About three months before we moved out to Luanda I followed advice and ordered a new car via a trusted export company. I wasn’t too fussy about what make and model, as long as it was a new 4×4 from a well-known manufacturer and within my budget. I ended up choosing a Ford Everest because I was offered a special deal on a new car that had been built the previous year but never sold.
I got a 3 litre diesel automatic for around $23,000 including shipping costs. Now my American readers will probably be thinking, “Wow, that’s expensive!”, while my British readers will be thinking, “Hmm, not bad!” I think it’s a reasonable deal, all things considered, and ordering and shipping it was pretty hassle-free.
The supplier/exporter is based in Denmark, and at time of ordering the car was being stored in Thailand (where it was built, I suspect). I also ordered a stereo radio/CD player with an iPod connector, and in order to fit this I was told the car would need to be sent to a workshop in Antwerp.
And so the journey began. As we were making our own preparations for the move our new car went on a journey by sea from Thailand to Luanda via Antwerp. I was assured everything was in order along the way and the car actually arrived in Luanda port the same week that we flew out.
However customs clearance in Angola can be a very slow process, and it was only two weeks ago, while we were away on our Jo’burg weekend that Karen got the call to say the car had finally been delivered to the Embassy. We got back from Jo’burg excited, looking forward to getting on the road.
Our excitement soon turned to disappointment when we saw the car in the Embassy compound. The first thing that struck me was how dirty it was: dusty, and covered with whitewashed identification numbers, and with several bit of paperwork stuck to the windows. This is all perfectly normal of course, but nevertheless it took me by surprise. On being given the key I naturally jumped into the driver’s seat to start her up. The battery was completely flat. An Embassy driver took it out and put it on an overnight charge but it made no difference. It was totally dead. I guessed that the battery had just sat in the engine compartment for over a year, never used, and had just died.
Unable to start the engine I inspected the rest of the vehicle. It turns out that the stereo they fitted in Antwerp is the kind with a removable fascia, the idea being you take the front plate of the stereo with you when you park up so that no-one breaks in to steal it. My removable fascia had evidently been… erm… removed by person or persons unknown, because it wasn’t in the car. Neither was the toolkit: the compartment that should have contained jack, wheelbrace and a couple of screwdrivers was empty. It looks like someone, somewhere along the line, had taken everything that wasn’t screwed down.
I have insurance of course, but with an excess of 700 Euro it’s not worth making a claim for the fascia and tools, so I guess I’ll just have to buy replacements. I bought a new battery locally (For $185!), for which I will be reimbursed by the supplier. The fuel tank was completely empty too — should have expected that I suppose — so we had to take a Jerry Can to the station to get some diesel. When we got back to the compound we realised that we didn’t have a funnel to get the diesel from can to tank, so the drivers and guards improvised, using the plastic tubing from the back of my own now discarded water-damaged office chair. It wasn’t perfect but most of the fuel ended up in the tank, so mission accomplished.
At least the car runs now but it’s still not quite ready for the road. We’re waiting on registration plates, after which it should be quick to arrange local insurance and thorough cleaning. After that we’ll finally have our own wheels, although it’ll still be Dino driving for a while, until my local licence arrives.