Day 117: Lambarene

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Tue 1 Mar 2011 17:36
Day 117: Tuesday 1 March 2011.  Catholic Mission gardens, Lambarene S00 41.518 E010 13.680 Distance driven 281 km
The day dawned very still, cloudy heavy and looking like more rainy - no chance to dry out, so we packed up and left for Lambarene, back along the track to the N2, 98 km away.  On the way the sun came out and it got very hot.
We realised that we had got so used to finding ATM's in most towns along the way so far, that we hadn't done any cash planning for Gabon, Congo DRC and Angola.  It seems that there are no ATM's in Gabon except at Libreville and that would mean a 500 km detour.  The are reportedly none in Congo either and our next possibility is probably in Luanda, Angola, some 2,000 km away!  We are quite short of cash but do have some US$ and Euros, but not many.  We figured out that we will need about 120,000 CFA for diesel to get us to Luanda (top side) and have decided to go onto a budget which includes bush camping wherever we can, and living off our stock of food in the car.  We will change 200 Euros as soon as we can and hope for the best! We are keeping our reserve of US dollars in case we can't get through Angola in 5 days and have to either pay a fine or pay for an extension. Watch this space!  We'll be staying at the Sailing Club in Pointe Noire - maybe I can earn some money there on boat maintenance!
40 km down the N2 on a bad surface we came to Ndjole again and bought some delicious hot roast beef and plantains at a street stall - lunch for 2,500 CFA (£3).  Once clear of Ndjole the road surface improved markedly and the next 140 km to Lambarene was a delightful drive on a very undulating road through wonderful forest with gangs of road men trimming the grass and cutting back the vegetation to give an immaculate appearance.
We are camped tonight in the delightful gardens of the Catholic Mission, or to give it its full name, Mission Soeurs de L'Immaculate Conception.  When we arrived, the mission school was in full swing but now the children have gone home it is beautifully peaceful and we are camped on the lawn surrounded by flowers.