Entering the country was a piece of cake. The letter we were supposed to hand over at the border crossing was unexpected as nobody knew what to do with it. This proves again that communication is pretty much non-existent between the consulates that represent the countries and the borders of these countries. Good to know that you paid 200 dollars per person for this service. It didn’t cause any problems so it didn’t bother us.
Arriving in the state capitol Cabinda we were stunned by the money in the air. It was like being back in Stavanger, Norway where every building on the block is built by oil money. It was already dark for a few hours but we had read before about a catholic mission that provides a place to sleep for overlanders. We were determined to find this place, as the other cheapest option would be a few hundred dollars a night. We found the place through GPS coordinates but that was basically the only sign on the whole compound that gave us the idea to ask around. Trying to ask a group of boys didn’t get us very far as they only spoke Portuguese which, after trying to get all the French going, we didn’t spend a minute learning. We parked at the back of the place and eventually the pastor showed up, giving us the warmest welcome we have had in a long time. We could stay as long as we wanted and no money was accepted, great place and people.
Just a bit further down the main highway, taking the turnoff towards the Luvo border, we were soon stopped again by another toll gate. This time it was 100 dollars, just to drive 13 km to the border! After some negotiating and telling them we didn’t have any local currency anymore, they actually let us go through without paying! Nice! Arriving at what we thought was the entrance of the border, was a giant market full of people, trucks and busses. The path heading to the border gate was made so narrow by all the market stalls, it was reduced to a one way lane. We entered the line of cars and trucks soon to find out that it didn’t move at all. One hour later we were still standing at the same spot and the sun started burning down on us. Our temperature gauge in the car started turning black indicating it was hotter than 55C. I decided to get out of the car and have a look around, finding out that there is another path running at the side of the market. I also found out the problem of why the line wasn’t moving, two trucks were standing head to head and both were not going to move an inch. We decided to turn the car around (driving over a few market stands and slowly pushing stubborn people away) and slowly move one car at a time to get out of this puzzle. One hour later, we had moved 50 meters but enough to make it out and take the other route. This lead to another gate, and the guard which I negotiated our special entrance with, had left and now we were standing at a closed unmanned gate. Trying to find somebody to open the gate, it appeared that it was impossible to come through here because that would be illegal. No way were going back into that line again. Luckily the first guard showed up again soon after and opened the gate for us without arguing. Immigration was easy as we entered the special way now. Everyone was happy to see a couple of white tourists.
Finding customs was a bit of a pain as every kept pointing down a mud track covered with trucks and market stalls everywhere. To be sure we asked a few police officers on the road, but as we walk up to the officers rob a person of his wallet and take all the money out. Right in front of us. Surprisingly they were happy to help us though, pointing in the same direction as the others. We start driving that way and end up manoeuvring around all the people, stalls and unloading trucks. Dealing with the conflicts every time somebody is coming from the other direction in the 55+ C heat, this started to be very exhausting. We soon end up on an endless line of trucks slowly moving ahead. People pushing the car and a guy even randomly slapped me in the face while walking by. This day started to get really exhausting and the end didn’t look even near.
Still in the market 5 kilometre later shuffling along in a line of trucks and carts, we arrive at the customs post. It took us an hour here talking to random people and officers all over the place before they finally stamped our carnet for the car, it seemed like it was their first time. Now it was finally time to leave the country and enter Angola mainland. We saw only a small piece of the DRC but we were definitely not treated nice in this time. Luckily we had received the Angolan visas and avoided driving even further into the country.
Entering Angola was a very annoying experience as getting our carnet stamped to enter the country was very time consuming. We had waited from one in the afternoon until four (lunchtime) before they took our carnet through a little hole in an air-conditioned room. It had started raining very bad in the meantime and we were cramped in a little room with 15 other people stay dry. All the other people got helped before us, even though they came in much later with the reason that our process was much more difficult. By the time it started getting dark they looked at the carnet and stamped it. We had been standing in this little damp room 5 hours just for a stamp. It was dark, we were exhausted, very hungry and finding an affordable place to sleep was going to be a nightmare.
The worst part was, after we left the customs building, somebody asked us why we were so stupid to cross the border in the weekend when the weekend markets block all the roads?
Welcome to Angola.