Saturday, February 27, 2010

Family Weekend Trip

I got to go on a nice family trip with the Embassy family I have been living behind (in their annex) for my time in Luanda. Other than their daughter being tossed by a huge wave and scraping the top layer of a good deal of her hip, the trip was really nice. We went to the beach and on the way got to see an impressive overlook point that resembles the moon's surface.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A lil info bout Angola

From Wikipedia:

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola (Portuguese: República de Angola, pronounced [ʁɛˈpublikɐ dɨ ɐ̃ˈɡɔlɐ]; Kongo: Repubilika ya Ngola), is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean. The exclave province of Cabinda has a border with the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Angola was a Portuguese overseas territory from the 16th century to 1975. After independence, Angola was the scene of an intense civil war from 1975 to 2002. The country is the second-largest petroleum and diamond producer in sub-Saharan Africa; however, its life expectancy and infant mortality rates are both among the worst ranked in the world. In August 2006, a peace treaty was signed with a faction of the FLEC, a separatist guerrilla group from the Cabinda exclave in the North, which is still active. About 65% of Angola's oil comes from that region.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Casa Luanda

So, after arriving in Luanda, I was taken to my new digs for the next two weeks: an annex behind the English Program Coordinator's house. There are two rooms and a bathroom with shower. They had all this furniture delivered and I should have recorded the guys trying to get everything up the flight of narrow spiral stairs. They stuck a fridge, microwave, desk, chair, and even carried an unnecessary chest of drawers up there after I told them there was no space. Then they had to bring it back down. There is an aircon there too.
view of the houses next door from the spiral stairs of my temporary housing

Traffic In Luanda

When I got to Luanda, I waited for my bags but they didn't come. I then waited 40 minutes for the helper lady to interview each person whose bags were missing. I was last. When she got to me and looked at my tags, she immediately said that she had my bags in the back. Apparently they had arrived before me. I don't know how that happened. Anyway, I got my three bags and my roll-y carry on and headed out to meet the Embassy folks who were picking me up. I called the Marines at the Embassy the day before announcing that I was going to be a day late but they did not give the message to the right people so, no one was there to meet me. I waited for 30 minutes and after that asked the lady with the nicest face if I could use her phone to call. After talking to the English Program Coordinator, they arrived to get me maybe 30 minutes later.

Before leaving the parking lot, the driver had a small altercation with a traffic officer. The little scrub officer said the car was not allowed to stop in front of the handicap spaces to let the woman who came to pick me up from the airport out. Bull#$%@. Well, it was a short squabble, the Embassy driver got his license back and the scrub officer just walked off the airport property like he was going home.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Traveling to Angola or How to spend 12 hours in the Charlotte Airport

I arrived at Charlotte Douglass International Airport at around 11. Here's the short of a long story:
  1. I checked in and went to wait at the gate
  2. I saw that the plane was delayed due to scheduled maintenance
  3. The agent kept telling is to stay near to the gate in case the plane was finished early
  4. That never happened and she finally told us (after an hour of waiting) that the fligh was cancelled
  5. I booked it over to customer service where I was told I needed to go to the check in counter (where I had arrived hours earlier) but must first grab my bags from baggage claim. They wouldn't reroute me without the bags
  6. I got to customer service, but not the international desk. The woman told me I would need to move and I think my tired eyes made her change her mind and she decided to help me where I was. Everyone else on the cancelled fight had to walk down to another check in desk 150m away.
  7. I waited about an hour and 15 minutes to get checked into my new flight, mostly because I had been charged for an extra bag as well as for some extra lbs in one bag, but that charge had to be cancelled and recharged using the new airline's regulations. I didn't care how long I had to wait, though. I saved 200 USD! And I talked to the ladies helping me about what exactly this LAD (Luanda) airport was. Not many people had heard of Angola before. Go figure!
  8. After a long flight from Charlotte to Frankfurt I went through security with a small bag carrying all of my camera equipment, ipod, speakers, external hard drives, computer, etc. The security lady was annoyed that she had to go through my stuff so in the end she just warned me that my bag might be too heavy and sent me away. I ignored her, packed up my stuff, and headed to the gate for the flight to Lisbon.
  9. Gate changed many times for Lisbon and I walked all over that airport trying to find out where exactly it was leaving from.
  10. As I walked to find my gate in the friggin huge airport in Frankfurt I asked a helper guy and come to find out he was from Guinea Bissau so he spoke to me in Portuguese. He was a nice old guy. I don't think he had spoken Portuguese in a while
  11. I did get to pick up some FREE newspapers in German to be used in my presentations once I got to Luanda
  12. Boarded the flight to Lisbon and slept the whole way
  13. In Lisbon I had to get my ticket to Luanda and I think I was the nicest person in the long line. Lots of flights had been late or canceled
  14. I must have walked for a good 25 minutes to the last gate at the Lisbon airport. I got there just in time to wait 5 hours for the flight.
  15. I caught up on Survivor episodes I hadn't seen and munched on Combos and Reese's Peanut Butter cups I bought back in Charlotte
  16. Boarded the plane and nearly slept the whole way. I don't even think I got to eat a meal.

Flying through clouds above Angola

Sunset before arriving in Luanda

First glimpse of Luanda