Monday, November 1, 2010

Out of Luanda

This was a very emotional send off. At 10:00, I positioned Papy Jovial
at the fuel dock, just beneath the building of the Clube Naval and its
restaurant. First, there were interviews with the local media, around a
table in the Clube with some of the important people of Luanda
attending. While all that was going on, the sailing school attached to
the club was putting out all their dinghies, Laser, 420, Vauriens, to
provide an escort on our way out.
As we cast off the lines, the members of the Club who had gathered on
the balcony of the restaurant gave us a big hand and cheered us as we
were sailing off under spinnaker. (or gennaker to be precise). And all
the way until the exit of the bay where the port of Luanda is located,
we had all those dinghies around us, competing to be the closest to us,
all with spinnaker up, and providing us with a fantastic show. And then,
there were still three boats belonging to the Brotherhood of the Coast
of Angola, sailing along with us on their way to their base at Mussolo.
So far, this is the most impressive welcome and send off that I have
seen of all the various brotherhoods that I have visited. Well done Angola !
Among the things that the brothers of South Africa and those of Angola
have in common is their involvement in teaching under privileged young
kids to sail. In South Africa, I visited the sailing school ran by Koos
Louw and Manuel Mendes. In Luanda, the Clube Naval includes a sailing
school and the members of the table are very much involved in its
running. Wonderful to see in action what means "sharing their love of
the sea".

As far as the country is concerned, I don't have much to say since we
only saw a small portion of the city of Luanda. Most of what I now know
about it, I got it through hear/say, and you might get a better idea by
visiting Wikipedia or the CIA factbook. What we have seen is a city
planned for 800,000 thousand people but actually housing 5 or 6
millions. Everything is under construction, and the infrastructure
obviously, is not able to cope with all those people and all those cars.
What I found remarkable is the coolness with which everybody is taking
in that mess. I have not seen anybody lose their cool, I have not seen
any bender fender, although traffic lights don't work (yet) and there is
gridlock most of the time. I believe that the average speed of any car
in the city must be around 1 to 1.5 mph. So much so that many people
with a few cars in their garage are opting to travel on a motorcycle to
beat the traffic.

Angola right now is certainly a difficult country to live in as it is
engaged in rebuilding itself after the war. But the welcome and the help
constantly coming from the members of the Club and the brothers did
make my stay one of the best I've had during this voyage.

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