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1992 Nov by Jorge Sanchez
I had been right to have chosen the border near Franceville, in Gabon, through the jungle to enter the Congo instead of the coast that goes from Port Gentil to Punta Negra. Sometimes the bamboo jungle concealed the ski and it seemed to me that I was traveling through a dark tunnel. I had come to Ecuador line, which I crossed.|
The \"roads\" were winding paths so that the truck driver seemed he would break in two. Sometimes the gap between left and right wheel was over half a meter. The passengers of that truck were all holding on to all outgoing we could and when I lifted my legs at the same time, it was like hanging without falling under the pressure of my companions. They considered it a normal trip, and all were laughing, joking. There were almost no river bridges so we had to wait for hours until a bac will happen to come to our side of the river. That time is spent collecting wild fruits of the trees of the surrounding area. More than once we had to get off the bus and walk several hundred meters as the truck took the road to the railway tracks.
Traveling in these conditions, it took four days to reach the capital Brazzaville, who had just changed its government.
As tourism is a rarity in the Congo, in every village people took me for a geographer or anthropologist sent by my country Government. Some others, when I said that I was a simple traveler, did not believe me and many took me for a spy who then report their wealth to my Government and in the future will return to their country to steal them. For Africans, all European are rich and have a university degree.
Brazzaville is named after the explorer Savorgnan de Brazza, an Italian count that became official in the French navy. He traveled the Congo and Gabon establishing peaceful relations with the natives who signed documents without understanding its final importance, in exchange for gifts of ironmongery. In these \"treaties\" were welcoming the French government to declare a \"protectorate\" over their land.
But despite these maneuvers, Brazza was one of the more humanistic explorers of Africa and was always opposed to the abuse and enslavement of blacks. Like all good travelers, he died \"with their boots on\" in Africa, owing to the fever that he contracted on his return from another trip to his beloved Congo.
The city itself was nothing special. Strolling through downtown looking for fruit trees, I noticed a monument in front of the train station: it was a powerful-looking black breaking slavery chains. And just beyond, in a central square where they were located the airlines companies, there was a poster giving statistics and information on conditions of trade of human flesh.
After a Few Days I took a ferry across the river Congo, which just over half an hour later I would reach Zairian territory.
1990 Jan by Peter Kuiper
This time the flight was on time, I arrived in Brazzaville at sunset. Entering the country took a long time though. I thought that the people were impossible here. Huge tall guys in uniform, police or army, were standing around me and trying to intimidate me. It was really difficult to keep cool and I had to defend myself in, at that time, insufficient French. I insisted again and again that I had a visa and that I had paid all the expenses for it in Berlin and that no further payments were necessary. Finally they gave up and gave me my entrance stamp.
I took a taxi to the Meridien and told the driver about our problems at the CAR border in Garoua Boulai. Now we drove up the stately driveway of this four star French hotel and who was walking there: INGO!
I called from the open car window, but he didn’t hear me. Later he said that he did hear me, but did not believe what he heard. I paid and got of the taxi in the middle auf the driveway. We were so happy to meet again, and so quick and trouble-free.
Ingo’s trip had been without problems. He had got a taxi-brousse to Bouar, about 155km from Garoua Boulai and had spent the night there. In the evening he even had had a good time in a bar with “de l’ambience”. The next day he had covered another 444km to get to Bangui. The atmosphere there was just as grim as in Cameroon, he had not attempted to take pictures in town. The only two were taken from his room on the River Congo.
The next day we walked around the town. There are only a few buildings in town and a European style shopping arcade. We went to the train station to get a ticket to Pointe-Noir. First Class! And we insisted on a seat reservation. Reluctantly the attendant printed the tickets and the reservation. He repeated several times that a reservation wasn’t necessary. Of course we did not believe him and wanted to be sure.
The next morning there was hardly anybody at the station. There was only one guy besides us in the whole car. Again I noticed that trains are something un-African. Normally one travels on a Toyota pick-up in Africa.
Pointe-Noire was not the bustling beach resort I expected. We did find a hotel near the beach, but we were about the only guests. We did a bit of swimming, but the water was really cold and the weather wasn’t warm either, about 22°, amazing because the equator runs through the Congo.
We found a taxi to bring us to the Diosso Gorge, 19km North of Pointe Noire. This gorge is called the Grand Canyon of the Congo, with red cliffs rising up to 50m out of the green jungle. We made some nice pictures there. When we were back in Pointe-Noire the driver suddenly wanted twice the money. The price we had made out with him was only for one person. I got angry, but Ingo was really furious. It got a real row in the street and a policeman came. With his help we finally came to a solution. We had to pay a bit more, but not twice the price.
We returned to Brazzaville the next day and stayed our last two nights in a very nice hotel called: Hotel Olympic Palace Brazzaville. The hotel only had 27 rooms all facing the beautiful garden with the pool. And all the rooms had names of flowers instead of numbers and were all individually appointed: our room was called passiflore / passion flower.
On our last day we walked to the Congo River and followed its stream. Not far out of town we saw the first cataract, the reason that this river is so hard to navigate. Between the dense vegetation we made a few pics of it and also of the skyline of Kinshasa. From here we could clearly see the InterContinental Hotel where we would stay the next day. |
1988 May by Veikko Huhtala*
We have one visit to Brazzaville. 1988 we flew there from Libreville, Gabon by Cameroon Airlines. We found one cheap hotel only less than one kilometre from the airport. It was really short way to walk. We got our visas in Kinshasa some days before, and we had not any problems in passport control. Brazzaville in a big city, population is more than one million people and it lies just on the Congo River. It is very short time by ferry from Kinshasa, because Kinshasa is locating just other side of Congo River. However we were going visit to Gabon, and we decided to fly via it. By the way, it was so easy to get visa of Rep. of Congo. In Kinshasa Embassy they wanted first Letter of Recommendation from Finnish Embassy. But there was not Finnish Embassy in Kinshasa. So we went to Swedish Embassy instead, but ambassador was not home. But his wife told us that there was Finnish Honorary Consulate in Kinshasa. We went there and got our letter. After that everything was easy and we got our visas in same day when we left our applications. We stayed only one night. In the morning we had Lina Congo flight to Bangui. On the way we also stopped at Dongou. It is a small town in the northern part of the country, near the border of Congo (Kinshasa) We went out of plane, because we thought that we are in Bangui already, but luckily we ask somebody and went back to plane. |