It’s been so long since my last blog that catching up is going to be a challenge. The best approach, I reckon, is to just pick up where I left off. My memories are getting a bit hazy, but thank goodness for pictures and my trusty Google Calendar. Without these two things, I would never remember where I’ve been and when!
In July, we headed out on the company boat of our friends, Mr. & Mrs. G. We knew fishing was going to be unproductive, so we planned to cruise along Mussulo Beach, nibble on some lunch, and take in the sights along the shore.
There are some very nice houses along Mussulo. According to the boat captain, most are owned by prominent generals and other government officials. Many of them look like small hotels, complete with dozens of tables and loungers set up on the shore. Most appeared empty except for occasional workers making repairs and wandering ladies selling various wares..
This lone potential customer is getting the hard sell from some ladies selling fabrics and dresses.
These young ladies were selling bread and eggs along the beach.
From our previous trips out, we have learned that proper boating etiquette has not yet made it to Luanda. More than once on this trip, we were almost run over by a fellow boater determined to have the right of way. Yikes!
If they weren’t zooming towards us, they were zooming around us. This is up close and personal, folks.
After cruising around for awhile, we spied a shanty town precariously perched on the side of a cliff. From a distance, the colorful window coverings captured the imagination.
As we approached, however, the reality was a bit less charming. I wondered why the windows on these buildings were so tiny, when they could have a very nice view of the water. But of course, I was looking at things from a first-world perspective.
You see, there was no glass in these windows.
The small size was to protect against rain and a persistent sea breeze – and for structural integrity, I imagine.
Navigating through this maze of buildings would be hard for us from the flatlands, but these residents seemed to make their way without a problem. Technically, these houses were oceanfront property, but one hard rain was liable to wash them right into the water!
As I’ve said before, there is always something interesting to look at while out and about. Case in point, the words on the boat below translate to “Mana does not want problems with your husband.” There is definitely a story there!
Looking for the beauty in a place like this can be a challenge at times, but as long as you view Luanda through the eyes of a photographer, it rarely disappoints.
Cruising around on a boat with blue skies and good friends – not a bad way to spend the day. In fact, it’s the best way here in Luanda to escape the city and relax. Since returning from my trip to the states a week ago, I’ve been lucky enough to go out on the company boat twice. The first time was with some lovely ladies who live in my apartment building, and the second time, hubby and I headed out with our friends, Mr. & Mrs. Adventurous.
It is winter now in Luanda, and thus, the days are getting shorter and the weather is cooling off. The fishing season has all but ended, but the whales have yet to arrive. Still, you never know what wonders will be seen while cruising around.
I love seeing the city from the water. The crescent-shaped Marginal with its tall buildings, a marina filled with huge yachts, and palm-lined walking path, almost looks like the French Riviera. It may take a hefty dose of imagination and some squinting to see it, but the resemblance is there.
The trip from the marina through the bay and past the port is always interesting too, though not exactly postcard pretty. Virtually everything consumed in this country comes from somewhere else, and it all comes in to this one very poorly organized port. The bay is littered with all manner of tankers, drill ships and container ships, waiting to deliver their cargo. As our tiny boat passes through the shadows of these enormous, rust-covered vessels, they look almost deserted. The only sign that they are not abandoned is the bilge water pouring out of a pipe in the hull.
Once out of sight of the port, Luanda looks like any typical vacation spot, with its deep blue water and yellow sand beaches. We always cruise along the shoreline, looking at the houses, boats and people playing on the beach, and then head off to open water to see what the day will bring.
My first trip, with the ladies, brought neither fish nor whales, but we did see a number of sharks lazily swimming along the top of the water. This certainly made me think twice about taking a swim! Thankfully, the water was too cold. Once we had tired of cruising around, we headed to Mussulo Beach and enjoyed a lovely lunch at the restaurant/hotel there. It is always a pleasure to spend time with these gals, whether on the boat or not, and it was a perfect way for me to reacclimatize to Luanda after being gone for so long.
For our second trip, we were blessed with more sunny, cool weather. After cruising around for about a half hour, one of our boat motors started making a rattling noise and had to be shut off. The boat has three motors in total, so there was no worry about getting back, but we all knew that this breakdown would take the boat out of commission for several months. In fact, it takes so long to get parts brought in, that it could be well into October before it is up and running again. The second company boat is also broken, and has been for some time, so this could be our last boat ride for awhile.
Regardless of how long the repair takes, this was the last Luanda boat ride for Mr. & Mrs. A, who are retiring and moving back to the states in about a week. We all hoped this trip would bring something extra special to send them off properly, and we were not disappointed.
After cruising around at a very slow speed, due to the loss of our engine, we spied some dolphins in the distance.
Although we weren’t able to race to where they were, they were certainly not playing hard-to-get. We puttered along and easily caught up with them. Then, we meandered through the huge pod, while they jumped and played all around us.
We had seen a similar-sized pod on a previous trip with Mr. & Mrs. A, but those dolphins were much smaller – and all were headed in one direction quickly. These dolphins were huge and seemed to enjoy playing around the boat. There were also some comedians in the group, especially one fella who delighted in jumping just off the bow of the boat, turning sideways, and splashing down, drenching us all. He did this over and over again, as we squealed from being hit with the icy cold water.
I would have loved to snap some photos of his antics, but I had my camera tucked into my shirt to keep it dry. We did get plenty of shots of them just under the water and riding along beside us, and I certainly didn’t mind getting soaked. Just seeing those acrobatics was more than worth the goosebumps!
After more than a hour of dolphin play time, we headed to another stretch of beach, a bit more remote than where I had been a few days before. We anchored the boat and brought our lunches on to the beach, set up chairs and umbrellas, and just enjoyed having our toes in the sand.
There were several other large pleasure boats already anchored there, one of which also pulled a jet-ski. This made for some free entertainment when the jet-skier headed out pulling a guy along on a wakeboard. The jet-ski driver was obviously inexperienced. We could see – and hear – that the wakeboarder was none too pleased at his lack of driving skills! Over and over, the driver sped up and quickly slowed down, which caused the wakeboarder to jerk forward and then bog down in the wake and fall. Oh well, it was fun for us to watch, even if it was not any fun for the guy at the end of the rope.
After walking the beach to look for shells, tossing a frisbee and flying a kite, it was time to head back to the city – very slowly, of course. None of us minded the extra time it took to get back, as the weather was still so pleasant. We will miss going out on the boat for the next few months, but will certainly miss Mr. & Mrs. Adventurous a lot longer than that. Luckily for us, they are retiring to a place not far from where our son lives, so we plan to visit them in the near future.
Although activities like these are special indeed, it’s the people who make these postings so memorable. In our short time here, we have connected with some great folks. Our numbers may be getting smaller, but I have no doubt that the “stayers” will work just that much harder to look out for each other. That’s just what expats do!
There is nothing I like better than digging my toes into cool sand while relaxing to the rhythm of the waves. Clearly, I did not do my research on Angola before I moved here, or I would have known that there are miles of deserted beaches, clean and beautiful, only two hours south of Luanda. Mr. & Mrs. Adventurous (my wonderful neighbors) have done their homework and have explored these beaches along with a myriad of other wonders within a short distance of the city. On our second weekend, they invited us to join them for a day at the beach – which turned out to be like none I had ever experienced before.
Imagine driving through continual chaos for over an hour and a half – people lined-up along a road choked with cars and motorcycles, where lanes and traffic rules mean nothing, to peddle their wares. These items can range from brooms to electronics to fish, lobster, fruit…whatever. And an occasional toilet seat to boot! The sellers walk in front of and between the cars, oblivious to the danger of being flattened by a distracted customer, and look for any response from passengers or drivers. I would have loved to take photos of this craziness, but did not dare pull out a camera for fear of having my window smashed and it snatched from my hand. Yes, that happens here. As I said, this goes on for an hour and a half…and then, suddenly you look out the window and see nature. Angola as it was meant to be. Beautiful, unspoiled beaches – just waiting to be explored.
We turned off the main road and our driver switched on his four-wheel-drive. Good choice, as the dirt road quickly became a lesson in driving over enormous potholes and through deep sand. The bumpy ride was worth every minute when the road opened up to reveal this:
The only other people on this entire stretch of beach were a man with a few fishing poles set up, and a woman digging in the sand for some sort of small mollusks. Later, a group of four or five Portuguese men showed up to frolic in the waves and then an Angolan man came by to ask for money. He was not pushy about it, gave us his spiel and then wandered off. Other than these few visitors, we had the beach entirely to ourselves for hours. We took turns walking the beach to look for shells and just enjoy the solitude and peace of the place. We ate our picnic lunches, drank some local beer called Cuca, and enjoyed visiting with Mr. & Mrs. Adventurous. What a wonderful way to unwind, and so close to the city!
On our way back, we drove by several small rural encampments, where children played in the dirt while their parents tilled a garden. Pigs, chickens and dogs were just part of the family and wandered freely. We saw a table laid with baskets for sale right next to the road, but there were no people guarding the wares. Mr. & Mrs. A, who were in the car in front of us, pulled up to the table – I assumed to buy a basket or two. Instead, Mrs. A went to the back of her car and pulled out a bag filled with cookies, chips, juice boxes, etc. No sooner had she retrieved the bag than a tiny, naked boy came running at full speed from somewhere behind some scrubby trees. His eyes and grin were bigger than he was as she handed him the prize. He grabbed the bag, and then ran to show his mother who was approaching from the same direction. She waved her thanks to us and then we were off. Another lesson learned – always carry something with you to give to these precious children. You will absolutely make their day – and your own.