC is really different. Great. And different.