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The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines - Charles Kuralt

27 May 2019, Catengue to Benguela, 78,8km
VG Residential 6,000Kz (R268)


It is annoying that our malaria capsules on occasion make Charl nauseous; today was particularly bad for him. Such a pity as it was a spectacular ride to Benguela, barring the last few kms.
We were up early, as were the police. We packed, made ourselves a cup of coffee to have with bananas and biscuits, shopped for water (not cold, unfortunately), and hit the road.
So here’s the thing… Baobabs grow like weeds in this area. Even though they are of a smaller variety, or perhaps just considerably younger, than those seen earlier in our sojourn in Angola, they still stand out above the bushes and trees between which they grow. Unlike most of the other trees, which still sport green leaves, the baobabs have lost theirs. Their gawky bare branches and pendulous seed pods are etched against the sky or against mountains, seemingly flat as cardboard cutouts due to distance and light. We saw so many ’babs in the first half of our day that we began to joke about them becoming a bore. Such an amazing privilege…
Unusually today, perhaps because we could and because Charl needed to rest more, we ate two meals on the road. The first was spaghetti with a tasty meat sauce prepared at an unexpectedly well-run and attractive roadside restaurant, literally in the middle of nowhere; the other a delicious and filling bean soup on the outskirts of Benguela.
We climbed and dipped as we have done for several days, then had an amazing downhill run to yet another pink-painted school, then we had to climb a small range of mountains to cell towers on a ridge. After that the flora changed and our baobabs disappeared. Just grass and bush, and later still, more grass and less bush as we dropped to the Atlantic. Our road hit the coast some kms south of Benguela, then travelled north to the city.
On the roadside people selling charcoal as usual, but also carved wood stools, and washing boards, and mortars and pestles.
We had not arranged accommodation, nor done any research, so pottered around for awhile until we settled on the VG Residential where we have an unexpectedly large suite - bedroom, bathroom, lounge / dining area and kitchenette of sorts - at a very reasonable price. They also have a laundry service and the local autocycle taxi rank is just metres away.
Since leaving Lubango we have been surprised to find fewer and fewer distance markers and boards along the road; these were prevalent between Santa Clara on the border and Lubango. Today, there was not one marker, not one board. Without our Garmin, we are therefore travelling in the dark, effectively, not having a clue how far we have cycled and how far we still have to go. We tried on occasion to check on Google Maps, but perhaps Angola is not well-documented or cell tower connectivity not powerful enough, as we did not once manage to ascertain the distance between “Your location” and “Benguela”. In some ways this can be liberating, but with Charl not feeling well, it was hard to stay motivated.

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

Catengue
Catengue
Catengue
Catengue
Catengue
Catengue
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela - soft drink stop
Catengue to Benguela - soft drink stop
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela - lunch stop
Catengue to Benguela - lunch stop
Catengue to Benguela
Catengue to Benguela
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