Thursday, 26 June 2008

Still number 1

I like stability...

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

My flat by the bay

View from the building’s west corner

The fire exit

I live in a nice apartment in the bay of Luanda. Without digressing on how many types of “nice” there could be, let me say that it is with pleasure and a sense of gratitude that I stay in an ugly, dirty and very noisy building often filled with very annoying smells, and with no organized condominium to clean it or otherwise take any form of care for it; in a flat with no electric water pump or functioning generator, with walls that have mould where paint used to be, with water infiltrations, a refrigerator that does not refrigerate, and a laundry machine whose door now demands that I heavily lay against it in order not to have the whole place flooded. And yet I like it, oh how I like it... I like that it’s big enough to have guests over. I like that I know a nice bunch of neighbours who will join me for a beer at practically anytime. I like that view from the building’s west corner, which is basically the Luanda Bay postcard from the 60s. And most sincerely, I like that I can walk to work, for sure the biggest of luxuries in this city. Oh, and wait… yes, I also like the rent. The flat currently costs 2500 USD per month plus utilities, paid in quarterly advances which I share with my housemate. I must tell you this is a very reasonable price in very reasonable advances for a 2 bedroom apartment in Luanda. So reasonable, in fact, that I have been living in constant fear of the day that has now arrived. The rent is suddenly 10000 USD per month. The sudden new occupant will pay one year in advance. And I have to suddenly find another place. Is this a crazy house market? Yes, this is obviously a crazy house market. Thinking of it, this must be the craziest house market I’ve ever seen. Now, the really, really crazy thing will actually be to find a landlord who is so out of his head that he has no clue as to the money his crappy flat is worth. And oh, what the heck, lets go Santa Claus on it; can I please have a place that isn’t 5 hours of traffic away?

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Creative cruelty



(pictures received by email)



Many cockroaches have died. They die every night, so that every next day I hope they’re all dead. But they’re not. The temporary solution is to never walk barefoot. Remember Indiana Jones in the dark cave with the blonde girl? It’s pretty much the same, and if the sound doesn’t bother me, feeling it on my gentle skin is a different story. The extermination method is however quite neat: it seems the poison works partly by contagion; since the bastards eat their fellow dead, the undigested poison sort of goes on killing. Creative, no? Changing topics, I deeply suspect that somebody is doing the same to container trucks in Luanda: they’re dropping like bugs, staying for hours on end with their wheels up, waiting for death to come. As I cannot yet tell when a truck has eaten one of its kind, these days I stay away from every truck I see.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


“Any of numerous oval, flat-bodied insects of the family Blattidae, including several species that are common household pests.” Sometimes looking at definitions has a reassuring feeling to it… not this time. The whole thing is getting slightly Kafkaesque: the day is not far when I come home after a day’s work, and find them cockroaches chilling on my sofa, watching TV and drinking beer, a number of their legs spread over the low glass table; going on to complain that I work too much, that we never talk, insisting that I please come and sit with them. It is getting out of control... They no longer stay in the kitchen, area that they have long ruled, and from which they enthusiastically persuaded me to stay away. They have now started to inhabit the toilet, the bedrooms and the living room. Indeed, I suspect that one of them is now a real estate agent, successfully promoting the kitchen suburbs; ”yeah, you have to commute, but look at the the neighbours are a completely different breed!”. The day is not far when they simply change the door lock, throw a party and ‘forget’ to invite me. The day is not far, unless the exterminator comes. He said he would come tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Or maybe I just missed the confusão

Game park near Lusaka, Zambia

Let me break the silence
Even if not inspired to write
Let me simply post an image
And on it comment despite

So, to Zambia I went
Some many weeks ago
To discover a neighbour land
And of it to let go

Things of similarity
And of difference I saw
More of the latter, I cry
And not without awe

They’re more organized, less fastidious
More courteous and polite
And what Angola lacks the most
Big African mammals on site

But no beautiful beaches to see
No kizomba, no semba to free
On these, I’ll write another day
A day with something to say

Friday, 16 November 2007

Unfortunate events

I thought of writing about unpleasant things that happened recently. I initially considered the kid in a motorcycle who bumped into my (parked) car, the cooler box which got ran over on the way to the beach, and the car accident we had on the way back, which threw us off-road, broke my car’s front axis, and made me forget all about the motorcycle kid and his bump. Nobody got hurt in these events, so it’s all unimportant, especially given the number of sad stories around, a couple of which took place afterwards. Two days ago, a friend of mine saw a kid being ran over by a car. It seems the kid ran into the street after stealing a mango... Last night, one of the street kids who randomly sleep in my building’s entrance was unconscious on the sidewalk. This is not, in itself, a very unusual sight, as several of these kids prefer to spend the money they earn on hard liqueur and drugs rather than food. My flatmate and her brother actually dragged him closer to the building, where the rain wouldn't reach him. This morning, as we left to go to work, the kid was in that same spot, covered with a white sheet, dead. People say it might have been the drinking or the drugs, or maybe disease or hunger. It was most likely some mix of these... In Cacuaco, northern Luanda, some mysterious disease has been spreading, and keeping specialists in the dark as to what it is. So far there are not many dead... This is indeed a land rich in sad stories.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


(photograph received by email)

Somebody I know has recently told me that she doesn’t remember ever having electricity, running water and a functioning telephone line at the same time. For the time I have been in Angola, I confess, I have been luckier than that. However, days there are, like the recent ones, when a random combination of those fail to apply. I have in the meantime developed my preferences: I now know I prefer water to electricity, and electricity to the telephone. Preferences aside, it was with suspicion that I realized the water had been gone for 2 days, especially since in my neighbourhood water tends to be much more of a companion that electricity is. Unlike many other times, however, the answer was this time easy to find. It was just, literally, around the corner from where I live. For the sake of my co-workers, I can only hope they fix it fast.