So on Sunday we, PG and myself, went to Bellas to go see a movie: The Incredible Hulk, which was actually really good. I thought it was cool. The really scary thing for me was how much we actually just take really good special effects for granted nowadays.
The “This Is Africa” German Coke Truck!
After seeing IronMan a few weeks back :), and now this, it is just normal to see a CGI movie, and actually think that what you are seeing in there, you could walk out of the cinema and see in real life. Some green dude running down the road. Really freaky the way it starts to blur the lines of reality.
Well, at R60 for the Movie and R60 for the Popcorn and a Can on Sprite, it was an expensive experience. Little Portuguese kids shouting and talking the whole time through-out. Really little Portuguese children crying – like months old babies – who’s parents obviously decided they weren’t going to miss out on this on the big screen, and just had to come. And no one said anything about it. That is the most amazing thing. It is just the done thing. Man, and I like my quiet movie theaters! Haha, experience of note.
So on the way back the driver, not one of the usual 2 we have, they have the weekend off now, decided that he was not going to go the normal route, as the road was rammed, so he would go another route, a shorter route. Cool, PG was happy as we would be back in time for the Footie: Spain vs Germany!
Well, we drove and drove and then the light was gone and the road went from being 2 lane tarred, to one lane tarred, to one lane dirt, to just a complete tailback. We were stuck in traffic. Lots of traffic. Then we got nudged from behind by another vehicle in the middle of this chaos. Our driver, though not very good with the Safety Procedures just climbs out, leaves the door open with the engine running and walks back to check the damage. I leant over, closed the door, and locked it. Now it’s not like anyone would try hijack us, as we were going nowhere in that traffic, but the safety factor is till very much an unknown! And not a f#ck was I getting out to check the issue. These guys still carry guns around here. Plus the location wasn’t the most inspiring I will say.
So, the damage was minimal, just a nudge actually, nothing doing, and we carried on at a walk. In fact at one stage people walking past were going faster than we were. We continued on this road a while longer, and then the road stopped. There was some detour and loads of construction, and the driver was a bit foxed, but we carried on down another “short-cut”. It was around about now that I saw a plane coming into land on our left, about a km away. This was mildly concerning as the airport is a way out of town, and should have either been in front of us, or to our right on this trip back. We went through a fairly busy crossroad/taxi-rank intersection, and had to slow down considerably as we did so. All the onlookers on the side of the road were inquisitively peering into the vehicle to see what was inside. Plenty of chaps staring directly at me or leaning closer into the vehicle to get a good look. It was around about now that I started to feel, for the first time since being in Luanda, uneasy about being a non-Portuguese speaking expat. Hey easy for PG and our driver, the 2 BLACK dudes in the car, however for the white guy upfront, it could be a problem. The thing that I was actually nipping about the most was not really me being white, but the fact that we had a driver in full uniform, easily identifiable by the lapels and clothes he was wearing, so I was more nervous about us being identified as being of a “wealthy industry” and therefore “hijackable”. Blame the stories I hear from certain people about Nigeria I guess.
We continued on along this dirt road, the traffic now becoming less and less, and far more free-flowing, until it took another detour . . . to the right. i.e. further away from Luanda. At around about this stage the driver pulled over again, flagged down a passing car, and walked over, once again leaving the door open. Here however was a perfect place for Hijackings, so once again I leant over, closed and locked the door. This time he got “better” directions . . . back the way we came! I asked him if we now knew where we were going, and he replied everything was good. “Don’t worry, you are Safe.” he chimed. We turned around and started along the road for a while longer, this time slowly heading back in the general direction of the airport. A bit further down the road we came across a police man, on foot, walking in the direction we were travelling. Appears the directions we had gotten were still not sufficient, so our driver pulled over and we got a bit of direction advice from the policeman. After both repeating the same few words time and again, something to do with forwards, the driver suddenly tells us the Cop is getting a lift with us to help with directions. “Don’t worry, it is good for us.” Appears our driver wasn’t feeling as “safe” as we were supposed to be! 🙁 So our cop got a lift, and we got fairly good directions.
About 30 minutes later of driving through the slums, we emerged onto the main road back into Luanda. We were now quite a few miles past the airport, and it was very interesting to figure out roundabout route we had taken. On our way out of the “slums” we passed loads of sidewalk “shebeens”, with guys standing around drinking and chilling. The taxis out here controlled the road, and had absolutely no regard for the rules of the road or anyone else. A few constantly suddenly stopping directly in front of us, without any sign of a warning, and not caring a damn when the driver leant out and shouted or hooted at him. Once again, the Angolan Attitude showed it’s colours – Me First!
Yet, the surprises were not going to end here. At the one junction that we were definitely supposed to turn left, the driver decides to turn right. Into a one-way. Man, that delayed us another 30 minutes. At thsi stage I was fuming, but there was no point in getting cross now, as there was nothing further to be done. We were now less than 3 kms from home, so it was just sit back and wait.
So, over 2 hours after leaving Bellas, A trip that should take just less than an hour, we arrived home, to just get the last the 30 mins or so of the footie.
PG was well pleased.
So, looking back now in hindsight: It was a bit nerve-wracking at the time, but very informative and interesting to see “how the other 80%” actually live. To see the environment and habitat. The challenges for the Government are HUGE! Can something like this ever be undone? Unlikely. Can this poverty ever really be eradicated or the people truly uplifted and provided for? It is going to take a while. A long while. I don’t think it will ever happen in my life-time. Nor my next generation’s. Something like this doesn’t change over night I can promise you that much. Not even with the amount of money that Angola currently has, or is making. It starts with education and empowerment. And, the way things are going with the amount of Chinese coming in and most of the infrastructure work being outsourced to them, it is a long way off. A lot of Angolans are already very upset with the way things are going, the slow rate of progress, the lack of visible infrastructure, the lack of creation of jobs or better conditions for the local people, the excessive wealth that Sonangol (the state owned oil company) is displaying. However with only one ruling party, there isn’t much they can do about it. Unfortunately.
Easy Going Guy 😉
Loving being Alive! 🙂