ANGOLA- CERVEJA OBRIGADO!
You only have to know these two words to have locals crack a broad smile and even hard ass police officials won’t be able to keep a straight face. Beer and Thank You are the Portuguese words you need to know when visiting Angola.
The last time I visited Angola was more an off road ride, this time round it is to show Elsebie, Harold and Linda this wonderful country and to try and mix it up with some of the locals. Angola and its people really have a way of creeping into your heart.
But Angola is a fickle mistress! This time she gave me a hard time coming close. Let me give you the absurd before I get to the good stuff. We were supposed to enter Angola at Ruacana but the more we talked to the locals at Ruacana that used the route to Cahama, the more we were advised to stay away and use the main border. It’s the rainy season and the roads are so bad that we won’t be able to get to Cahama in a day. So we crossed at Oshikango, the only major border between Angola and Namibia. Major bloody mistake!!!!!!
We gave the Angolan embassy in SA the “Letters of invitation “Jose Sends to us for the issue of the visa. Now these numbskulls at the border wanted a copy of it! How in hell must we get them now!?
We tried to explain but the officials, who could quote from their system the name of the person who issued our invitation, but still they would have none of us. In the end a local fixer sitting behind us under the tree said he will go fetch the fax on the Namibian side at Nedbank. Thanks to Moses, who helped us the rest of the way, his fee of about US$40 and 6 hours later we entered Angola!
The border officials also did know what a Carne-de-passage is, nor an International driver’s license and topped it off by telling Linda not to sit on a bench that is under the tree as it is only for officials!
This fickle mistress Angola had my moer deep into the red and it was bloody 40C outside. Angola is not a tourist friendly country. The bureaucracy is mind boggling and the communism shows through now and then. Sounds stupid but that is why we are drawn to these countries, a lot less rules and still not besiege by tourist, you get to taste the local flavour of the country. It is damn expensive to stay in lodges or B&B’s and restaurants are equally expensive, at least beer and petrol are cheaper than in SA.
Our destination was Lubango the place of Jose the man that fought against us South Africans in the border war and the oke that entertained us 3 years ago on our Foz du Cunene trip. We were greeted by Jose at his restaurant (under renovations currently) with a huge smile although he only placed me about two days later due to the long hair. We were planning a trip to Namibe for a stay over, instead Jose would have none of that. He escorted us to Namibe for a day trip and that evening arranged a braai and entertainment by the old band that performed for us on our previous trip. Josef the Louis Armstrong look-a-like wood saw artist, Jose – a Johan Stemmet look-a-like bass guitar player and Nando – Al Debo look-a-like guitar player.
The generosity, warmth and friendliness of these Angolans know no bounds. We felt it everywhere we went. People do not look miserable and unhappy in fact they look quite content with their lives in this recovering country. Adults and kids wave to us, no stone throwing or outstretched hands– begging, so unlike the Himba and Lesotho kids. Maybe that is the trade mark of a tourist country versus a non-tourist country. They jump up and down with excitement when we wave back or stop for some photos.
Angola also features jaw-drop beautiful landscapes and now in summer it’s even more so. You can go from tropical to desert in 170km and the sea water temperature at Namibe is close to 25 degrees. I understand why so many people immigrate to this country even though it’s is hell hard to do business in Angola, even the locals have a saying “nothing in Angola is easy”.
After our party, which ended at only around 3am, we went to Jose’s beach spot just north of the town at Bias dos Pipas, Namibe. It’s a colourful small little community that resembles Hentie’sBay (no shops though). Funny the water is hot but it is next to a desert, I always thought warm coastal water ensures a tropical landscape.
Jose and his family left at about 8pm for Lubango but we stayed behind to enjoy a night on the beach. How many places can you still park your bike on the beach and sleep there without a worry in the world. This place is a paradise, in fact, worth dealing with some of the bureaucratic nonsense,this country offers maybe even more free living than South Africa.