What a night in Kikwit - the team experienced a Saturday night in town and clearly our hotel was the disco hot-spot! We had more than one disco blaring out NOISE rather than music until 4.30 in the morning. We were all up early - Mark was a little better having rested his injuries a bit and, after rolls with fried Vienna sausages and coffee, and with the bikes fuelled up, we headed out just after 6.30 lead by Pacific, one of the Kibali partners who had joined us at Kikwit - armed with cigars and great whisky - thanks Pacific and of course Didi and the MD team and John and the Freight Forwarders team. A very big thank you to Didi, Pacific and Cyrille who funded last night’s accommodation, drinks and food.
We got out of town and onto tar with only occasional potholes - more traffic than what we had encountered the whole trip within the DRC but even then it was not a lot given it was Sunday. We peeled off the first 210km in under 2 hours before coffee break - another 60km to the first Total petrol station we had seen in days - 210km in the same time and another coffee and while we were getting ready to complete the last run to Kinshasa. Christian and Alberto from the Kinshasa Motorbike club met up with us and lead us into Kinshasa. 18km out of Kinshasa, we were joined by a police escort who made sure we had an easy ride through the chaotic traffic from the airport into town.
All in all, a great day’s driving - 540km and we were at the Memling Hotel by 2.30pm. One of our shortest days but longest in kilometres. Despite the ease and the excitement of driving at speed through the winding hills and s-bends, a trip of this sort of day would have been boring - we loved it and the speed but one day of this is enough - a breather, a breath of fresh air and proof that highways build economies! It goes to show what roads do for a country’s economy as does electricity. With water aplenty in the DRC, infrastructure in the form of power (which is possible) and a basic road network, this country would be able to unlock its natural resources endowment and liberate its people, what an exciting opportunity. There is no doubt that the country has come a long way since 2006 and there is a foundation being built for the future. Despite what people think, the country is open for business - what it needs is investment and it’s not for the feint hearted!
Arriving at the Memling, was like arriving home - also hot and cold running water was a treat as it has been a scarce commodity on the trip - clearly the Memling is a Randgold partner as we were made to feel most welcome. A shower and a rest and off to Limoncello Restaurant for good Italian cuisine and wine.
Tomorrow is an off day but planned to be busy, with a visit to the Congo River, some institutions which we will be donating to and the hospital and a Nos Vies en Partage event later in the afternoon.
Should you wish to make a donation to the Nos Vies en Partage Fundraising drive then please click here