Lubango to Benguela via Chongoroi

in

It appeared we were a bit premature  in hoping to set off early this morning, as  a thorough inspection of Stanruza’s  suspension not only showed that the airbags in the back springs were no longer of any use, but one of the back shocks had snapped off at the bolt. Thanks to Truter’s contacts, we managed to track down 2 new shocks, and we spent the morning fitting them. So much for expensive Old Man Emu shocks, they lasted all of 2 ½ months!

One of the best roads we have seen in Angola, and they are preserving the tree!!

So we left Lubango eventually at 1 pm, with estimates of time to Benguela from 4-6 hours.  The first part of the road was quite good, other than detours for non-existent bridges at every river. But the road soon deteriorated, with the worst combination of potholed tar and rutted dirt testing Stanruza’s new shocks to the full.  We soon realized we would not make Benguela that  night, even though the road gradually improved, with signs of reconstruction everywhere. At about 5pm we reached the small town of Chongoroi, and low and behold spotted a hotel. But we were appalled to be told a room cost R1050, so instead decided to bushcamp just outside town.  On the way out, however, we  remembered that Rob and Allie  (thanks guys!) had often asked the church for  shelter, and  so we drove into the local church grounds, located the Father, and asked if we could camp there for the night.

Our campsiteFather KapingalaStew in the human zoo !

Father Jacob Alberto Kapingala took us to his Mission, where we set up camp under the watchful eyes of about 20 locals, the oldest of which was about 10 years’ old. I am sure they have never seen a rooftop tent before, nor our rudimentary ablutions and meal in the gathering gloom. Despite their parents efforts to get them away , they persisted and we finally felt what it would feel like to  stay in a zoo! They only gave up when we decided to just sit there and not move or talk.

 

We went to sleep that night hoping for a good night’s sleep, but it was not to be. At about 1.30am we were woken by a loud conversation in the vicinity of our tent by one of the locals. We listened intently, in case the words were meant for us, as it sounded like only one voice was doing all the talking. It was indeed only one voice, apparently conversing for at least ½ an hour with himself. I subsequently nicknamed him the magic mushroom man, as I think they had a hand in the event! He eventually quietened down, only to start up again at about 4am, for another stint!

 Trying my best to ignore the adorable kids!! An example of sometypical portuguese                                                                                                                                                                                                     style buildings                                                                                                                                 

That morning we had a quick breakfast, and under the watchful eye of the young locals, packed up camp. After awarding the most precocious one of the kids with a bright yellow MTN hat (we already gave them all our sweets the night before) much to the delight of the rest, we completed our trip to Benguela, on a road that improved from km to km, eventually ending on a perfect tar road, newly laid. I’m not sure if we were supposed to drive all the way on it, as for large parts there were alternative roads with “Desvio”  (= “detour”) signs all over the place, but as we cannot read Portuguese we ignored them, and made good time to Benguela.