Luanda Adventures 1

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Africa » Angola
December 1st 2006
Published: November 1st 2007
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It's hard to believe we've been here almost 3 months and are on the cusp of our first big vacation! Time has flown by very fast, which I suppose is a direct result of how busy we've been. So I figured it was a good time to send out an update and tell some stories of our exploits to date.

We finally moved into our house on October 28 after 7 weeks in a temporary guest house. It's funny as we meet people here, how many of them also stayed in that place! It's like it's a rite of passage here. It was perfectly adequate but not having a yard was getting old with Ozzy, the "devil dog". Also, there was a professional "party house" (really a patio) across the street which hosted events, usually with live VERY LOUD music, almost every Friday and Saturday night. Angolan parties usually go until dawn. It's amazing anyone has their hearing left here.

Now we have scads of space, even though it's vertically stacked! The kitchen, dining room, store room (probably originally a bedroom but turned into a huge pantry) and a bathroom are on the 1st floor, then a huge living
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Luanda Golf Club
room, L shaped, (the pool table will go there), a glassed in porch (Steve has visions of turning that into a bird aviary), a den, another bathroom, and a sun room (will be the exercise room) are on the second floor, 3 bedrooms and 3 baths are on the 3rd floor, and another 2 bedrooms (more like hobby/store rooms) and a large patio are on the 4th floor. Now that we're in the house, we are getting anxious to see our shipment, which supposively docked in Luanda yesterday to begin the 2-3 month process of getting through customs. I am most looking forward to my bed, my exercise equipment, and my kitchen stuff! Unfortunately it will probably be February or even March before it comes our way. Our neighborhood is very quiet, (most of our neighbors are embassies) and it is safe to walk around. Quite a change from our temporary quarters.

For entertainment we've settled into a routine now. I do a group social run every Tuesday which is one hour slow (for some people but fast for me!) running around the city. A bit like "dodge ball" at times with the cars, scooters and pedestrians but almost always interesting. There is another run on Fridays along the waterfront (other social events seem to interfere with that day far too often), and then the hash every other Saturday. Steve doesn't care for the group runs, preferring to go alone in the early mornings. Also the hash interferes with the English mass on Saturday evenings which he attends.

Most Sunday mornings (early - we leave by 630 AM to beat the heat!) a group gets together for mountain biking, and we usually ride about 18 miles. We ride from a local village over to a golf course which takes us on dirt roads and single track walking trails through fields and little villages. Sand is everywhere and is a challenge. A few weeks ago, I was able to have a colleague carry in some new wider, very stubby tires which has improved our traction. Even so, there are some days when I might fall 5 times in as many minutes in the deep stuff! We are now into the rainy season which is helping to pack down the sand and make the riding easier going. But all in all, it's a lot of fun, very challenging, and a fun group of people.

We typically head over to the beach on Sundays after the riding - a dip in the ocean after 2 and a half hours of riding is wonderful and it's a great way to relax! When our shipment comes, I'll have my road bike and be able to join a Saturday morning road bike group. We play tennis on some Saturdays but it is starting to rain more now which is interfering with that. There is also a local clubhouse and pool but we simply haven't found the spare time to enjoy it.

Saturday mornings are also spent "foraging" - that is, GROCERY SHOPPING. We actually have decent grocery stores - we can find a good supply of fruits, vegetables, and meat, all of decent quality. Many things are imported from South Africa. Finding condiments and spices in the dry goods area can be challenging and one learns to buy in quantity when a coveted item is found. I'm still searching for worchestire sauce but recently scored some taco seasoning which goes will with the corn tortillas I bought in Houston last month. It's hit and miss and you learn to make do with what you score. Some people spend half their life shopping but I don't have that luxury. We've found one big store that usually has 90% of what we want but it can be a brutal drive through heavy traffic so we don't really like to go there EVERY week. Several other smaller stores are right in our neighborhood and can often suffice when we're reasonably well stocked. Everything is very expensive, especially imported cleaning goods and paper products. A costco sized box of tide is $50 and I recently paid $15 for a box of dishwasher detergent. Another reason to look forward to the arrival of our shipment!

Our little 7 month old Tibetan Spaniel (Tibbie for short) Ozzy is almost at full size but still a puppy at heart. It's a breath of fresh air to come home and have someone absolutely delighted to see you! He is enjoying the freedom of having a yard to hang out in after being cooped up in a small apartment for so long. Chasing the king sized roaches that come out on the patio at night is a favorite pasttime! The cat (now approaching 11 years old) keeps him in line with regular swats and I'm sure Ozzy is grateful that she is declawed! Steve bought 2 African Grey parrots, Bonnie and Clyde, and they are beginning to vocalize most impressively. They both do wolf whistles, loud kissing noises and are starting to "bark". So even without Rachael here, we still have managed to acquire a menagerie which keeps us busy around the house.

Yesterday Ozzy provided us with a true African experience. We noticed he was chewing on his belly and paws and found some evil looking sores. Time for the vet! I called a friend, Carla, to find out the details of getting to the vet and it turned out she "had an appointment" for 2 PM. I decided to tag along. I arrived at about 2:15 and Carla was outside, waiting for the clinic to open (so much for the "appointment"). We decided to wait, because we were first in line. We hung around and watched the line grow to about 15 people and an assortment of dogs, some very large and mean looking. Right before 3 a fellow shows up with a large black lab/mastiff type dog. The doors open and the crowds rush in. Carla is at the counter and I quickly discover that being BEHIND her in line would not cut it - the man with the Mastiff is coming around me and THERE IS NO WAY I'm letting him in front of me. Time to defend my space by throwing out my elbows and moving to her side. I get my paperwork filled out and then am called into the examining room with Carla first. After her 2 dogs are taken care of, the vet looks at Ozzy and says they are "fleas". I think he really meant "flies" - his English is pretty spotty and my Portuguese is even worse. They are "Tumbu Flies" - the flies lay eggs on wet fabric, the dog lays on them, the larvae burrow into his skin and grow there. So the vet pulls 5 of the wiggling maggots out of him. The biggest are over a centimeter long and they are fat. At one point they're all lined up on the exam table, wiggling. Carla takes a look at them and says, "You know I really love this stuff, it's fascinating". Later that evening, I pulled 2 more out of him (the vet taught me how). I don't think its over yet. I think he got them off of a little rug that USED to be outside our back door. It is gone now. I also now have the number of a portuguese vet that supposively does house calls. That may be a better option in the future.

On December 7, we'll leave for our first vacation. First we're going to India, where we'll visit Delhi, the Taj Mahal, a tiger reserve, Jaipur, and Udaipur. On Dec 19 we fly to Bangkok, where Daryl will meet us. There we'll visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Chiang Mai in the North, Bangkok and spend 4 days on the beach. Dec 31 we fly to San Francisco and off to Sun Valley the next day to visit Rachael at her new place of employment. She is doing a 4 month internship there beginning in mid-December. On January 7 we begin the long journey (via London and Johannesburg) back to Luanda! After that adventure it will be time for another update!


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