Saturday, May 25, 2013

"33" km de Kinshasa

you know when you are beyond 33 km from the Kinshasa boundary, because there's a big red 33 Export beer sign with bullet holes in it that tells you so. there are no buildings, no open sewers, just a lot of deforested shrubby landscape the occasional wildfire and periodic clusters of mud houses and cementblock structures where people convene to buy, sell, get on/off of those trucks with jugs and goats on top and create the usual roadside chaos.

the weirdest thing though, is that besides the crooked teetering 18 wheeler or recycled army vehicle, the car of choice is the totally beat-up rusted peugeot 504. just like the one we saw not get stuck in the mud - the only car on the road is this:
my ride is pimped

it's a funny, trippy time warp and you wonder why these things are still running and so beloved more than anything else with 4 wheels?

if a 504 is driving in the direction away from kinshasa, it will have a bunch of dudes on the back, on top of the trunk, holding onto a makeshift roofrack. i guess the angle or something makes it comfortable, and even though they are cruising upwards of 80km/hr, they enjoy the air and happily wave with one free arm, rather than be troubled by near death experiences.

if the car is traveling back towards kinshasa, it will inevitably be piled with 20m makala, or charcoal sacks on the roof and back. this is the major driver of deforestation around here, actually, if not the only reason DRC's forest are disappearing - the entire city of Kinshasa cooks with charcoal.
these cars are stacked so high it almost looks geometrically impossible. their towering loads peer over a regular 18 wheelers, the bumper riding low near the road, dudes hanging off the backsacks, it's a wonder they don't topple over. good thing there are no bridges anywhere, so clearance isn't an issue.
i couldn't take pictures because the windows were covered in mud, and bruno, the quebecois who was driving kept screaming at me "mais esti si tu ouvres tu faye rentrer l'ayre show!"
once in a while, some guy on the side of the road will be holding up a dead antilope or something and we'll all turn our heads, woah! there are still antilope this close to kinshasa? that's a good sign!
there's a tollbooth. big signs that say pĂ©age and are a bunch of guys sitting in plastic chairs outside their booths in the shade of a delapidated overhang thing. for us we just wave and a guy jumps onto the counterweight of a big metal bar and raises it. most drivers are confused and don't understand that each lane can only be one way, and so it's not unusual for a truck to take the lane at their far left, and therefore coming directly at you, with a load of like, 18 giant tree trunks and then everyone has to back up, and people are honking and then you just say "tabernac quels grow cowns!" and you engage the 4WD and just hop the curb and drive around the whole mess.

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