Monday, 31 October 2011

The Alphabetical Tourist: Angola

Kalandula Waterfalls by Paulo Cesar Santos
After a break from my virtual wanderings whilst I was  on foreign shores anyway, I've now headed back to Africa for the second time in my virtual and indeed actual travelling life, courtesy of my trusty laptop.  Now the first thing that's grabbed me about Angola is it doesn't seem to be baking hot.  It experiences the type of phenomena that I don't really understand that's based on weather fronts from seaboards and mountainous regions clashing.  Maybe I should have paid more attention in geography lessons at school.   Anyway, this milder climate would suit me as I'm one of those people who finds roasting themselves on a baking hot beach highly unpleasant rather than a relaxing experience.  I'd rather have a breeze and do a bit of beach combing or wandering around admiring scenery in mountainous regions.

Taxi in Luanda by Paulo Cesar Santos
Angola is a fertile land which, in the days of Portuguese rule, was self sufficient in pretty much all major foodstuff except wheat and exported the usual stuff like bananas, coffee, cotton and tobacco.  However, during its civil war which ended in 2002, some clever clogs thought that the countryside was a much better place to plant landmines rather than useful and nutritional crops!  It seems that the agricultural industry is picking up again  although is slowed by the presence of unexploded devices.  Nobody wants to run the risk of having body parts blown off whilst tending their veg patch so the country is reliant on expensive imported food instead. Isn't that crazy?   The country should be a tourist magnet with its beautiful coastline, wonderful inland scenery and ten or eleven national parks. However these aren't yet teaming with the wildlife that they once were, though introduction of species  is afoot  During the war many animals were poached by ivory hunters, eaten by starving locals or blown up. Yes, you've guessed it, it's those mines again. White giraffe are  apparently particularly susceptible due to their anatomy.

Transportation of Oil Rig of Angolan Coast by Paulo Cesar Santos
Furthermore it's a place that's stuffed to the gunnels with rich mineral deposits, gold, diamonds and yes, the black stuff.  Rumour has it that it's the largest exporter of oil to  China and Luanda, its capital, is the most expensive place in the world for expatriates to live.   So why isn't the loot coming in being used to improve the infrastructure, clear mines, speed up environmental projects and up standards of healthcare and education that are some of the poorest in the world? Well, it is but progress is slow.   It doesn't come as a complete surprise that human rights and monetary organisations indicate that corruption is rife.  There seems to be more than a just few greedy individuals who are taking more their fair share who could do with a swift kick up the backside.

Plan of Typical Atlantic Slave Ship
Whilst  Foreign Office advice to tourists,whilst dissuading them completely from visiting Angola, doesn't exactly instill enough confidence to make the masses rush out and buy tickets.   Still the potential for growth is there, and it could be a poignant place for those of African descent to visit.  Of special interest as a place to start to learn from about black ancestry  is a museum near  Luanda which is  housed adjacent to a church, the Capela de Casa Grande. Here heathen natives were baptised before being put onto ships to be sold to those 'civilised' Christian owners in the Americas.    And once the government get their act in gear there's no reason why those national parks could again among the choices for foreign tourist looking for a safari type experience amid beautiful scenery.

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