Angola, it's not like they said
May 26, 2008 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Fascinating account (w/ pix) of a motorcycle journey through Angola. Stumbled onto this from the Black Flag forums and have not been able to stop reading it.
posted by jcruelty (40 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
Great anecdotes and pictures... reminds me of this trip someone took through Chernobyl
posted by wangarific at 9:33 PM on May 26, 2008

There should probably be a NSFW tag on that. It's a cool story but there's a definite "white guys going to Africa to check out native titties" vibe to those pics.
posted by bunnytricks at 10:13 PM on May 26, 2008

ADVrider has hundreds of amazing threads with photos of motocyclists exploring the world. It's an amazing resource for motorcyclists who enjoy long distance riding.
posted by gen at 10:15 PM on May 26, 2008

yeah the native titties theme was a little odd for me, too. but really an interesting story about a place you really don't hear a lot about.
posted by ninjew at 10:44 PM on May 26, 2008

Excellent post.
posted by tkolar at 10:49 PM on May 26, 2008

The "Chernobyl Motorcycle Ride" has been known to be a fake for over four years. She took a standard Chernobyl bus tour wearing a motorcycle jacket and carrying a motorcycle helmet. The organization that maintains the "zone of exclusion" that encompasses the site is quite displeased with her dangerous self-promotion, especially after she lashed out at them for exposing her.

Some Starters

The Original Expose

In the last several years she's edited out some of the more outrageously staged pictures, but her site still *strongly* hints that she traveled through the exclusion zone on a motorcycle, which she did not do.
posted by blasdelf at 10:49 PM on May 26, 2008 [3 favorites]

great post.
posted by ornate insect at 11:16 PM on May 26, 2008

Wow. Incredible.

Regarding the titties thing... I think some may be overstating it a bit. These are obviously worldly men, most former military, who are also men of some means, being able to afford trips such as this.

I feel safe to say they've seen BOOBIES! before.

I think what you're witnessing is the novelty of it, not outright sexualization.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:23 PM on May 26, 2008

Four of the five of us had done military service in Angola at some or other stage. Now we are here to holiday. It may be a problem for some.

That does not include José though. He sees us as bikers, friends. He clearly has put some work into putting things in perspective.

I don't really know how to explain all this and I don't even know if it should be dwelt on here. I will say only this.

José was wounded by a battallion I served in.
posted by tkolar at 11:31 PM on May 26, 2008

"white guys going to Africa to check out native titties" vibe to those pics.

Actually those guys live in (and served in the military of) South Africa.

From the pictures later on I would gather that they weren't particularly into titties, but had a thing for cute women instead.
posted by tkolar at 11:48 PM on May 26, 2008

Seconding Ynoxas, I didn't pick that vibe up at all. I suppose if all you did was scan the photos you might pick that up, but whatever.

Thanks for the link, fascinating trip.
posted by maxwelton at 11:48 PM on May 26, 2008

Fantastically compulsive reading. And the combination of worldliness, toughness and sensitivity in the voice was pretty disarming.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:59 PM on May 26, 2008

Wow I just wasted a good hour reading the whole story. I was amazed at how close they rode to the ocean and dunes. Also I wonder what it must have been like just riding with seeing just desert in front of you and and back of you for miles.

Putting fuel in the boxed wine bags seemed like a good idea too. Nothing that I would have thought of.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:04 AM on May 27, 2008

So... this is what an adventure is.

I damn well better do something like this before I cash out.
posted by Alex404 at 1:03 AM on May 27, 2008

Excellent post. Thanks for this.
posted by farishta at 1:34 AM on May 27, 2008

There should probably be a NSFW tag on that. It's a cool story but there's a definite "white guys going to Africa to check out native titties" vibe to those pics.

Wow, you work in the Vatican or something.
posted by mattoxic at 3:55 AM on May 27, 2008

Excellent post! I stayed up way too late and woke up way too early to read it.

George_Spiggott said "And the combination of worldliness, toughness and sensitivity in the voice was pretty disarming."

Perfectly said. This was written so much better than any travel-magazine piece ever could be. And it's refreshing to hear a non-American voice and perspective online.

And the copious photos -- which obviously slowed down the trip -- were fantastic. I know sometimes it's just a pain to pull out the camera and stop what you're doing, so I appreciate these all the more.
posted by loiseau at 4:19 AM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

There should probably be a NSFW tag on that. It's a cool story but there's a definite "white guys going to Africa to check out native titties" vibe to those pics.

The word 'vibe' is Not Safe For Texans.
posted by srboisvert at 4:22 AM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great stuff! Thanks.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:46 AM on May 27, 2008

Good Stuff. This, for me is what the internet is all about. Best of the web indeed Sir.
I doubt if anybody else would publish a story about 5 good ole beer drinking ex SA military motor cycle freaks taking on the vast emptiness of S. Angola. Good Pics, Good Story. Good Post. Six days and seeing only one motor vehicle - that is indeed out in the wilds. It was also poignant that they became such good buddies with Jose; and that the writer, who is not a literary man gets to grips with part of his past.
posted by adamvasco at 6:36 AM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you go to the forum home, and do a sort (down at the bottom) by "number of views," you will see the ride reports that have attracted the most attention over the years. This link might work. Some are deadly dull, but others have vivid writing, wonderful photos, and amazing connections with places you would otherwise probably not see. This one has spawned a book or two, a TV show, and more, for example; the other trip reports by the author of the Angola one linked above are also worth reading (linked here).

Like any other genre of writing, trip reports are written both by people with great sensitivity and nuance to the self/other dilemma of travel in the modern world, and by those completely lacking insight and self-reflexivity. The Angola one was a gem precisely because the people on the trip captured some of their process of rethinking their relationship with Angola, on top of traveling through some astounding places. Other ride reports are worse than the usual tourist article in your local paper. You read the good ones, and skip the bad ones, just as with everything.
posted by Forktine at 6:38 AM on May 27, 2008

Good lord that was great. Took me most of an hour to read, every minute well spent. What an incredible set of photos, what a great writer. My heart was in my throat when reading the whole section on the doodsakker.

I got curious about some of the places they went, here's some maps links:

Foz do Cunene, truly middle of fucking nowhere.
Tombua, end of the doodsakker.
Namibe, beach resort.

I couldn't find Monte Negro.
posted by Nelson at 7:54 AM on May 27, 2008

This is so inspiring! I watched The Long Way Round recently, which made me want to hop on the bike and go, but this forum post is even better. No chase vehicles, no TV crew, just a bunch of buddys and a long way to go. To cool.

Thanks for the post!
posted by Pecinpah at 8:14 AM on May 27, 2008

God damn that was good. Thanks, jcru.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:36 AM on May 27, 2008

I was holding my breath all through the section where he describes having to ride right at the water's edge, ocean on one side and dunes on the other. "If you get stuck here, you get fucked here". Yeah. Jesus.

Thanks for an awesome post!
posted by rtha at 11:19 AM on May 27, 2008

I read this all in one sitting last night, compulsive clicking each next link.

I know it seems somewhat naive or passe or some other french sounding term to say this, but that story really moved me, and further affected me.

I was startled at some of the photographs. I don't know if I am more amazed that places such as that exist, or that people actually live there. I mean, traveling through was an epic ordeal for them, and for the people they met, they live there every day.

I would give a lot of money to have a picture of me with an Angolan national with his arm draped over my shoulder, smiling for a picture he will never see.

When he looked over the dunes by the water, to see what the interior looked like, it looked exactly what I think an alien planet might look like. Truly, if the Mars rovers were to land in the Angolan desert a kilometer away from where that picture were taken, I'm not sure the results would be all that different. The satellites can't see the small encampments they visited. As far as vision will allow, it appears to be nothingness in every direction. I think aliens who sent a probe to the Angolan desert would likely surmise we didn't exist, either. (I'm abstracting a bit, but surely you follow my point. It's fucking remote.)

The guy driving the Range Rover solo was interesting, and I wish the writer had elaborated more on him. That would be truly challenging... since noone would even know you were missing, and there would surely be no hope of anyone coming to rescue you given an accident or illness. I'm reminded time and time again that some people are made of much stronger mettle than I.

The fact that there were so many opportunities for stuff to go profoundly wrong, but nothing did, save the fractured ankle. One corrupt policeman could have literally erased them from existence.

I'm a motorcyclist and I would really enjoy doing something like this, but perhaps only 1/2 as demanding/dangerous. Better make that 1/4. There are organized bike tours through China and India and so forth that I think could give you the cultural insight and still have the availability of medical care if needed.

Again, simply amazing post.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:26 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed that, thanks a lot for posting.

Did not enjoy the NSFW tit comments in this thread. To be expected though I guess
posted by dydecker at 12:33 PM on May 27, 2008

Hopefully I don't put out a "white guy reading stupendously great web account of trip to Angola to check out native titties" vibe when I say that wow, Angola has some gorgeous women.
posted by rusty at 12:43 PM on May 27, 2008

'Fascinating account' indeed. This is what MeFi contributors do best: discover people and accounts that amaze and entertain us without breaking our ankles. Great writing, great photos. Thanks for sharing this, jcruelty. That was a wonderful hour or two.
posted by cooper green at 12:45 PM on May 27, 2008

I spent most of the day, in between chores and chauffeur duty, reading this and it just blew my mind. I felt awful for Fred, and really respectful of the people of Angola. Great FPP.
posted by misha at 3:12 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

What a story! Fantastic post; kudos to the poster and the author alike.
posted by bicyclefish at 4:11 PM on May 27, 2008

Great story and great photos! Thanks for posting this.

Sadly, I could sense the betrayal he felt from his KTM. Those suckers are supposed to be "race ready" from the factory.

Regarding the "boobies" comments: Those guys seemed to show a very deep respect and appreciation for all of the people that they met along the way. That was really inspiring, actually.
posted by snsranch at 4:49 PM on May 27, 2008

Black Flag forums? Where?
posted by trigfunctions at 5:37 PM on May 27, 2008

Fantastic pictures, great writing, really enjoyed reading this!
posted by smitt at 8:15 PM on May 27, 2008

Thank you for posting that, much enjoyed. Very interesting to get a view of a completely different part of the world.
posted by fshgrl at 9:58 PM on May 27, 2008

absolutely fantastic. thanks for posting this.
posted by bilgepump at 10:35 PM on May 27, 2008

I should have linked to some other photo essays on in my earlier comment. Here are a few others I've enjoyed:

Indian Himalaya by 6 Africa Twin and 1 old good BMW GS...

Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Pamir Highway, afghan border etc...

Hidden Himalayas - Spiti Valley and Chandertal (MORE PICS ADDED)
posted by gen at 11:20 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Black Flag Cafe
posted by adamvasco at 11:21 PM on May 27, 2008

I love stories like this! Thanks for the extra links, guys.
posted by archagon at 6:15 PM on June 23, 2008

And more great ones keep coming. Here is a Turkish guy riding through Iran, for example.
posted by Forktine at 6:39 AM on June 26, 2008

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