Last night we stayed in one of only two buildings that had electricity in Mwene Ditu and the generator woke us up at 5am. The bikes were already fuelled so we packed our goods - there was no coffee or breakfast - a few energy bars and off we set at sunrise, led out of town by our host Jean-Paul. This was the first time since Lubumbashi that we had entered our destination and the GPS showed a route - as it turned out there was barely an excuse for a road - and it got worse - Mike described it as a “ghost” road. You could see that once upon a time it had existed but today it was marked by a single path or a gap in the vegetation with gigantic wash-outs - it took us 2 hours to do 50km!
It was a two pink day today - both earned by Quinton. After 120km, the road started improving, apart from the sandy sections which haunted the team right to the end! The team’s riding skills have definitely improved when you consider today was up there with the toughest of enduros.
We have driven along a railway line since Lubumbashi and today actually saw the train! This railway line could, if managed correctly, open up this part of the DRC - not much is required to do so. There are no roads but to have a functioning railway is like a real economic engine along with the natural environment and the abundance of water and people - all it needs is a plan with some local leadership!
We got to half way at 1pm and arrived in the outskirts of Kananga at around 4pm having picked up the pace somewhat and stopped at an orphanage called “self-made men” - what a touching story of an initiative started by Jose Konlolo and supported by the youth league of Kananga - the programme is focussed on rescuing AIDS Orphans as AIDS is a real issue in Kasai and when both parents die the community rejects the children. Mark went to inspect the living conditions of the orphans - 18 are currently lodging with “Self-made men” and used his discretion to support the programme. We then continued to the Kananga town proper and the Hotel Woodlands which was a fantastic find. Within minutes the team was swimming in the pool, cooling down after a tough day!
The Mayor (Madame Mamie Kakubi) of de Commune de Nganza, which includes the city of Kananga was at the hotel to meet us - a very impressive woman as was the manager of the hotel, also a woman. I have always said Africa needs more women in leadership positions!
We all had a great dinner, lots of wine and fresh fruit for desert. The team had, in the meantime, serviced the bikes under the watchful eye of Mike Puzey and after dinner ducked off to bed as we have another day like today, tomorrow - but exactly how it works out is dependent on the TIA gods.
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