Day 68.. Thursday 8th June
Back at the DR of Congo embassy for 9am and handed over passports, photos and obscene amounts of CFA notes. Our visas should be ready to collect at 8am tomorrow. Found a Toyota service garage 3 miles down the road. The city traffic was so bad that our journey took one hour. Plenty of police directing traffic and saw several cars simply ignore them. Most yellow taxis have rear suspension problems due to excessive rear boot loads or dented bodywork and bumpers hanging off. There were several expensive cars – certainly wealth is more evident in this city compared with the rural areas we have driven though in Cameroon. Several restaurants, hotels, banks and embassies around.
The day was going so well… We had a rather long 5 hour visit to the main Toyota dealership in town to get an oil change and some new filters installed. This was partly caused by the 1.5 hour lunch break the entire staff took from 12:30 till 2, signalled by a loud siren at the start and end, I guess since they can they hear it from afar. But the car is feeling almost new again, with power restored our confident is also restored in our onward journey.
We made it through the chaotic traffic to grab some superb lunch, something other than chicken and chips or fish and chips. It does require a higher power though to navigate through the traffic, with cars coming at you from all directions, ignoring lane markings or even lane directions. Taxis are the most fearless, crossing multiple lanes of traffic to get to where they need to be, or just stopping in front of you blocking all traffic. The only way to drive is to not care…. not care if your car gets a slight bump, and not car if you’re blocking anyone, since they don’t care about you.
The day was ruined though when we got pulled over by some police officers on the way back to the hotel. Note, I was driving perfectly fine, in lane, the right speed, etc, but lets be honest, they saw white people and thought $$$, a common occurrence alas (especially since our car is really not flashy by any means around here) He immediately went into the usual nonsense about how our car is illegal due to the steering wheel being on the right, and I did my usual of showing the carnet, driving licence, insurance, etc, explaining that he is wrong and it is legally imported. He made me pull over since a loud fight had broken out between a chap and several police officers. Jumping out of the car he then asked to see the inside of the canopy, which I obliged. Seeing that this was all fine he then decided to tell me that my class of insurance was wrong and that it was invalid. Well, complete nonsense and boy did I argue with this useless buffoon, but I could only push it so far as I didn’t want to tempt arrest or having the car impounded. It was clear the intent when he said he wanted 30,000 CFA. Well, I was hopefully loud enough about his intent, but again, not wanting to tempt it I had to pay up. But these bloody corrupt idiots do ruin the image of a country, especially when I’m trying my best to do everything legally. All the while this was going on Rachael had someone leaning in through the window explaining that it’s a real problem for the locals too. I even checked via WhatsApp with the chap who sold me the insurance and he confirmed it is the right type, and gave me a proper response to any such police in future if they try it again. Thankfully we’re leaving this place tomorrow!
At least the hotel had some beer.