03.10.2007 - 03.10.2007 27 °C
Well the flight on what could only be described as "well used" aircraft went by quite quickly. I managed to get a seat beside a French guy with a sense of humour. So, we spent most of the trip taking the piss (much to the amusement of the air hostesses).
Fair credit must be given to the cabin crew here, they were polite and we actually got 'metal' forks & knives !!!!
Luanda beaconed and as we approach the runway I get my first sight of Luanda, Angola.
I've been to North Africa before so it looked pretty much as i expected for this heady height. the landing on a dust covered runway shared with the Angolan airforce came as no surprise. The plane pulls up near the terminal after waiting for what seems like an hour (only one runway and there are a few flight leaving as we have landed).
Now, I'd asked people at work about the place & was now glad i had taken their advice. Make sure i've got all my paperwork sorted out, something to read & a bottle of water - immigration was going to take a long time.
it's not that hot, but the humidity is getting up, and those damn bugs keep wanting to take a bite.
It was one of those days where every other line seems to be going faster than the one I was in. Three others who I was traveling with all were up the front of the line and being asked to goto the 'waiting area' (a fenced off zone for those waiting for visa's to be issued). 2hours later I am now a proud holder of a STV, allowing me to work for the next 15 days (i'll only be about 10 days onshore so this give's me 5 spare).
Outside in the baggage hall we meet the agent, this is a god send. the agent is responsibe for getting us through customs and to the office then to the hotel. Here one of the guy's finds out that his bags have not found their way to Luanda, seems they could be anywhere between Newcastle, London,Lisbon - another couple of hours waiting whilst the forms are filled in.
Once out, the reality of Luanda hit's us like a baseball bat to the head. it's only been about 5 years since the civil war finished and the aftermath of this is still very much in evidence. The building are in a state of, well it's hard to fathom just what you see.
We pile into the van, and the journey begins to the office. It's only two miles but takes 90mins. As we drive along there is a mass of street sellers walking in between the cars offering just about everything possible, from DVD's to gas regulators, the driver never gets out of 1st gear.
We arrive at the office to be informed that the road to the hotel has just re-opened. Seems there was a prison break a few days previously and there is still a few eventful things happening around the area.
Hopping back into the van we are informed that it will take a further 3hrs to get to the hotel. Now this is for a trip of only 5miles !!!
Yes, we made it !!! and what a contrast it's a lovely hotel in a gated compound. The poverty seen on the trip is the conversation of the night, it seem guilt has hit all of us when we reflect on the surroundings. But one note seems to break though, the people we saw on out 5hr trip to the hotel were smiling. There is redevelopment happening in Luanda, and slowly this may help those who are living in the slums a chance to get out.
It was quite an eye opener looking around Luanda, I wouldn't want to go without the agent present though - maybe in a few years.
Next stop, Soyo and the mighty Congo river.