We were up early the next morning, and met up for breakfast. I went to the front desk to check on the status of our driver for the day, and they still hadn’t heard anything…but promised to let us know. No clue why it was so difficult! Went back 30 minutes later and it was confirmed. The price was lower than we expected, so it turned out to be all good in the end.
Unfortunately our driver spoke no English, so I got to chat with him and play translator. I felt semi-bad for Ian and Jordan, but he was a good driver so it worked out. He was happy to share his version of the recent troubles CAR has been going through, and his insights into how things are now. The one word he kept using over and over to describe the current situation was “calm.”
Turns out the reason for the delay is the hotel has one driver they use, and he was sleeping/unavailable when we originally made the request. When they finally got in touch with him, he was happy to take us and he decided the price he would charge. We were headed to the Chutes de Boali waterfalls, about a two hour drive out of town. The roads turned out to be pretty good for the most part, and I’d guess it was a roughly 120-150km drive each way through pretty typical African countryside with wide open spaces:
After about two hours of driving, we got to the turnoff point to the falls, where the road was gravel and quite a bit rougher:
Headed to the waterfalls:
When we got to the falls, we were swarmed with local kids insisting on playing guide. There was no way we were getting rid of them, and they only wanted a few dollars, so we decided to play along. It was worth it in the end because they were happy to show us around. First stop on the overlook, the falls were much bigger than I had expected!
Our driver turned out to be a pretty good photographer too!
Wide angle view of the falls:
The kids asked who wanted to go down to the base of the falls, and Ian and Jordan decided to go. I decided that with the semi-recent shoulder surgery it was better that I passed on it, and in the end I think that was a good call. I don’t think Jordan went all the way down, but Ian did:
Unfortunately somewhere near the bottom he slipped pretty badly and banged his jaw on a rock. Fortunately nothing cut or broken, but he was definitely pretty sore for the next few days!
Our driver taking a selfie at the falls:
After that, the kids took us to the top of the falls, maybe 100 meters from where they plunged down below. Of course there was a bridge across the river, which given how it looked I decided to skip again. Ian was a bit braver:
…as was Jordan, with the kids making sure he was safe:
After the bridge we headed to the final viewing platform at the top of the falls. There were a few UN types hanging around there, and they’d brought their own personal bodyguards to make sure they were safe. I still don’t know if this is just typical UN overcautious, or if the situation was really that volatile that things could have gone south at the drop of a hat. Either way, at no point at all did I feel the least bit unsafe:
After the falls, our driver asked if we would like to see the small city of Boali. Absolutely! He took us to the house of the local pastor, saying we would be safe with the pastor walking us through the town on a Sunday…nobody would mess with the pastor!
We set off on the walk, and everyone we passed was smiling and waving to us, and greeting the pastor. It was a super cool experience. A little girl with her mother, playing in the wreckage of a burned out car:
Street shot of the town of Boali:
The walk was super interesting, and the pastor was happy to share his views on things. Seems the Seleka rebels had come to Boali because of the hydroelectric plant there, and they wanted to cut power to the capital. People resisted him, but he said they brutally killed hundreds of townspeople. You wouldn’t know it from the friendliness we saw, but apparently Boali had seriously suffered as recently as just six months ago.
I wanted to keep walking and talking to him more, but the sun was also super strong and we were getting pretty hot, so it was time for the long drive back. On the way, we passed a group of women in very colourful outfits just walking down the road:
We also saw several men transporting wood on carts like this:
Very overloaded car…this guy didn’t seem happy to have his photo taken:
We made it back to the hotel late afternoon, and grabbed a snack, hanging out for the rest of the day. We considered wandering the city, but given we didn’t really have the lay of the land and darkness was just over an hour away decided it probably wouldn’t be the best of ideas. It was time to fly out early the next morning and continue the adventure!