I got stuck in the capital of Angola, where I arrived on June 4th. I need to rent a vehicle or join a group to go to Kissama Game Park, Calandula Falls, Kwanza River, Miradouro de Lua which I want to see around Luanda. There is not any public transport. I just have to wait for the tour to be arranged on the weekend because it is not economically possible to rent a car.
The civil war, which lasted for 27 years and caused 500,000 people to die, was finished in 2002, but its tracks were not erased. It is trying to live with a very small but very rich minority and a very poor mass. I have seen so many luxury jeeps such as in the USA only. I see so many poor neighborhoods here. The tinned streets built on the garbage mountains are scattered all over Luanda. People are nervous, unhappy, desperate and worn. A poor and unemployed part can be dangerous. If you’re a lonely white woman, throw your pepper spray bottle into your pocket. No paranoia, just measure.
Luckily my friend’s house is in the city center and 50 meters from the street where the ministries are. The buildings in the city center are in bad condition. Because they are expensive, they are only used as offices and are not maintained. My friend’s office-house is one of them. I do not complain. The cheapest hotel you can stay here is 100 USD per night.
Some of the people, especially the Angolan men who work in the city, are very stylishly dressed, and there is absolutely a handkerchief in the pockets of their suit clothes. People are surprised to see that people whose clothes are fairly smooth come in and out of tin spaces in the garbage. The clothes here are also misleading. In fact, we need to look at how they live. The gates of the vehicles are always locked, while the jeeps are covered with film, they do not get out of the car when they have to stand and wait somewhere while quick shopping.
Luanda is the second most expensive city in the world after Tokyo. I paid a total of US $ 100 to the phone card I received at the airport and the taxi: “Welcome to Angola, unemployed powerless Rose.” The next day I am selling a much higher value of the money from street sellers called “black market” or “black street”.
This is why tourists do not come to Angola, only a few crazy and curious travelers come.
The castle (Forcas), Anthropology Museum, History Museum, Slave (Escravatura) Museum are places can be visit to spend time. Mussulu can be divided into a day for the sea-sand-sun trio.
The most affordable and decent hotel to stay at is the seaside Thomson House in peninsula and on the main street, the other side of the beach is the seafront. The rate is around 100 USD, including breakfast.
My host Miguel is talking about a Turkish friend who lives in Luanda. We communicate with Bedri. His father is Turkish, his mother is Portuguese. He drives by his car and picks me up and runs around the city. After eating at Del Mar on the other side of the peninsula, we go to the beach where boats go to Moussulu Island. Tomorrow I will go to Musulu and enjoy sea, sun and sand. Bedri gives all the necessary information and leaves it to work and goes to work. In conclusion, we check whether there is a group I can attend at the Thomson Hotel. The manager lady says she will come to the hotel a few days later. He gets my contact information and lets me get in touch with him.
Norwegian Knut took a break from work and came to Africa. He is a daredevil viking has been in Africa for 11 months, starting with Morocco on his journey, focusing on western African countries and finally passing through Nigeria and Congo to Angola. At one time, he worked in the army in health service, 37 years old and already saw more than 140 countries in his lifelong. I think he will have visited all countries by the age of 40. He pauses, turns around, saves money, goes out again. Because the Norwegian Kron is a valuable money, he can finance a year’s journey with the money that he earns for a few months. He does not worry about being unemployment when he return. When asked, “Which countries have you been?” He says “It is easier if I say do not have been to…”
On Friday we rent a car from Eco-Tour and go out of Luanda. After the monument and slavery museum, we go to Miradoura de Lua. Tile-colored rock formations have made this area on the road an attractive stop. We are moving to Kwanza River to have lunch at Kwanza Lodge. Kwanza Lodge is a small, calm and quality hotel, at the point where the river flows into the Atlantic Ocean. These types of businesses usually have Portuguese origins. Unfortunately, there are not many wildlife in this part of the river because illegal hunters have hunted and sold many animals, especially the crocodiles. Although Eco-Tur’s owner Paul made a gesture and was not on the program, the bot tour on the river.
I agree with the two-day tour organized by Eco-Tour on saturday. The group consists of two land rover. A Japanese couple, a family of four Americans, a Malaysian, a Nigerian, a South African, a Norwegian and a Turkish… Our drivers are South African and Angolan. They seem to be collecting the United Nations in Luanda and taking them to the picnic. But no one is a tourist, they are all foreigners working in oil companies. They are saying to Knut and me: “You have crazy courage.” Because I know that many of them do not get their noses out of their doors, they are right in one direction.
The day before our trip, a long note is sent to our mail boxes. There are some issues that we need to be aware of, that if we have to stop in the most interesting rural areas, we should not get away from the car. Because some of the mines placed during the civil war are not cleaned. Main roads are completely safe, but land mines are said to be.
Note: If you are in Luanda and do not have a car, I am sure you will want to contact Eco-Tour.
Paul’s phone 00 244 944 438200
LOBITO, BENGUELA, LUBANGO
When we are in the same direction as Knut, we decide to travel together until Namibia. It’s safer and more economical. I am very happy to be away from Luanda. I do not like it. I get cool down from the city after extort. It is nice to be back to roads again after 5 days in Lusaka, 5 days in Luanda.
The first stop is Lobito. We had bought tickets from AngoReal bus company on recommendation, but if we knew that it would stop every half an hour we would prefer Macron Executivo. We’re in Lobito 7 hours later. Having the second largest port after Luanda, Lobito is a small, charming city, but like Angola’s other cities it is neglected. If time is short, it can be passed directly to Benguela. We are going to HL Hotel Albergaria because Knut has already booked the hotel reservation required for visa application. We are tired, everyone goes to own room immediately. Hotel manager Fernanda is very helpful and friendly woman. She calls the bus companies for our next stop, she gets information, she calls the train station and learns the train schedule. We organize a small excursion in the city and tell where we can eat (although there is a restaurant at the hotel), where we can go, important buildings one by one. She is very hardworking and self-sacrificing like other women in Africa. She is a semi-Portuguese who sent her children to Portugal for education. After a while she also thinks that she should settle in Lisbon next to her children. Everybody in town knows her, everyone is joking and laughing all the time. Her friend we met on the beach also had a hotel. She is getting the prices. “Why don’t you stay at his hotel?It’s cheaper and at the sea side, plus boat trip is free” Knut is surprised: “Are you recommending his hotel even though you have your own hotel?” “We all have to earn in this city” says Fernanda. The next day we move to Transfforma Plaza. Right next to the sea there is a small motel, a nice restaurant with a sea view in the roof. I am eagerly asking for the boat. At least 5 people should be!
Nothing is more attractive in Lobito. After a rusty ship named Zaire placed in the city square and giving a little “Captain’s helmet” and Titanic poses, we are touring the city and the country through the colonial-era Portuguese architecture houses. The next day we go to Benguela, an hour away, with private minibuses (not chicken buses).
Despite the fact that Benguela’s country is one of the holiday towns, it needs care. The beaches in the city are white and stretch as far as you can, but unfortunately they are very dirty. For that reason, we prefer to tour in the city and enter the sea in Bai Azul, half an hour away the next day. Since we do not have public transportation, we keep taxis. The beach is great, soft like halva, the ocean is cool, there is no one but a few native families and a few kids. We are looking for a diving center to see under the sea, but there is no information on the internet nor does the public know about such a center.
Nancy’s English School Guesthouse in Benguela is owned by Nancy an American lady. Classrooms and rooms in a small campus are in the same area. Knut goes to the hotel again, who has paid for the visa application. At that hotel, the room rate is 16,000 kwanza. It is 7,500 kwanza in Nancy. Here the internet is paid, one our internet fee is 1,000 kwanza, daily access is 5,000 kwanza. The Guesthouse is very modest. Knut talks about beautiful Mil Cidades’s room, breakfast, pool and the internet is free.
While he enjoys the pool at his hotel and rests, I walk out to the shore from my modest room. The shoreline that palm trees decorate is very busy. At each corner there is a woman selling guava, avocado, watermelon, mandarin, orange, pineapple under each tree. They work from sunrise to sunset with their children they are tied to their backs.
I keep walking on the shore. When I see the craft workbenches, I get close. Angola hippies, colorful clothes, some with Jamaican hat, some with high-top fabric hat, some with dreadlocks hair. Those with sewing machines sew sandals with others. Most of the sandals are made from old tires and the others are made from cow leather. How nice to see a working man. I am going to slaughter Davud’s wounds, my companion bag who suffered the attack in Luanda. A solid stitch is being sought in the hand, Davud. The tailor is very serious, he never smiles, he does not talk, he does not. But the Congo (whose real name is Alberto) is curious to talk and learn something. He’s asking me hundreds of questions, and I’m telling him. This tiny Angolan hippy mixed bearded, dirty and stiff hair, and what he found on him, this weird Angolan speaks very good English, does philosophy, is very gentle and thoughtful; geography, history and knowledge of the country amazes me. He has been to Brazil and Portugal, then returned to Angola. I ask him to accompany me to the shoreline ship skeleton. It’s safer and more enjoyable. We are coming to an old concrete dock/pier, which is not currently used. His voices and faces are shaded when telling the slave-merchant vessels are approaching here and hundreds of thousands of Angolans to take to ships and bring them to America and Europe. He helps to find the best image points on the ship’s remains and concrete pier and take pictures. He’s talking to people sometime. They say we should not go to the next fisherman village. The ship’s skeleton usually acts as a boundary for me. These types of villages and neighborhoods have their own rules, their own laws, their own security. And obviously I will not accept. I’m hungry, sitting on the sand and looking at my bag. Two slices of bread, small package Turkish olive oil and Turkish flaked hot chilly pepper. I spread the olive oil over the slices of bread and add pepper on it. Yummy Turkish taste! The Congo is also buying fried dough from woman seller. I am having a picnic in Angola, which is not seen trustful at all, with an Angloan hippie who is not seen trustful at all on the beach that is soaked by the Atlantic Ocean that is not trustful. And in fact everything is so trustful. This is exactly what I mean by my travels!
When we go back to the countertops, one of the sellers is trying to sell me sandals. I tell her that I need the money to keep going. The Congo says, “Swap.” I take clothes and scarves from the bag, I give to the lady of the dealer. I get sandals on the other side. The woman is happy, the seller is happy because his wife is happy, I am the happiest.
The weather is dark, Congo throws Davut on his back and walked with me to Nancy’s English School Guesthouse. There is an English teacher, Jurileine, and I will attend classes at 6 in the evening and chat with the students. They want me to start the class in which the students from all ages are gathered together. I tell them where I work, how many years I have served the goverment, how I decide to leave my job, why I choose Africa, and give the word to them. The others are very shy except a few people. They’re afraid of making mistakes when talking on a foreign language, same as I’ve been scared once upon a time. Asking for their dreams of speaking them. I ask one by one, they have to talk. Hooray evil! The business man wants to settle in USA. One of the young man has no dream. One of the girls did not even think about it. I’m pushing. The 14-year-old boy wants to be a singer, says in the church choir, the accent is so beautiful that sometimes I do not understand. I am asking again. I try to show myself as an example and encourage myself. “Look, my English is not perfect, but I am traveling the world.” I tell people they are very understanding when they do not understand a conversation and should not hesitate to ask again and again. The dream of a girl who likes to talk is to marry and have children. I’m talking about Turkey. “Do you know where it is?” I ask. “Yes, we know,” they say. I say, “I have a gift to display on the map.” The girl who wants to get married and has children, runs to the map and finds Turkey. I give her a Turkish flag.
The next day we go to Macon bus company’s private terminal to go to Lubango which our last stop in Angola. We have a four-hour journey without stopping because it’s executivo. I am not surprised to see the Great Suleiman and Hurrem on Brazil TV channel. Angola does not have a movie and TV programming industry, entertainment such as food, clothing is also imported. Coffee, tea, toast free in the terminal. In addition, biscuits, waffles and fruit juice are served in a tiny box when you go to the bus. The seats are very spacious and very comfortable. We meet Bruno at the terminal who is an Anglo-based Portuguese who is lightweight, glasses, low-haired, speaking low-pitched. He was sitting in Lubango, accounting. Like everyone else, he is surprised when we tell we are in Angola trip. “How brave you both. Especially you are very brave Rose as a single woman” We say that what we do is very normal to us. He’s inviting us to stay at his house in Lubango. His wife and children in Portugal, the house is available. We accept, of course. We’re in the bus station. After the chicken buses, this comfort relaxes me right away. Bruno says, “Rose, we have a problem.” It reminds me a sentence in The Apollo 13 movie “Houston, we have a problem.” We are not in space, but sometimes Africa seems to be more like living in the space. He spoke with his wife and his wife did not let us stay at home. “If my wife was here, she would have invited you first, but she is worried that she is far away.” He is always very sorry to be embarrassed and apologizes many times. “Your wife is right, to be relieved to say that if I were in his place, I would not let two strangers stay in my house without me.” Actually I let it be. “I will put you in a proper, clean and beautiful hotel and I will pay for one night,” he says. We do not accept it, of course. We are staying at Pensao da Guida. Bruno has already paid for the first night, hidden from us.
The next morning we go to Hoque with Bruno and his friends. Here, a nun ensured that the girls who live in the streets are at home, cared for. From age 7 to 20, about 15 girls take supplies and clothing to help children. The children are welcoming us at the door with dancing and singing. The girls made rosa cake, rose-shaped cake. After we have handed in team aid and accompanied the dances, we leave the village. We go to Xyami Shopping Center for lunch. Bruno pay our launch fees also. During the conversation he asks Knut: “What will you do after you have traveled all over the world?” Knut: “Farming.” We both laugh: “You can never settle in one place.” Bruno and I also have the usual modest gardens we all know in our minds. Knut “I bought a little land beside my parent’s property. I will settle in there.” He showed the pics on his phone. What is this? My god! A charming Scandinavian house in the middle of a green, flowered hilltop overlooking the fjord. We did not expect that the land is spectacular. There is a huge difference between this land and the land that in Bruno’s and my mind. I can even settle down and wait for the parsley to grow in such a wonderful place.
After dinner we go to see Leba Road on Namibe way. This interesting path descending from the hill with a serpentine curving line runs from Lubongo to Namibe. Then we sink the sun in the Tundavala Valley. The image is exquisite. The last stop of the trip, which started worrying for me in Luanda, was magnificent. “We are not finished yet, I am going to take you one more place, you’ll love it, but I want you to see it quickly before dark” he says. La Chalet… A tiny house-café in the woods. And do you know which product is famous? Yoghurt… Typical Turkish food. Moreover, they add sugar as Kanlıca yoghurt in Istanbul. Apart from yogurt, cheese is also sold. Bruno wants to get food for bus trip tomorrow. We do not admit, he has two children study abroad. “Let me welcome you. In this little city I met two people who made my own dreams, let me do the whole thing.” Another road angel!
We go back to the hotel. Bruno comes back to drop me off at the terminal for the night bus. I will be at the Oshikango border crossing in the morning and I will pass to Namibia. Knut wants to sleep at the hotel one more night. There is another overnight trip at his next stop. “Two night trip is too much for me” he says. I am used to working both at night in Ankara and also because of long journeys in Africa. I think I got a working spirit. Miguel in Luanda said to me that I was like a soldier!