After a good rest day - we were up early and packed the bikes, cup of coffee and a frustrating slow delivery on the breakfast side. Nevertheless, those who did not get omelette, substituted with fruit and bread.
We wanted to leave at 6am and we were close to being on time - the ferry was waiting and so we drove straight on and were off on the other side of the Congo River and driving by 6.40am.
The first section to Kasanko was a relatively good road and we soon peeled off the kilometres. After one break, arrived in this little town and after a little confusion we made our way to the office of CREEIJ - Cadre de Recuperation at d’encadrement pour l’Epanouissement Integral des Jeunes - an NGO which has been operating for 5 years with a key focus on caring for vulnerable girls, giving them life and work skills and getting them back into society - they also do great work with the youth on conflict resolution and teaching tolerance. This NGO also does similar work in Kinshasa and North and South Kivu.
Another point is that, after leaving Kindu, we soon started leaving the jungle which was replaced by forest and then very dry savannah - the day was hot and very dusty which added to the challenge.
Mark and Charles attended the ceremony and presented Pascaline the group leader with an NVEP cheque which will go towards creating a centre where the girls can be trained, amongst other things.
While this was going on, the rest of the team fuelled up the bikes and so as soon as Mark, Charles, Raph and Roy had finished with the photographs etc, we were back on the bikes and off to Kongolo.
The road deteriorated as we progressed with the last 60 odd kms turning very technical and in some places sandy with the occasional surprise bridge with just a pole or two across! We had a few off-piste sojourns and Charles collected another duct tape award.
It was a long day and we had to cross the Congo River again using the railway bridge to get to Kongkolo. Some of the team were stopped at the bridge but soon released when Raph arrived - then someone found us and lead us to General Kitenge’s Guest House Oasis. After a bucket shower we were all ready for dinner - the people were friendly and made us feel so welcome and Doudou from our Kinshasa office ran around making sure the bikers were comfortable.
We are experiencing problems with the fuel pumps on the Husqi’s - Charles’ failed and was replaced but do you think we can get Husqi’s head office to respond with additional spares? No - anyway Mike’s wife, Kerry, snapped into action and has sourced two spares and some additional fuel filters which are the real issue (they are collapsing) and, with the Randgold logistics team, there is a plan to get them to Lubumbashi asap - the lack of support from the manufacturer is strange and makes one wonder why they build and market bikes like this without a commitment to support people like us who are really testing the product??
Anyway it looks like, with the help of Kerry, we have a plan and so let’s hope the bikes last till we get to the spares.
NVEP has also committed to supporting two schools with furniture and teaching materials - these schools are located in Kongolo centre - the first, ITC Kongolo, has 1 400 students and the second, EPA Mwamini, has 1000 students.
Tomorrow, another early start and 360km day.
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