#25 – Finding companion in Angola
The place I stayed at appeared to be well known for a great surf spot. Three guys who work for a Portuguese airline stayed here as welll and invited me to come with them to surf.
By times the water looked calm. But every 15 minutes or so, a set of decent waves allowed us to travel on our surfboards. For a few hours we forgot everything we can care about, and enjoyed the moment in the comfortable ocean.
Back at the resort, another tourcycler just arrived. Her name is Tania and she’s from Portugal, and she’s also on her way down to Cape Town. For the first time in this trip, I met a real long distance tour cycler, and I’m excited to spend some time on the road together.
The resort I was staying at went beyond the standard hospitality. They not only let me camp for free, but also provided me dinner and breakfast for free. They simply love to host people who travel overland, and like to hear their stories.
After saying goodbye, I went back to the asphalt to follow the very remote route towards the South. And I was very happy to have company from Tania, who I met yesterday. With several big cycle trips across the world, spread over 8 years, she had many interesting stories to tell.
“My name is Andries, and I’m inviting you to my house”, a random car passenger said to us, and so went to his place. He appeared to be a Namibian farmer with Dutch roots, and he served us some excellent food and a very comfortable bed. Angola really keeps amazing me every day.
The love and the warmth of the people here in Angola is from a different level. After we left our amazing host Andries and the duck farm next to his house, we encoutered many people on the road who stopped for us and wanted to make selfies.
Some of them even recognized Tania, because for some reason someone published fake news on internet that she got robbed yesterday, and a picture of her and the bike went viral in the country. However, nothing happened, and it even ruined her otherwise so beautiful day.
We passed a lot of wide and amazing grassy landscapes, and eventually arrived in a small city. We were able to camp at a restaurant in front of the ocean, and met all kind of people that we met on the road or knew other people that we met. It was like one big spiderweb of connections and coincidences.
Without any hurry we cleaned up our movable houses, and we even went for a morning swim in the ocean. We waited for Joao to arrive before noon, who is a client of my former job and with whom I and my former boss arranged to meet.
Joao was able to host us in his house for today, and offered me a place in which I could enjoy an inmportant moment in this trip. My video “The Journey to West Africa” got selected for a cycling festival in Paris and was shown there today. After the video was presented to about 600 people, I was put on the big screen with a live connection, in which I answered a few questions from interested fellow cyclers. I was very honoured to reach this point in my trip now already, and it felt like a final product of telling my story to the world.
After the meeting, Joao invited us to dinner with a few of his friends. They grilled crab, fresh local fish and pig, and shared all kind of drinks from their private bar. All the people were more than just a group of friends, they were like a huge close family, something I can only he jaleous of, and I was glad to be part of it.
A few beers too much yesterday evening made us a little slower this morning. A steady ommelette breakfast with chorizo helped our bodies getting in motion. Even though we wanted to stay one more day at Joao, we continued.
The landscape we passed was stunning, with a small delta providing life in the wide and open fields. Traditional housed looked upon us, as we passed through the hot air. At the end of the day we were stopped by a news channel to get interviewed, partially because Tania became a little famous due to the fake news of last week.
On Google Maps we saw a place with a swimming pool, and made it our main focus to go to. The place appeared to be a hotel, located on a hill with a great view. We could camp, shower and cook here for free, enjoying the flexible Angolan hospitality once more.
Cycling with another person also means sharing equipment. Tania has a fuel stove and a tool to make coffee. To have a cup of the boiling black liquid during camping really is an improvement of my daily routine.
We could follow the coastline, but went to do a detour inland instead. We read about a beautiful waterfall and some other interesting places. I could hardly imagine a waterfall as the one we suddenly saw appearing. Tons of water rumbled down over what looked like a natural staircase made for giants.
Once again we were followed by some mysterious guys on motorbikes. They said they were police, but couldn’t identify themselves. When they were acting suspicious, we called Tania’s aunt who works for the government, and was able to tell the men to stop following us. We were glad they did. Eventually we arrived at a school where we could camp at, without being checked and being told what to do.
From the red clayed villages we continued our climb up the Angolan mountains. My brakes recently lost most power, so going downhill became a bit tricky. Regularly I had to reduce my speed with putting my sandals on the sliding tarmac.
We reached new heights and the beauty of the landscape increased by every meter we climbed. Layers of mountain ridges started to appear on the horizon, as far as the fading air.
A set of giant bold rocks dominated the area, looking a bit odd as of someone misplaced them. In the shadow of these skyscrapers we found a place to camp early, so I could try to fix my brakes, but in trying to do so made the situation irreversible worse.
A fierce rainstorm opened the day for us. A day in which we were not sure about what was going to happen, as so often. My brakes were still powerless. A guy from Fiji gave me the wisdom to use a flip flop between my wheel and the fender, as it was better than nothing.
In the first village I bought a pair of cheap flip flops, and placed one of them on the position. I was able to brake, but the steepness and the frequency of the downhills made the flip flop almost dissolve after 5 km. With a even larger ascend of about 1000 m in front of us, I thought it would be wiser to hitchhike, with reluctant.
With reluctant, because the surrounding was covered with a beauty that I had seldom seen before. And to miss one of the most pleasant moments in tourcycling, going downhill, to be rewarded with free movement on which many effort has been put into.
After a fruitless attempt to find a bike shop to replace my brakes, Tania caught up with me and we continued together. The road was still hilly, but most parts were doable with powerless brakes. I should be able to resolve the matter in the next city 200 km ahead of us.
We passed a beautiful canyon along the way. For the biggest part of the day we were followed by a guy from the police again. One of the new motives was to protect us from the 400 prisoners that escaped and wander around in this area.
The guy followed us all the way to our new campspot, at a charming and old Portuguese farm. We cooked a simple yet tasteful pasta to finish our day.
Dozens of caterpillars claimed my bike, big spiders let us dance, larvae were hosted under our tents, several type of flies were ruling the air and an enourmous beetle seemed a bit lost. Our campspot was full with life.
Today’s road seldom showed flat parts, and asked a lot from our physical energy and our legs. In one larger village we were able to refuel our body with rice and chicken. Eyes were glued towards us as we passed the little market, were we got surrounded by curious kids.
The sky turned pink and yellow, as we put up our tents at a roofed building in a small village. Tania’s fuel stove wasn’t working well, but the nearby locals let us use their kitchen, so we could enjoy another delicious pasta.
After yesterday’s long ride, I had a delicious solid sleep. A tasteful cup of coffee was needed to wake my body up and to start pedalling. We packed our bags, said “muito obrigado” to the villagers who allowed us to stay here, and off we were.
The skies are getting more blue, the landscape less green and the climate warmer and dryer. The first part of the day, the road was incredibly steep by times, while during the second part of the day the road was as flat as a pancake.
In the city Lubango we were heading to an acquaintance of Tania. Suddenly our navigation told us to enter a slump. Not knowing what to expect, we did do so. Behind the first layer of steel sheeted houses, we arrived at a villa, where Joao was waiting for us and welcomed us with the Portuguese hospitality.
After an operation of 8 hours, my bike gained back the ability to brake. One hydraulic brake has been refilled and restored, while the other one was beyond repairing and got replaced by a mechanical one.
While the bike got taken care of, I had to visit the immigration office to extend my visa. Today was my last day of my current visa, so I was hoping that they could finish the process the same day. The officers were extremely helpfull and took extra care to make everything allright, and so my visa got extended for another month.
This morning Tania continued, as it is the start of her trip and she doesn’t want to spend too many days resting now already. Despite I find it sad to seperate, I can totally agree with her and I’m pretty sure we will meet in a few days. This is one of the beautiful things about biketouring, we can go when and where we want, without being restricted to others.