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April 1, 2013 / samwilson60

Back down to earth

The following morning, we set off into Lubango to try to get our hands on some Namibian dollars before embarking on our last southbound hop to the border. We weren’t sure how long it would take to get to Namibia, and we were certainly not in any rush, but Lubango was our best hope of changing money and we’d been told we’d be grateful of it at the border.

There were banks aplenty in town and most of them even seemed to have foreign currency (a rarity thus far). Finding a cash machine that would give us any local notes was more of a stumbling block, but after a couple of laps of town we were back at the first bank with wads of kwanza ready to turn into dollars. To our immense frustration, the staff at said bank had since decided they couldn’t help us after all. Having decided that if one more place said no, we’d start accosting ‘clients’ of banks and seeing if they would change our money for us, we happened upon a very nice lady who suggested that perhaps the bureau de change round the corner would be easier. It wasn’t particularly well stocked, so we still left with more kwanzas than we knew what to do with, but we now also had a random mix of Namibian dollars and Rand, one of which (or both) would certainly get us our Namibian road tax at the border.

By that point we were desperate to get out of town and onto the border-ward piste. It was a relatively short hop until our intended turn off, but when we got to that point without passing a single fuel station, we decided it’d be wiser to take the main road a little further, via a bigger town with almost guaranteed fuel, followed by a slightly shorter piste to the border. Unfortunately, as soon as we’d passed our planned turn-off, the tarmac disappeared and the road turned into a poor excuse for a diversion. As we were consoling ourselves that we’d had no choice – we had lots of kwanza and Angola had the cheapest fuel we’d see for quite some time – the ‘road’ deteriorated further, into by far the worst we’d seen in Angola, or anywhere else for that matter. It was infuriating and heart-breaking at the same time. That the Tinker Beast made it to the other end intact, and us too, was nothing short of a miracle. It was so upsetting we didn’t even stop to take photos, so you’ll just have to take our word for it!

We did make it to the end though, and we did find fuel. By this point it was dark and a storm was brewing, so we were more than happy to make camp as soon as we hit the piste. It was a beautiful area that would have been ideal if it weren’t for the risk of landmines. We couldn’t risk following anything other than well-driven tracks but still found a nice enough spot to haul up for the night, confident we’d be within reach of Namibia the next day.


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