Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fun Facts

...about Angola and Angolans 

Since I don't really speak the language properly, I can't give any final opinions about Angolans, all I can say for now is that the general theme seems to be pouty, non-interested and "what do you want" looks from people. Actually, it's like Russia 10 years ago (maybe still today, haven't been lately) when the lady sitting behind the glass refuses to sell stamps to you just because she doesn't feel like it today. Main post office of St Petersburg... 

That is to say that the people on the streets do not smile at you, do not respond to your happy "hello" and when you are holding the money at a coffee shop, they act like they are doing YOU a favour... Yeah, we've all been to places like these, mostly what they have in common is the communist history. 

Having said all that, the Angolans I have been introduced to are fun, open and generous. 

Once I learn enough of the language I'll know what people are saying behind my back, so I'll get back to you on this ; )

But here's a couple of new things I have learnt: 

Thumbs up! 

So, the local way of saying "thanks" in traffic, or saying hi on the street or basically any communication with anyone, you end up with "thumbs up", but one must remember to lift up the whole elbow while doing this! 

Domingos, the driver

I like it! So simple! Effective! 

Photos of people

There reason why I haven't posted more photos is simple: people really do not like you take photos of them in Luanda! And I really mean it! If I understood what they screamed at me I would tell you, but best left unknown. So, instead of whipping out my big SLR, I am now trying to figure out how to get my crappy camera on my phone to work. A good reason to invest into an iPhone. Anyone? Anyone? Anyway, I was told people get agitated and want huge amounts of money if you take a photo, lets say, of a building that they happen to be standing in front of, because they know the photo will be on internet soon. But they don't know what internet is. So, again, it comes down to money... 


And the lack of it. So, you might be in a restaurant, a shop, someone's house, wherever really when the electricity goes off. Everything goes black, aircon stops and people do not even blink nor change the subject. It's so normal. Electricity comes and goes. If you have your own generator you'll switch it on and everything goes back again. However, if you live in a cheaper accommodation in the city for instance and have no generator, cause they are not cheap, you might be without electricity for days! My boyfriends house has a generator, but I guess I am too new to all this because I actually gasp every single time the power cuts off! Kind of like when you are new to China and still notice things like people hawk-spitting in the street, that after a while you don't even notice.. 

Local landline

So, doesn't matter how prestigious, well-known or international the company is, no one ever picks up the landline number listed publicly. Never. We are talking about ministry numbers, foreign oil companies, diamond companies, ngo's etc. Unless you get a mobile number- forget it! No one will pick up your call! 

(I hope someone with an office in Angola reads this and will do something about this!) 

Moon rings 

I have never in my life seen this before: moon rings! Beautiful phenomenon! Actually, I had never even heard of it before, but there we have it! I have seen moon rings! Only once tough. I wanted to take photos, so I've been hunting for them ever since, but with no luck. I did search info about them, here's a small info package about them: 


Hmmm, after living in Beijing for so long, one would think a little dust is nothing, but this is something else... If you mix together the fine sand from the desert, pollution from the traffic and dust from the building-site called Luanda; you get this dirty air that goes everywhere- including your eyes! Since arrival I have had an eye infection six times already! No joke, always with sun glasses, windows of the car rolled up but none the less it gets everywhere! 

And now to my favourite subject: bugs under the skin! 

Look at the picture!!! That is MY finger with something inside laying eggs! apparently, it is too tiny for me to see, even when I popped it to squeeze it out and disinfect it! Eeeeeeeewww! Nasty! Also scary as an idea: bug laying eggs under your skin, all warm and cosy and when ready it will open up and millions and millions of baby bugs will sprawl about! 

My finger inhabited by new friends

I have no idea where it came from, probably beach somewhere, also I should note here that apparently it is not a big deal, it happens all the time, it's not dangerous and like my boyfriend's mom said when I finally understood it's not a splinter but a living thing (and started freaking out): "Ilona, relax, it's a bug, not a lion!" 
(must add that I managed to refrain myself from crying out that the most deadly animals are viruses that are so small that we can't even see them!) 

So there, I'll try to find out some fun facts like how many people die in Angola by falling coconuts and take photos of the colourful street life and voluminous women..