Day 54 - Angola
|Saturday, December 2, 2023: Welcome to Luanda, Angola. We were right on schedule, and were heading into the port just after sunrise. We had breakfast of muesli and French toast in the cabin, and then started packing our stuff for our morning tour.
|By 7:00 AM, we were docked, and there were tour buses lined up waiting on the pier for all of our shore-going passengers.
|Debbie noticed a disturbance in the water behind the boat, and with her zoomy camera, she was able to see fish splashing as they jumped near the surface of the water. Seagulls would occasionally dive down on them, but they weren't coming up with anything. The fish causing the disturbance must be pretty big.
|Closer toward us, we could see schools of fish swimming by the pier, ...
|... and when we zoomed in on those, they were indeed larger than we expected. We were excited at seeing fish in the water from the ship. It had only happened a handful of times so far on this cruise.
|There were folk dancers in colorful costumes near the gangway as we got off the ship.
|Our tour bus was very modern, with USB ports in the back of every seat. We like Angola!
|We were in an industrial part of the port, and there were welcome murals painted on the walls of the buildings that faced the sea.
|It was early on a Saturday morning, and the port was pretty deserted.
|We drove along Luanda Bay, in the area known as Marginal. There were poinciana trees with bright red blossoms growing in the green spaces around the city.
|Our bus stopped to take a photo of a church, but we headed toward the bay instead. The waterfront was beautiful, with palm trees and a wide walkway with plenty of room for walkers, runners, and cyclists. The only thing marring the scene was endless plastic trash along every inch of the shoreline.
|Here's the view looking toward the buildings of downtown.
|Just past the huge amount of floating trash, there were white wading birds hunting in the shallow waters. They were probably egrets.
|The sidewalks were a mix of black and gray cobblestones, confirming our theory that it is common throughout the former Portuguese colonies. We will be visiting one final former Portuguese colony on this trip, and then we will be publishing our paper.
|The church that we were supposed to be here for, Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, was back there just behind the trees. You can just make out the cross on a golden roof in the larger image.
|All five of the buses for this tour were traveling in a convoy, ...
|... with a police escort.
|We passed a shopping center at the base of the hill leading to the Fort of San Miguel, ...
|... which was our next stop. This street sign was most probably attached to a wall originally. September 17th is a national holiday in Angola. It was the birthday of their first president, Antonio Agostinho Neto. More about him later.
|Here's the entrance to Fort San Miguel, or Fortaleza de São Miguel in Portuguese. Isn't it beautiful?
|There were relief sculptures on both sides of the entrance. The one on the left represented the fight for independence from Portugal from 1961 to 1974, ...
|... and the one on the right represented the signing of the cease-fire agreement that ended the Angolan Civil War in 2002.
|On the inside of the entrance, there were beautiful murals made from mosaic tiles depicting Angola's struggle for freedom, ...
|... and its modern military.
|We saw a few bright red cotton bugs hiding under big stones near the entrance.
|The fort, built on a hill at the end of the bay, offered a tremendous view of the city. The domed building in the center is the National Bank of Angola, which we'll get a better look at later on the trip.
|Inside the courtyard, there were poinciana trees, ...
|... and this statue of Njinga Mbandi, a queen of the kingdoms of Ndongo and Matemba, who led troops that fought against Portuguese colonization in the mid-17th century.
|We had thirty minutes here, and many of our fellow tourists went inside the military museum, ...
|... but we stayed outside looking at the various pieces of military hardware on display. There were T-6 Texans, known as Harvards outside the United States, that were used by the Angolan Air Force, ...
|... and a collection of artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, and armored cars, ...
|... as well as huge guns mounted on rails that overlooked the walls of the fort.
|When our time at the fort was over, we headed back down the hill, past some buildings that had seen better days, and headed toward Cape Island.
|We passed ads for Cuca beer which is made here in Angola.
|These unfinished buildings were going to be fantastic once they were complete. We loved the shape of the nearest one.
|We saw people participating in a charity walk and they waved at us as our convoy of bright orange buses went by.
|As we drove up the peninsula, we passed lots of beach clubs and bars, ...
|... and lots of partially destroyed buildings as well. There was another street sign mounted on poles near this rubble. It probably came from one of the nearby buildings that had been torn down.
|The Cuca beer company seemed to provide all of the signs or storefronts on all of the little businesses that we saw.
|There were some very nice houses scattered around, ...
|... and, wow, a naval base.
|There were lots of these little convenience store-type shops, ...
|... intermixed with more upscale establishments. The sign reads "Fine Brewery," but we didn't know if that was advertising or if it was the name of the bar.
|There was a large homeless camp in this park. Check out the big pile of plastic bottles around the base of this tree.
|This was one of the few non-Cuca billboards that we saw.
|It seemed unusual to have both upscale and let's call them more modest establishments right next to each other.
|More Cuca beer advertising.
|This unpaved alley was the entrance to a densely packed area with more small stores and vendor stalls. Coca-Cola seemed to be another vendor that provided signage and storefront materials.
|This house had the most amazing wooden wall running around its perimeter.
|These were the same style of walls that we've seen in other parts of Africa.
|Our buses stopped at the far end of the peninsula and we got out to explore the area.
|There were fewer people in this area and only a few stalls and vendors, but there were five buses of old people milling about.
|We walked over to the seawall to take in the view.
|We could see a large refinery across the bay, with lots of flare stacks burning away waste gases.
|Debbie helped a couple that was struggling to get a good selfie, ...
|... and then we walked over to the small beach on the ocean-side of the peninsula. There was one man swimming in the sheltered cove, apparently not bothered by all of the trash in the water.
|After our time was up, we headed back down the peninsula, passing bars with names like "Malibu Beach Club" and "Miami Beach."
|The wall on this club was very cool.
|Trash covered most of the beaches that we passed.
|It's amazing to see just what these women can carry on their heads. And it's always women. We've yet to see a man with a basket balanced on their head.
|We saw many pop-up stalls with beachwear for sale, ...
|... and some beaches that had been cleaned up more than others that we'd seen. There was even adorable playground equipment at this one.
|This section of beach had sunbeds under awnings, ...
|... and this one was setting up large speakers under one of the blue umbrellas closer to the water.
|There was a mountain of swept up trash at this beach.
|We still had a police escort for our little convoy, although it was a different one than we had started out with.
|Back at the entrance to the peninsula, we saw more Portuguese sidewalk, more decorative than what we had previously seen, plus an elaborate sand sculpture.
|Our next stop was at the António Agostinho Neto Mausoleum.
|His memorial was designed as a large obelisk, and was funded by Russia due to the Agostinho Neto's strong communist ties during his time as the first president of Angola. The monument was built by a North Korean construction company, further demonstrating how beloved Agostinho Neto was in the communist world.
|There was an elephant statue kneeling in the direction of the monument. It was flanked by a marble slab that had part of Agostinho Neto's wife Eugenia's speech from the dedication ceremony for the memorial.
|It is a very impressive monument, standing 393 feet tall. The grounds of the memorial were used for the most recent Angolan presidential inauguration. There have only been three presidents of Angola since they gained independence in 1975.
|The dome of the National Assembly building could be seen just outside the memorial complex.
|There was a large statue of Agostinho Neto that was integrated with the flagpole that flew the Angolan flag.
|While we waited on the bus for our fellow tourists to return, we watched as dozens of school kids ran out of the memorial, ...
|... and headed to the nearby bleachers to have their lunch. It was fun to see them laughing and comparing food with their friends, just like every other school kid ever on a school field trip.
|Leaving the memorial, we drove back down Avenue February 4th (named for the start of the Angolan War of Independence), past the National Police headquarters, ...
|... and past the Monument to the Unknown Soldier. It is a strikingly beautiful monument dedicated to all of those soldiers who fell in both the war for Angolan independence and the Angolan Civil War that followed immediately after.
|There was a lot of new construction going on in Luanda, with beautiful modern buildings being erected all over the city.
|We drove past the National Bank of Angola, which has a distinctive pink façade.
|Behind this older building containing the offices of Air Portugal loomed a modern apartment building with a cool oval-shaped tower.
|Back in the port, we saw a mimosa tree that was covered in thousands of seed pods.
|Back aboard Floating America (our term for whatever cruise ship we are currently on), we grabbed food from Distant Lands Asia and headed back to our cabin.
|LEGO Debbie and Tom had also spent the day exploring Fort San Miguel. You can tell from the shadows that the sun was directly overhead, something we never see at home.
|When it was time for sail out, ...
|... we got burgers and fries from the Dive-In, ...
|... and went out on our balcony to watch as the pier receded.
|As soon as we cleared our berth, the pilot boat came alongside to pick up their harbor pilot.
|We loved the bright colors of the MEO Sovereign 1. It is a firefighting ship, which is probably why it has such a distinctive paint scheme.
|This tanker was tied up to no fewer than eight buoys. They definitely didn't want it going anywhere.
|The cliffs surrouding Luanda Bay were beautiful.
|A yacht when by, and most of the passengers aboard had their cell phones out and aimed at us.
|We plowed our way through more ocean trash. There was a little bit of everything floating in the water. Bags, cans, bottles, paper. We even saw a pump soap dispenser go by.
|There were lots of ship at anchor just outside the harbor, ...
|... including another MEO Sovereign firefighting ship.
|We always love to see container ships. This one had lots of Maersk on it. There was a small boat between us and them. Let's zoom in.
|It was anchored there, and looked like they had large slabs of wood for cargo. Salvaging floating trash, maybe?
|Look at all of that gorgeous coastline. It reminded us of the White Cliffs of Dover.
|Once it got dark, we headed up to the Lido Market to get dessert, and then settled into our cabin for the night.
|Just before we went to sleep, we saw the moon rising behind us. It had a kind of orange glow that was very beautiful to see.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy