Sunny in the morning and p1ssing it down in the arvo.......
Thats what we have for ourselves in the lovley lovely town of Lubango in Southern Angola where we are gaining some respite from the sh1te potholed strewn road south from Luanda......
Angola certainly has been an experience.Our experience started with our first encounter with the officaldom of the country while trying to enter the country.On arriving at the Angolan border post after being stamped out of D.R Congo we were informed that the official who stamps the passports had been called away on urgent business but they were expecting him back very soon.
No worries for us as it was still early in the day and we were used to waiting.Of course this being Africa,the back very soon bit turned into very soon the next day.So we pitched our tents amongst the 100 other people who were now all held up at the border by the bloke being away.Some of the more cynical amongst us ie. me,commented that his official business probably involved rooting the local slapper and drinking beer with his mates.
Not being much to do at a border post in Angola,we soon commenced the usual routine of drinking and playing scrabble.The locals pretty much left us alone which up to know was very unusual as we were attracting large groups of onlookers wherever we stopped.Most notably when we had camped on a school ground when coming through the mountains from Boma to Mataudi whereupon we had a whole village watching our every move.At one stage there was near to 60 people watching "les blancs" go about their business.
I did have a funny encounter with a group of young kids at the Angolan border.These kids were aged about 4 and were running amok,kicking each other,shouting,playing football with a tin can etc etc.One came up to me and I said hello in my best Portuguese.He replied in the only english he spoke "Fark you".I thought I must of misheard him but when he said it again and again it was definately "Fark You".Of course me being the easily offended type I p1ssed myself laughing.Obviously someone had come through before us and had taught this kid some english.Now I couldn't complain about that after teaching some kids in Mauretania who were shouting and chasing the truck the age old Aussie greeting of "show us your t1ts".Kids are very impressionable the world over....
After a quiet night spent at the border,we were lucky enough to get our passports stamped and were on our way south.We only got about 5km from the border before we encountered a giant water filled pothole.Sure enough we went through it but got stuck.Luckily for us a truck(with beer strapped to the top of it) coming the other way hooked up a tow rope and pulled us out.On speaking with the driver,he warned us to get through this area quickly as the rain was coming and the roads would then become impassable.The road throught his part of Angola took a winding steep route through a very mountainous region.Very slow going but we managed to get through without any further mishap.Camping a couple of kms outside the town of M'banza Congo that night,we were all relieved to have gotten through the first part of the angolan experience relatively unscathed.
The next days drive was pretty much uneventful and we even encountered some tarmac which was unexpected.As per usual with this part of the world,the infrastructure hasn't been repaired or improved since the former colonial rulers had left.Maily due to civil war and the squandering of the nations funds by the new rulers.Angola was no different and it was spooky at times to see old Portuguese style farms and buildings that had been abandoned when the Portuguese fled the country en masse in 1975.Surprisingly none of the locals lived in these buildings.
One of the most freaky 30 minutes of the trip was experienced while driving down from the mountains onto the coastal plain.The road wound itself down through some very dense forest which was growing over the road.On closer inspection we all noticed that there was giant spiders hanging in even bigger webs.The worst part was that where there was a tree hanging over the road you'd find a spider had woven a web from that tree to one across the other side.This resulted in the truck taking down a number of webs which in turn resulted in the spiders crawling over the truck.Now I'm not too fazed by spiders having grown up with big spiders raoming through the house but these were something different.The small ones were the size of your hand and they resembled something from the film Aliens rather than your normal everyday spider.Certainly not an enjoyable experience for the arachniphobes amongst us.
We finally arrived in Luanda where we were to spend a few days while Chris repaired the truck after a spring had cracked from the constant battering the roads had given us.It gave us all a chance to relax,do some washing and enjoy the beachside location we were camping at.Well our campsite was more of a carpark in front of a bar but we did have the beach within very short walking distance.
Luanda itself was a beautifully situated city with a natural harbour and a 3km long promenade,although there was the usual shanty towns on the outskirts.The city had missed most of the fighting during the civil war although some of the other places we passed through weren't so lucky.As we drove down the main street of Lubango the bullet marks in the buildings stood out like dogs balls.
We were staying just outside the main city centre on what was basically a large sand spit.It appeared to be one of the wealthy areas as large houses and a number of bars and restaurants prevailed.It was a beautiful area and apart from some coppers trying to get a bribe from Chris and I one night as we stumbled back after a few beers we had no hassles.In fact the locals were some of the most friendly people we met.
Not that I've ever been to Brazil but the atmosphere along the beaches near to us was what I would expect to find there.As Deb remarked,it was the first time in Africa that we had seen the locals actually out enjoying themselves on the weekend.Along the beaches there was music,people selling freshly grilled fish and alot of people selling alcohol which appeared to be one of the national pastiimes.
During our time here we lost 3 more people from the truck.Jo and Andrew had to get back to NZ for a wedding.Unsure how long we were going to take to get through sothern angola they decided it was best to leave now.Ken also took the oppurtunity to go home.Being from South Africa he didn't have far to go.This certainly changed the group dynamic and gave us who remained even more space on the truck.
So after a nice few days of relaxing and taking in the many bars that were nearby,the remainder of us undertook the journey south towards Namibia and for me the joy of returning to a country which I count as one of my favourites to have visited being in Namibia 10 years previous.Even better though,the thought that we have finally got through all the hard travelling and from Namibia onwards its all beer and skittles or in my case beer and Simba chutney flavoured chips........