Sunday, July 25, 2004

Luanda, Angola

A week in Luanda was an interesting experience. A couple of years after the end of a 30 year civil war, I was surprised to see so many new and expensive vehicles on the road. It would appear that mobility and the status symbol of shiny wheels are very important. The city is a huge sprawl with the original colonial center still maintaining a Portugese look. Needless to say, the government buildings are immaculate, commercial buildings are sordid and the slums are slums.

The people are friendly and appear to have survived the civil war in a reasonably good frame of mind. But the reminders of the war are there - too many handicapped beggars at the road junctions. Land mines continue to be a problem in the countryside, which largely explains why so many people (I heard 5 million) now call the caiptal home.

I have to say that I was pleased to board the 'plane on Saturday evening. Luanda was interesting but also depressing. . . .