Angola – Luanda
On the way to Luanda near Ambriz, we met an army guy who was patiently waiting at the roadside and his car was lodged in a ditch off the side of the road. When we asked him what happened he told us that a large Chinese driven truck had been speeding in the opposite direction but in a way that took up most of the road, the army guy had to swerve out of the way avoiding a more serious accident and ended up getting stuck in the ditch. As I was about to get the tow ropes out of Maggie some of his army colleagues arrived in a heavy duty JCB and with the use of the crane managed to pull him out of the ditch with the help of a few us pushing the vehicle from behind. He was very happy once his vehicle was out and started up first time.
After driving on some fairly good graded dirt roads we then hit a stretch of 100km of absolute crap which meant very slow driving and even though the pictures don’t really show it the pot holes made for an uncomfortable 3 hours of manoeuvring round these holes. It was pure elation to see a sign for Luanda followed by a recently tarred road with no holes that meant the drive was good again.
Initially the road into Luanda reminded me of Accra in as much that such a big city is overloaded with vehicles stuck in traffic jams due to the lack of foresight by the original city planners. On the outskirts of Luanda there were some very poor areas which could be described as a shanty town and an hour of slowly moving into the city we were able to drive to the centre where we stopped to walk around for a bit. On entering a small cafe we checked out the pricelist and quickly realised that ordering food here was not an option as a simple sandwich started at $20. All the cars around me were brand new and you could see that a lot of cash was floating around the city.
We then went in search of some cheap food and somewhere to sleep that night. We drove along a small narrow strip along the coast called Ilha where we were told at the very end of this strip we would find some reasonably priced food. It was fairly easy to find and when you arrive there you are greeted by the smell of grilled food and hundreds of small little shacks by the beach where people are rustling up some tasty meals.
A lot of locals were already sat at various tables, some tucking into giant plates of fish/crabs and others drinking a lot of booze. We found one lady that could speak English and her speciality was grilled squid, she like all other places we asked charged $20 a plate so Reka and I shared a plate.
Although it took a while to come I have to say it was by far the best squid I have ever tasted, very unlike some of the rubbery stuff I have tasted in the UK, this was a joy to eat. The owner also told us that if we didn’t find any place to sleep that night, we could always camp outside her shack, it was a nice offer and a good backup although the sort of area where the music was loud and sleeping would be difficult.
We couldn’t find a decently priced hotel anywhere near this place and as the sun was setting we drove into the nearby communal park. There we were shown the local water patrol police station (inside the park) near the harbour and we enquired to a local guard if it were possible to camp outside their station. It was quiet and secluded and very safe! The guard who spoke good English enquired to his boss. His boss then brought out another guy (the bosses boss) to come and meet us and look at the vehicle, he then brought had to bring out the stations commandant to meet us, walk around on the phone to some big chief and chose a spot where we could finally rest. I have to say that even though it was a comedy moment meeting every chief in the harbour police we were treated really nicely by every policeman that we met there, they allowed us to use their showers and toilets normally reserved for staff and they even offered to provide a guard to walk with us when we left the park to walk around the area that evening, so highly recommended if you want a nice place to camp when in Luanda!