We were all up on time and spoilt with a hearty cooked breakfast and coffee - John and his team fuelled up the bikes and we rolled out towards Mwene Ditu at sunrise.
The road was potholed and narrow as we left town and then opened up and within half an hour we hit the first bit of sand - and sand that went on for half a km to a km at a time - not “chicken runs”. What was good was that the dew had damped things a bit so we soon got the hang of it and ploughed through. 40 mins of this then the road hardened and we settled into a steady pace, interrupted occasionally by short patches of sand and the odd run of washouts, potholes, roadblocks and a couple of surprise trenches across the road. We drove the whole day alongside a functioning railway track.
Our first stop, just after two hours, was at the 110km mark. We were all relieved about the road conditions with the hope that it would stay that way.
We encountered a few additional obstacles along the way - we had to work our way around a truck which was stuck at the ramp to a bridge and we forded one river and then also had to cross another river using the railway bridge as the car bridge had collapsed. This required special permission from the Territorial Administrator. The support vehicles also manoeuvred across the bridge and had to haul the truck which was stuck at the bridge. Didi also took time out to give a pregnant lady a lift to her village. These drivers are amazing and Didi, our partner in Kibali, has been such fun on the trip.
5 “pinks” today, two proper ones for Paul, Rob and Charles and two sand stalls for Rob as well!
Despite the apprehension about the road condition, it stayed the same all the way to the entrance to Mwene Ditu where, after being met by Jean Paul (a Congolese engineer who is working in the area) who lead us to our hotel in the town, we hit the mother of all sand roads!
After battling through this final obstacle, we arrived at the Hotel Carrefour to cold beers and a coke for Quinton (kindly supplied by Jean Paul) and a refreshing bucket shower - the vehicles arrived a few hours later.
We had a visit from the Mayor who popped round to welcome us and extend his thanks for the support to the community’s women and children by Nos Vies en Partage.
The Nos Vies en Partage Foundation’s donations tonight were to:
The Maman Kapi Orphanage which was started by Josephine Kapinga in 2004 - the orphanage currently has 62 orphans in its care and they support these children to completion of high school as well as giving them life skills. The institution also looks to offer or facilitate access to basic health and education to the wider community. Our support is intended to enhance the living conditions by adding accommodation.
ADIMIR - Action pour le développement intégrale en Milieu Rural which has been operating since 1995. Started by Priest Mtanda Bulembat who, with a group of friends, started helping people displaced by Katanga tribal conflicts and since then has broadened his net to save children displaced, expelled or orphaned by the many conflicts in this region of the DRC. His organisation currently cares for 60 children who have no parents or family or connection with their families.
Yesterday was supposed to be a good day and today not but it worked out differently - hey this is Africa (TIA!) Tomorrow - well it’s a wait and see but the good thing is its 100km shorter than today!
Should you wish to make a donation to the Nos Vies en Partage Fundraising drive then please click here