Not once but twice a beer truck saved my life!!
I knew that all the people were wrong who said that drinking beer is bad for you and will get you nowhere.I've just been involved with 2 beer karma incidents involving the lovely lovely beer trucks.Both involved,would you believe,our truck being pulled out of gigantic bottomless potholes of mud and sh1te with no chance in hell of our good selves digging or sandmatting our way out of there for a very long time.....
Mud glorious mud.Nothing beats travelling through central Africa during the wet season.We were all so confident that we'd get from the border with Cabinda through to the city of Mataudi in no more than 2 days.After all we only had about 140kms to travel.
So after 7 days of crawling our way through puddles the size of swimming pools and trying to traverse roads,using that term very loosely,whcih were virtually impassable this time of year,you could say that all of us were becoming a little bit dissillusioned.
Myself I was farking hating it.The fun had certainly gone out of the trip at this stage.I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any thoughts of leaving the trip and I don't think I was alone in thinking this.There was a few discussions amongst us about this course of action but the actual problem of getting to a place from which to fly out was the main stumbling block.Better to stick with the truck,better the devil you know.
Travelling through this part of D.R Congo was certainly an experience.To say the locals were a friendly bunch is an understatement.I think that most of them were shocked to see white tourists more than anything but none of them had any hesitation in helping us out of our numerous boggings.Although when passing through villages was intersting at times as every kid in that village would proceed to chase after the truck while screaming at the top of their voice.Many more actually jumped on the back of the truck,which wasn't too difficult as we were only travelling at 20kmh at the best of times.This in itself provided problems for us,as there was always the fear of one of them being injured.they did provide some stress relief though,as on numerous occassions someone would get off the truck and scream at them to get the fark off.That and chasing them with a big stick seemed to work pretty well.
Luckily for us,the road we travelled was used by the locals to transport goods,mainly beer,to and from the border with Cabinda.This in itself provided us with the help we needed when on at least 2 occasions we became stuck in potholes that were at least half as deep as the truck.On one occasion we were that badly stuck that there was no chance we would've got out without any assistance.The towing out of the truck was a sight to which this day I still have nightmares.We all got out of the truck,apart from Chris who was driving.The tow ropes were hooked up and the engines were revved.The truck doing the towing,a lovely beer truck,just gunned it.This resulted in our truck almost rolling over.At one stage the front wheels were in the complete wrong direction and there was only one place the truck was going and that was over on its side.Somehow Chris regained control and we were out of the gaping hole.
All of us who watched it couldn't believe what we had just seen.Luckily all us were covered in brown mud otherwise the brown stains on the underpants would've been visible for all to see.
Travelling during the wet season wasn't the best way to go but the nightly thunderstorms did provide some relief from the stifling heat.With no water to wash in and being covered from head to toe in mud,sweat and sh1te we even managed to stand out in the rain and have a wash on occasions.
Rain would set in about 7 o'clock every night and would jsut continue for hours and hours.Most nightswe were lucky to get our cooking out of the way before it came.Sleeping in the tents was another matter though.With the rain cooling things down outside the tents,inside them was unbearable.We had 2 different tents to use.One tent was alot more breathable than the other but leaked water like a sieve whereas the one that didn't leak was an absloute sauna.
To counter this Ken,Deb and I decided one night to put our tents under the big blue tarpaulin which hung off the side of the truck.This allowed us to put up the liner of the tent which in turn allowed the cooling air to flow through.Unfortunately for us we didn't take into account the volume of rain.During the night I had to get up for a toliet run.When I got out of the tent I happened to glance at the tarp.It had pooled the water on top of it to the extent that it was bulging almost to the tops of the tents.
I remarked about this to Deb.She expressed her concern but I said it should be ok as if it did cave in it wouldn't hit our tent.Almost as soon as I said these words the tarp collasped sending hundreds of litres of water flooding into Kens tent which was about 2 metres from ours.
Ken,obviously startled, as you would be if woken from your sleep by a waterfall landing in your tent,stumbled out of his tent and procedd to trip into our tent breaking the poles in the process.
I jumped out to try to help as the tarp had come loose from its poles.So in the p1ssing rain,with thunder and lightning all around us. Ken and I attempted to put the tarp back up.Now this was a real comedy moment.2 naked white blokes, cursing and swearing,getting eaten alive by mosquitos and sh1tting themselves because the lightning was landing very close.Luckily for me the noise that the rain was making cut out the sound of my @rsehole puckering.I was scared sh1tless while holding onto a large metal pole,wondering where the next lightning bolt was going to land.All I could think about was they'd find me,buck naked,covered in mossie bits lying in a pool of mud with my hair standing on end.....
Luckily that never occurred and we managed to secure the tarp and get back to sleep.By this stage all of us had been used to sleeping while soaking wet with all our sleep gear being continously damp from weeks of being rained on during the night.
Luckily for the locals,none of them passed by at that time as I'm sure they wouldn't have believed what they saw.Would've scarred them for life and got them hounded out of their village if they tried to explain the sights that they had witnessed."Honestly I saw 2 naked white men........"
This part of D.R Congo also gave us the experience of being eaten alive by the biggest and most ferocious mossies we had encountered so far.We'd all been used to getting bitten by various beasties up to now and we were all very proficient at covering ourselves in clothing and deet to stop getting bitten.
Camping in a school ground one night,we literally got eaten alive.The mosquito's were the size of small birds.It sounded like a helicopter coming into land when one was flying around you.What amazed me was that they would bite you through your clothing and would even land on areas that had been sprayed with deet and proceed to bite you.It was amazing to be eaten alive by these b@stards,they were relentless.From that night onwards I swore that I'd never use deet again as not only does it burn your skin it doesn't bl00dy work!!!
Another experience that was becoming all too regular was the packing tents up in the middle of the night to stop ourselves being run over by trucks.Due to the nature of the countryside in this part of the world it was difficult to find a place to make our camp.This resulted in having to park the truck on the road on a few occasions.This resulted in us having to move our tents to let a truck go past at about 3am on at least 3 occasions.The shock for the truck drivers must have been just as great as it was for us.Luckily no injuries occurred although there was alot of shouting and screaming amongst all parties involved.
Finally we made it to the town of Boma which is situated at the mouth of the Congo river.From here on it was bitumen roads through to Mataudi.To say it was a relief to get through the last few days would be an understatement.
In Mataudi we recharged the batteries by going out on the town.Mataudi is the main port for D.R Congo and is quite a picturesque city.Deb and I found a great place to drink some beer,basically a roof terrace which overlooked the valley and the Congo river.The beer tasted very good indeed that night.....
I did have a bit of a scare the next day though.In the process of trying to buy some beer for the journey to and through Angola,the truck drove off and left me behind.Bit of a mix up was the excuse.The people in the front thought I was in the back and the people in the back though I was in the front.At least I provided the locals with a strange sight.Not too often they would have had an extremely hungover,sweaty white fella asking them if they'd seen a big blue truck.....