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I heard an airplane passing overhead. I wished I was on it. - Charles Bukowski

26 May 2019, Chongoroi to Catengue, 67,8km
“Camp” at police station 0Kz (R0)


While we took our afternoon nap in the dining room at the Catengue police station, two prisoners were brought in and we awoke to find them being questioned in the courtyard, seated with naked torsos on the gravel surrounded by cops in chairs. Later they were locked into a holding cell beside the dining room; a room with two bunk beds, free of mattresses, and a squat loo. Afterwards, a single policeman questioned a woman for an extended period, taking handwritten notes. We assumed she was a victim or witness.
Two different people had suggested we approach the police in Catengue for accommodation: our Quilengues host, and our Chongeroi host. When we arrived in town, we asked a man on an autocycle who had greeted us if there was a pensão in town. He did not seem optimistic and as we were standing opposite the police station, we decided to take a chance and chat to them. As we approached the station, a young man came out to greet us and immediately suggested we camp in the grounds between the offices and the living/eating quarters. When he confirmed there was a “banjo” (bathroom), we agreed to stay, and were grateful. The young policeman, and the local fireman, checked our passports and made notes in an incident book, and had a discussion with colleagues on the phone, who later came to check us out. And also told Charl we could get food in town and walked with him to a local shop where Charl found soft drinks and water biscuits, but not much else. Luckily we still had fuel for our stove, pasta and a tin of soup for a super-easy and filling meal which we prepared after bucket-bathing with water drawn from an on-site well and napping. In the end, we slept on our mattresses in the dining room, not bothering with the tent, and were relatively comfortable and completely safe.
Today was defined by baobabs in their thousands, set in quintessential African bush with thorn trees and sisal. A smaller variety, or younger, dotted between thorn bushes and spread across hillsides, and shading villages and homesteads, and lining the roadside. An extraordinary sight.
Mostly the roads on which we have travelled have been in good condition, but when Angolans do potholes, they do them with gusto. Some potholes are of common-or-garden size, but with ragged edges 20cm deep. Hit that wrong on a bicycle and you can shred a tyre or catapult over your handlebars. Some bigger versions of these had been filled with loose boulders. Hit that wrong on a bicycle and your handlebars can be wrenched from your hands. The bigger potholes, essentially a complete disintegration of the road, are easier to manage on a bike if travelling slowly enough as the edges swoop down to the lowest point and up again.
To a large extent we were warned of potholes up ahead by the erratic behaviour of vehicles in both directions. Suddenly a truck up ahead will veer to the wrong side of the road and back again and perhaps back again. A row of vehicles behind the truck will take similar evasive action, so that when you catch sight of them, you see a weaving of trucks and cars and bikes. On the uphills, when travelling slowly, the potholes were no real threat to us; on the downhills travelling at speed, constant vigilance was essential.
We are disturbed by how often we seem to frighten children, and on occasion, adults. Today, one little girl on the lookout for charcoal customers took one look at me approaching and turned and ran for the safety of the family huts. I called out to her two or three times: “Olá, esta bien” (Hello, it’s OK) and was so pleased to see her halt, then smile, then wave and begin to walk back to her post beside charcoal bags taller than she.
Before leaving Chongeroi, we bought green-coloured oranges at the local market. These proved to have skin almost as tough as the flesh of Angolan chickens, and though orange inside and smelling of oranges, were more lemon-like in flavour. Tart, but still welcome on a long hot ride.

For today's route see below photos
For overview route, click on ROUTE tab above…

Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
Chongeroi to Catengue
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