The day started with a very tasty breakfast - some confusion over fuel which proved to be short so they had to get the petrol station open at 7am to get the extra 40 litres required.
The first 220km was a mixture of broken tar and dirt sections but ridable although the sudden appearance of muddy patches (in particular in the valley bottoms) kept us on our toes! As did the sudden appearance of potholes - and potholes in tar are very much harder to ride than in the dirt road. We stopped a couple of times to catch our breath and allow Mike to review Charles’ bike, which has been giving problems, and Mark’s one spare tank sprung a leak so we had to drain it into the main tank - all in all it was technical enough to enjoy and not get bored. After taking a break with a ‘luke cool’ coke and re-fuelling, we were off on the last leg to Punia - a change to the planned route requested by the DRC security.
We had two spills today, with Rob and Paul earning additional stripes, - there were also a number of close shaves with a few near misses involving pigs crossing the road and oncoming traffic that NEVER moves over!!!
Then we crossed the Lowa River on the Bac Lowa Pont after waiting for just under an hour!
And then with the change in plan, we were off to Punia - on arrival we stopped off at the TA’s office to pay our respects only to learn that Raph had had an accident - the Prado was totalled but fortunately the driver and Raph were unscathed - the TA (Fracious Omandji) very kindly sent his land cruiser to fetch them and most importantly the key spares all co-ordinated from afar with the TA’s assistants. It’s amazing how the Randgold team can ”pull rabbits out the hat” when things go a little pear shaped.
After some phoning around we were able to secure 4 rooms at Notre Dame du Bon Conseil de Kindu at a priests’ centre called Mater Dai PUNIA and headed by Father Gabriel. The sisters at Notre Dame du Bon Conseil de Kindu were so friendly and hospitable - we all were invited to dinner along with the TA and it was a very comfortable and friendly evening.
Another long 11 hour day and, as Rob points out, there always seems to be a “sting in the tail” on these trips!
Tomorrow is another challenging day as we are going to try and pack two days into one and get to Kindu - we have some 41 broken bridges to cover and 245km to ride.
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