Matadi and Stan's Health

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We finally made the border crossing in a record time of 1hr45min, and entered the DRC at Matadi with trepidation. Other than slow motion officials, we had no problems at the border with the officials. Great was our surprise to see the amazing Congo river and low and behold……for the first time since before Angola, a huge BRIDGE !!!!,  and an amazing one to boot.

 PLEASE can someone teach the Angolans to do this

The most amazing thing was that we both felt completely at ease and relaxed for the first time in a while. We realized that we were never really at ease in Angola (I think due to the bad roads and never knowing whether you will get to your destination) and here, the last place we expected to feel good in, we felt at home! We quickly changed a few dollars to DRC Francs, and off we went after filling up Stan only to realize pretty soon that something is seriously wrong with Stan.

 Welcome to DRC!How is it possible he is still going and Stan not?

Somehow we learned to adopt the attitude that we are imagining things if it could be bad, as what can be a worse nightmare than your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere in a country that you only heard bad things about. But as Joleen said, we live on an Ubuntu continent and once again the angel of mercy smiled upon us. We had turned around by now, but 22kms short of Matadi, Stan finally refused to even move as there were neither gears nor a clutch. Needless to say, we got a bit concerned but the angels were there and I flagged down the first car that I saw. Mercifully the driver could understand a bit of English and he made a call. He then, in sign language, explained that we should just wait and gave Stew the number that he phoned. After about 1 hr we weren’t sure whether we got it right and Stew phoned the number only to be told by “Henri” that the car is on its way.

 All the broken partsThe conventMother                                                                                                                                                                                             Superior

We could not believe our eyes when a carload full of guys arrived, jumped out of the car, got the tools out and started inspecting Stan. The language is a problem but we finally agreed that Stan needed to be towed to Matadi, the nearest town. At that stage we had no idea what was happening, but as we had no choice, went with them. They towed us to a place that looked like a hostel and still we had no idea where we were and what was happening. Turned out that this place was a convent and they were prepared to put us up for US$20 per night in a tiny little room with a single bed, which at that stage felt like a palace.   We met   a large group of fellow travelers at the Convent, on their way down to SA from Ghana, and we were able to swap a few notes before they left the next morning.

 A cleaner stan at the workshop ..well have to keep busy whilst waiting for 3 days !!!

The guys then promptly started taking Stan apart and all we could do was to stand and watch as communication is non existent. After at least 5 hours, in the dark, they decided to call it a day and with a smile indicated that they will be back in the morning. We were once again blown away by the openhearted kindness shown by these people. They had no idea who we are, they do not even know if we have any money, they cannot understand our language, but yet they slogged away till dark to try and get to the problem on the car. Just blows your mind.

 

We were so sad to hear on the same day about the recent horrible attacks on foreigners and refugees in SA. How sad is that, we have only experienced kindness everywhere and then we hear about the bad way our countrymen treat strangers.

 Kingsley Wannabe!!!!!  The new look Stew YEAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

The next morning they found the problem once everything was taken apart and it turned out that the part would have to be ordered from Kinshasa. The whole process thus far has been based on trust , so we handed over the dollars and now we are waiting to see what will happen. We do know it sounds crazy, but in a situation like this, there is nothing else to do. Thank you to all of you for all the sms’s the messages and invitation to stay with you if we have to go back. We were once again reminded that we have the best friends and family in the whole wide world and there are no words to convey how much we miss and love you all.

 It is now Saturday afternoon 5.30 and unfortunately NO NEWS ! Watch this space