Day 269: Luanda House Party

26.09.09:

I woke up resoundingly NOT in Luanda. We hadn’t moved all night. Peter was nowhere to be seen. I was determined to get to Luanda by any means necessary. A 4×4 pull up and once again, I ran over to the driver to ask if he could take me to the next town. Get in, mate, no problem. The 4×4 took me all the way to the minibus area outside Luanda where I said my Thank You’s and jumped a mini bus the rest of the way. I arrived in Luanda at 11am, three days since I crossed the border.

Three days to go the same distance, which could’ve taken three hours had the road have been good, there were no checkpoints and the vehicle was remotely roadworthy.

I contacted Emilio, my CouchSurf contact, and he came to pick me up through Luanda’s perennially grid-locked traffic. The bus south leaves in the morning and Emilio was hosting a house party tonight, so I elected to stay for the night. It wasn’t too much of a difficult decision. I LOVE house parties.

Luanda is not an attractive city. Allied with the Soviet Union before the Fall of the Wall, Angola is a mess of concrete even when you don’t take into account that the civil conflict raged for 40 years, some say 500 years.

Emilio and I grabbed some lunch in the airport as it was close to his workplace. Angola is eye-wateringly expensive. It’s £10 for a sandwich. After lunch, I managed to download a couple of drivers that I needed to get my previously virus-ridden laptop back on track and then we headed over to Emilio’s flat. After sleeping on buses and trucks for three nights, the shower was more than welcome.

Emilio is a French guy who’s been living in Africa all his life. He grew up in Brazzaville, Congo, lived in Conakry, Guinea and even stayed in Cape Verde for a bit – talk about my least favourite places!! His knowledge of Africa is second-to-none and he works for a logistics network, pretty much like Alex and Michael in Kinshasa. Running logistics in Africa? Crikey! They’re madder than me.

The party was great. I met a stack of cool people and drank more than I possibly should have. I was just a little giddy at the prospect that in just a couple of days, I would be out of West and Central Africa. As Jake Shears once sang, it can’t come quickly enough.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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