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Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey. - Pat Conroy

8 July 2019, Massabi, Angola to Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, 43.4km
Residencia Bouali 20,000CFA (R488)


Exchange rate: Rand 1 (R): Central African Franc 41,09 (CFA)
The Central African Franc, pegged to the Euro, is used in six independent countries: Republic of Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea


On a plain sheet of paper coloured green, the young Congolese policeman wrote details from our passports and Congo visas. It took him a long time to decipher our documents, assisted now and then by a superior, slightly torn between his mentor role and his mild impatience. The policeman’s writing arced down the page to a spot on the right hand edge far south of where he started on the left. An earlier official had also taken our details on the Congolese side of the border, and one official, a young woman, on the Angolan side before them entered our details by hand in a large log book. But essentially the crossing was pain-free, particularly as we somehow managed to avoid customs altogether and were not, therefore, delayed by a search of our luggage.
Our hospedaria host let us out the back gate this morning, asking us again not to mention that we had spent the night in Massabi, his anxiety not clearly understood by us, but obvious. Of course, no-one at the border crossing showed the least interest in where we had slept.
We were ten minutes early for the 08:00 opening of the gate, waiting there with others, mainly pedestrians. Once inside the gate, we were approached by money changers wanting Kwanzas for Central African Francs (CFAs). Initial confusion over the Congolese Franc (no longer in use, but on which we had made our rate calculations) and the Central African Franc (CFA), made the exchange stressful, but the young man with whom we dealt was patient with us and in the end changed the 7,500Kz we had left, so we entered Congo with the comfort of local currency in our pocket. Some of this we soon spent on delicious omelettes in fresh baguettes, making the mistake of ordering two, when in fact one was big enough for both of us. We ate the second for a very late lunch once we had finally found a place to sleep in Pointe Noire.
The Congolese seem slightly more reticent than the Angolans, their greetings, “bonjour” rather than “bom dia”, more constrained. More people seem to speak English than in Angola. Collective taxis are coloured blue and yellow, car taxis blue and white. Nzassi, just north of the border, was busy with enterprising individuals and businesses offering food and drinks and clothing and…
The road we travelled to Pointe Noire was narrow with a rougher surface than that to which we have in general been accustomed in Angola. And in truth, though it seemed rural, we were seldom out of sight of a homestead or village. A short section of the road was lined with bamboo, behind which was water and papyrus. Bamboo and papyrus! How wonderful.
The outskirts of Pointe Noire were soon reached, and here the road, of course, grew busy. Sand drifts on the road edge exacerbated the narrowness, forcing us to cycle part way into the road, meaning that quite often we delayed the progress of those behind us. Some sections were pretty tense as we tried to determine whether the drivers here are as unaggressive as they are in Angola - luckily they seem to be, though we thought some drove too fast for the prevailing conditions.
Once in the city centre, our first job was to find an ATM from which to draw cash on our credit cards. On the road, we operate a “cash economy”, drawing local currency from ATMs and paying for everything in cash. Two banks would not accept our (Master)cards; a third ATM would, but was out of cash. We noted the name on the “friendly” ATM, and made our way to a bank of the same name, Credit du Congo, where we were delighted to find that one can draw large amounts of cash in one go. In Angola, we spent a small fortune on bank charges as we were severely restricted in the amount we could draw and had to draw many times, therefore, to get what we needed.
Then to MTN to purchase local SIMs for our mobile phones, and data so we can connect with family and friends. It was a very long wait, but at least we were connected immediately, without the 24-hour delay we were subjected to in Angola.
The first hotel we priced wanted an astonishing 84,000CFA (R2,100); the second 75,000CFA (R1,800) -these oil-rich cities charge big bucks. Luckily the chap at our second attempt, when he understood we were on a budget, made a call unsolicited, and directed us to the Bouali, not far away and beside the railway line, where he said the owner was willing to negotiate a lower price for us. We have no idea what the usual rate is here, and although the 20,000CFA charged is considerably over our preferred accommodation budget, we sure have gotten great value for money. We are within walking distance of the main street through the city centre, a couple of blocks from a good supermarket, have aircon, a mosquito net over the bed, and a very fancy shower with, rarity of rarities, hot water.
We decided on Chinese for dinner and walked to the Hong Kong restaurant, pricey, but really nice for a change.

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

Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Leaving Massabi, Angola
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Massabi to Pointe Noire
Pointe Noire
Pointe Noire
Pointe Noire
Pointe Noire
Pointe Noire
Pointe Noire