A Good Day for Angola! A BAD Day for us! The day started quiet and slow, without any issues. No gunfire, shouting or misbehaving. Fine so far. 🙂
Election Flags; Election FLAG! (The size of a car)
The roads outside the house were really quiet, and it was around lunchtime that we decided we were going to head out to Ilha and go check things out. We were also gonna look for Carvao (Charcoal) for the braai we were gonna have later on. Tango Delta wasn’t driving that day, unless specifically required to do so, like airport trips, etc. So all staff jaunts were out. I called up The Architect and we picked him up on the way thru. Everything was closed and we just drove down to the end of the Ilha to the lighthouse. At the end of the spit we found a market on the right that was half open, they weren’t really selling anything except food and drinks, so we pulled in to find out if we could get any carvao nearby.
We landed up asking the one stall seller, who was serving a policeman. He spoke really good English, had apparently worked in Namibia for a while, so was interesting conversation whilst we waited to hear where we could get carvao. Well, no one knew, so we chilled at the lighthouse on the corner, and just watched the people for a while. 2 things were soon very apparent about the lighthouse corner:
1) It was a great place to park off and watch literally everyone who drove past wheel spin, handbrake, wheelie or rear-wheel slide trying to get attention. It could only be a matter of time before some taxi, 4×4, or bike would wipe out here. Saturday nights must be legend here with a camcorder. But, it was not to be our time. As much as the taxi and bikes were pushing he envelopes on that corner, there were no such entertaining moments. 🙁
2) It appeared to be a good place to get picked up, if you were looking to . . . as we were being eye-balled by everyone on the way round. One person chatting us up after they stopped, by emergency breaking, to put the child’s safety belt on in the back. Classic.
THE Lighthouse; Torres Atlantico
Well, from there we were headed back towards the house, without carvao, when we decided to call The Techie and pick him up on the way. We took a short detour via town first to get The AV/VC Techie. I had been to the staff house that Techie was staying in before, but I couldn’t fully remember the way, so Architect said we would give directions. We were about 100m away from house, which is situated in a one-way, which was about 50m ahead of us on the right, when The Architect called out “Right, turn Right now!”. The Namibian who was driving at the time, our driver didn’t arrive, suddenly turned right. Almost into a Traffic Officer on his Motorbike. Almost hitting the Traffic Officer on his Motorbike, who was the front rider to a motorcade or 2 Black Volvos! With Flags on them! FUCK!
We backed up immediately. Well, the copper definitely wasn’t very chuffed at all. Firstly, he almost shat when the Namibian hit him, and secondly he was fuming when he got off his bike. He stormed over to us and started shouting at us in Porra. Well, we don’t speak Porra and said so. He wanted The Namibians License, which he duly handed over. Then he wanted the vehicle papers and we handed over what we could. It is a bit of a mess in the glove box and all the papers are all tattered and old in an old envelope. He looked at them and grabbed what he could get hold of and told us to follow him. Which we did. We followed him into the city and stopped outside the a building where the other vehicles of the motorcade were. The building was the CNE. Comissão Nacional Eleitoral. The National Electoral Commission. And we had almost hit their motorcade. We were sooo fucked now! 🙁 The cop called The Namibian out, I followed but was directed to stay in the car. I returned and The Namibian was escorted inside the gates. The property has slatted wooden fencing on the street front, through which you can see the movement of people inside. Not very safe for a big wig I must say. Out vehicle was stopped on the right-hand side of the road 5 metres up from the building, so we could see the goings on. The next thing we were all called inside.
There were about 15 guys here all in suits and all looking at us very gravely. We stated we don’t speak Portuguese and asked if anyone speaks English, where to our amazement, we found out that no-one spoke English. No-one here with all these guys in suits and could speak English? That is very, very surprising. Even our guards at the house understand a bit of English, and most people will help out if they can’t speak it. So 15 guys, who work for am official of sorts DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH?? Right. The one guy who appeared to have assumed control was very disapproving and kept shaking his head, with a very stern look his face.
The Namibian had already called The Girlfriend, a local, who spoke the language. She had been speaking to the copper, and now he passed the phone back to her. His take on this was that we had just made an attempt on the President of the CNE! Haha, legend! Well, at the time it wasn’t that funny. This was ridiculous. He informed his girlfriend of this and she spoke to the copper again. He stuck by his story. Us . . . 4 guys, 2 in baggies, 2 in jeans, 2 with caps on, none speaking Porra, driving a hire car 4×4, not fully aware of our way around the city, one with a local girlfriend, all profusively apologetic! What a joke. And what a bunch of morons for thinking that! Around about now they kicked the 3 of us out, and told us to go back to the car . . . with the keys! What the hell? Yeah, you let assassins go back to the car with the keys? Right. Shortly afterward we got into the car, a guy ran out, whom I think was the driver of the one car, looked at us and mimed handcuffs on our wrists. That was when I laughed. I still can’t tell if it was a nervous laugh or a truly, this is funny, laugh. I got a call from The Girlfriend said that she had called her brother, The Shipper, who just happened to be in country and that he was on his way around to help out.
I gave The Namibian a call and he answered. We had a chat about what was going on and he told me that they did speak English as the one guy had told him he could take a seat, in English. When he questioned the guy about his English, he suddenly switched back to Porra. The 3 of us sat in the car and got chatting about our predicament. We didn’t think we were really in that much trouble as we wouldn’t be in the car with the keys if we were. If they suspected anything, we would be inside with guys going the car, and us in cuffs already. We also wouldn’t be allowed to make calls on our mobile, and The Namibian definitely wouldn’t be allowed to make or receive calls. I did comment that we were lucky it wasn’t The President’s motorcade we had almost run into as if it was, one of the many, many armed guards would have shot us already, onsite! They don’t stuff around here. Also, it was noted that today was not the best of days to be almost bumping into the President of the CNE. We considered contacting The Architect and AV/VC Techie’s company’s security department and ask them for help, but that would only get us, and likely them in serious shit as there was a ruling that they weren’t really supposed to be out and about today. The fallout from that call would be serious, and they would most likely be shipped home for ignoring and breaking company security policy. So I decided against going that route, unless really really necessary. Like handcuffs necessary.
The Shipper arrived and got chatting to The Namibian and the copper. Well, after much back and forth he came and informed us that it comes down to the following:
1) The driver of the car needs a note from the car hire company in Angola to drive the car.
2) The company who the driver works for needs to issue a letter allowing the driver to drive the car.
3) Today was the wrong day to be doing any of this. Election Day. The FIRST true elections in 16 years or so. Bad day to be running into the President of the CNE.
As all 3 points were against us, the driver was looking at jail time. He would need to be taken downtown, booked and arrested. The car would be impounded and then that was a mission of paperwork to get it out. The car hire company would need to come to get the vehicle out and we would have to pay a fine – a large, hefty fine – to get the driver and the car out.
Alternatively, we could just sort things out here . . . ah-ha Welcome to Africa!
Show me the MONEY!!
There was a catch . . . there were 7, yes, SEVEN guys in the mix! The 2 cops, the 2 drivers, a few security guys, etc, etc, etc. Fuck me! So now we got counting. The Architect pulled his cash out and tried to pass it to me, sitting in driver’s seat. “Whoa dude, keep your cash down” I said, pushing his hand down. You don’t blatantly show your cash in these situations. Well, we had about $500 in mixed currency on us, and The Namibian reckon he had about $130 or so in US. So about $630. Hmmm, not enough. They wanted $700. $100 a piece. Man what a RIP! So, we called The Big Zimbo back at the house and asked to stand with a little extra cash that we could pick up. The Shipper returned and advised us that now it was $1000! WTF!!! Well, now the others weren’t happy, and wanted more in case someone mentioned something and reported them. What we would never do that . . . willingly! 🙂
So we made a plan. There was more cash at the house as that is where The Zimbo’s were, and they had cash on them. Okay, The Shipper had organised for us to go get more cash. The copper held our papers and we drove off to organise. We stopped off to get The Techie, the original plan, and continued on to the house, where we got the cash together and The Shipper and his mate returned to the copper and shortly returned back with all our papers and The Namibian’s licence. Fantastic. They informed us that the Angolan cops here were just plain unfair and had previously put The Shipper’s mate in jail for the night as he had left his licence at home when he was stopped. Crazy huh?
So we got about getting the fire going. Ahhhh . . . . No Carvao! After all that. Still no carvao. We decided to go look for some in the hood, and were about to get in the car AGAIN, when I asked our guard if he could organise. A few minutes later there was some random at the gate, and he said he could organise. So we sent him off to go get 5 bags of carvao, a case of Cristal cervesa and garaf of Vodka. Well he returned empty handed stating he needed the cash first, so The Namibian and I ventured off with him, thinking it was just down the road. Well 15 minutes later we were still walking, through the hood. An hour later we returned to the house, on foot, carrying 10 bags of carvao, a case of Cristal and a garaf of Johnny Red. At least we learnt where to get all the things we need afterhours, should we run out again! 🙂
So, the braai proceeded and we al got a bit wrecked, me waking up in the early hours of the morning, still fully clothed! What a night!
Easy Going Guy 😉
Loving Not Being In Jail! 🙂
organise carvao, booze, walked a good few kms
I am Meyyappan .I am from India,presently working in the Middle East –UAE– for oil and Gas company.I wanted to know about Angola and was looking for wb information while I bumped into your blog.
I am looking for a rotation al job and landed up contacting an Eurpean contracting company.They have informed me about a potentail opportunity—in control systems specialist foreman position in an oofshore FPSO off Angola.
It will be helpful if you can give some idea regarding th work conditions there /salary ranges in FPSO off Angola? what is the tax structure there?
Thanks in advance.
I am an Angolan living in the UK. After many years I am heading back to Angola. Fearfull ( a little bit) Hopeful ( of good oportunities) and know in advance the dificulties ahead. Is good to read your posts and be iluminated and made to laugh. Keep it alive.
Man what a story ! But it looks looks the every day thing of africa.
LoL – I would have paid good money to have seen that. In fact, come to think of it, I’d have paid even more money to see you all in handcuffs! You reprobates.
Do you think they’d do it retrospectively?