Sunday, April 1, 2012
Lobito & Benguela, Angola
All the warnings were for nought. The Angolans were warm and friendly, and no one got mugged. Surely everyone in Lobito and Benguela knew that we were there. How could you miss us? First came the motorcycle with lights flashing, then transportation police car with flashing lights, and finally 3 large buses, with customs officers and Police protection on board. Before we boarded the buses, as we got off the ship we were greeted by boys scouts who gave us palms, today being Palm Sunday. We were whisked around the town of Lobito, much too fast to attempt much photography from the bus. Fort San Pedro, an old ruin was the first opportunity to get out and look around. The fort overlooks town, and a d we suspension bridge that the Angolans are very proud of. Driving to Benguela we passed a new international airport under construction, there was a tent city for the Chinese construction workers! The townships are shanties made of adobe, some with corrugated tin roofs held down by rocks. Between The 2 cities is an enormous stadium in the middle of nowhere. After a driving tour of Benguela we stopped in a large square, and there was drumming and African dancers. Very colorful. We took the train back to Lobito, an incredible experience. While most people elected the air conditioned modern cars, I chose the last car, which was built in 1929. The windows were all wide open and we were on leather seats behind the old dining car. There was an old cast iron stove at one end of the car. There were several private compartments, but the space we were in had an old built in desk. A table was in the center, and the seats were no fixed. You half expected Hercule Poirot to pop in and accuse one of us of murder. Whenever we passed a township all the children came out and waved. There was a street fair in Lobito with music and costumed African dancers. They were also giving away free cold beer. What a great place! The best local beer is Cuca, and it is great. All of this before lunch! I have stopped reading ahead in my itinerary, as I can barely keep up with what is happening at the moment.