Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Feliz 2007!

I am back in the office for the first time since the Friday before Christmas. I was a little bitter about being forced to take vacation days (in essence all the ones I've saved up until now!) but I have actually quite enjoyed my time off in Lobito.

Christmas was nice. Several colleagues/friends and I went to Mark and Domingas’ house for dinner. The keg of Cuca (Angolan beer, brewed down the road in Catumbela) left over from the office party provided us with hours of drinking, and the gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting and the Bogus cookies I made were a big hit. It was about 80 degrees F and I spent most of the day at the beach, so it didn’t quite feel like Christmas, but it was still nice. I was with friends, so that’s all I really needed.

New Year’s was quite the party. In general, Angolans love to party. The parties here start around midnight and last until 7 am the next morning. New Year’s was even more extreme. Those who can afford it buy tickets to two of the big organized parties in town: Ferrovia (the yachting “club” and party space) and Mateus Columbo (rich Angolan who throws a big party at his big house). The tickets aren’t cheap. As a woman I only had to spend US$90 for the party at Ferrovia, which lasts two nights; men had to pay US$100. I went with colleague friends and their various spouses. Arriving shortly after midnight, there still weren’t too many people there. By 3 am the place was absolutely packed. Apart from the good music and dancing, I had a great time because I realized that I am recognizing more and more people where I go, meaning that I am making friends. Amazing!

Slowly but surely, it got lighter and suddenly it was 6:30 am. The party was still raging, but we decided to go home. We had parked the cars at Juan’s house and walked (the bad traffic was even worse on New Year’s). Juan lives in front of the beach, and as we got there, we just sort of wandered to the beach, stripped down to our underwear and went for a swim. Suddenly, 6 of Juan’s neighbors were there with us. Another party! Finally around 9 a.m. I made it home and crashed for a few hours.

I recuperated on the beach near my house, which is normally vacant but was absolutely packed that day. I took another nap and headed out with friends Domingas and Maria Teresa for another night at the Ferrovia. The second night was much calmer, with fewer people who were drinking mostly water instead of whisky and beer like the night before. We ended up staying until only 5 am that night.

In all, I had a nice holiday season. It’s always sad to be away from family and good friends at this time of the year, but I spent it with friends here and had a great time. I really like Angola these days. Feeling good about my work and being here are all the Christmas presents I need right now.

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