Thursday, August 31, 2006

In Lobito- finally!

I have finally arrived in Lobito, the city where I will be spending the next year. Getting here was interesting. The domestic airport in Luanda looks rather like a bus terminal. In true Soviet style, you must pass through several checkpoints before getting on the plane. There is the checkpoint to go to the ticket counter; the checkpoint at the ticket counter; the immigration check point (yes, even domestic travel requires immigration paperwork); the checkpoint to get the bus to the plane; the checkpoint to identify your luggage before they load it; and, finally, the checkpoint to get on the plane. The Lobito airport is really just an air control tower and a table set up outside for- you guessed it!- another checkpoint.

I haven’t had much time to explore yet- I arrived late afternoon on Tuesday and went to work at 8 the next morning. I am staying at a hotel until my apartment is ready. They said it would be ready by Friday, but after looking at it yesterday, I highly doubt it. The apartment itself is nice, but currently filthy and lacking any appliances I would need (fridge, stove, etc.). I will be living in the bairro of Restinga, which is the most upscale neighborhood of Lobito. Restinga is on a peninsula of sorts: the ocean in on one side, and the bay/port is on the other. I think upscale in Luanda would follow most Westerners’ perception of upscale- but not in Lobito. Some of the houses are quite nice, but not so luxurious looking (except maybe the ex-pat oil workers’ houses). The building my apartment is in would be in the worst ghetto if it were in the US- here it is quite nice. The best thing about my apartment is the view from the veranda. I am on a 5th floor walk-up (I don’t know how I’m going to get my luggage up the stairs!), and have a great view of the bay, ocean, and my rich neighbor’s house. Should make for some good spying!

This Saturday is Lobito Day. Supposedly the President is coming, which should be interesting. The entertainment in Lobito is provided by relotes, little shacks that have a few tables and chairs set up, serve food and open up a little dance floor. Right before I arrived the government shut dozens of them down and in their place put up signs that say “Lobito is a city that likes cleanliness.” (This, of course, in a city where you have roaming packs of goats that eat the trash.) Many people think this was done in anticipation of the President’s visit. A coworker doesn’t think he is coming, because they would have fixed the potholes (crevasses, really) in the streets where the celebration will be held. We shall see!

1 comment:

sir_chancelot said...

Leslie, this is a great blog. I will read it everyday. Even if you don't post everyday, I will re-read all the others posts. Please send photos of the goats.
-from someone who is not your sister