When the taxi pulls into Monte Christo combi (minibus) depot all hell breaks loose. Its surrounded by touts: some get into the back, some open up the boot for my bag, others thrust themselves through the front windows. They are desperate for my custom to Oshataki, home of an Angolan consulate for an all important visa.
Despite some foot dragging I’m at the consulate for 9.30 next morning. Everyone is very helpful and the things they ask me for take half an hour to gather rather than the several hours it would have taken elsewhere in Africa. I am warned however that this is an application approval process only. They could simply take my money and refuse me entry. I can feel the hope building, which could be very bad indeed.
I can find nothing else to do in Oshataki other than the consulate to Angola, so its fingers crossed during a very lazy weekend. My diary entry for the Saturday simply reads ‘Washed shorts’. On Tuesday its more waiting at the consulate until the lady says ‘your passports please’ which is surely a good sign. All the glances they had been making in my direction suggested they were going to refuse me, which would have meant a big circumnavigational gap on the map.
From the Santa Clara on the Angolan side of the border I catch a minibus to Lubango. Evven with the hour I’ve gained from entering Angola (GMT+1 versus Namibia’s GMT+2) we don’t reach Lubango until nightfall at 7. Everyone is very helpful and rushes about trying to get me a ticket on to Luanda straight away. They have all sold out, but I’m told I can sleep on the back of a bus until morning.
The 6am bus departs on time. The road is as bad as any for a long time for half the journey. What was once well-tarred road has become so pock-marked its like travelling in a moon-buggy. Often the road is so bad vehicles use a rutted track on one or other side of the road instead. Burnt out tanks can still be seen from the war that ended finally 10 years ago, and we brush the end of a minefield. It was 450km or so from the border to Lubango, and another 800+km to Luanda. We don’t arrive until 10.45pm.