It’s easy- Paris in spring, New England in fall, New Jersey between the tire fires (Hi Mike!). But how do you fall in love with a country that has been completely devastated by civil war, doesn’t speak your language, and does everything in it’s power to keep you from visiting? Well, welcome to Angola.
You’ve already read about the hassles I went through to even get into the country. Then, once there, the scenes of destruction- bullet riddled buildings, roads beyond any hope of recovery, a countryside littered with mines… It all sounds so hopeless.
There could be nothing further from the truth. Angola is a country filled with more honest hope and potential than any other I’ve seen in Africa. Their civil war was terrible, but it was political and largely a byproduct of the cold war- it didn’t have the same tribal (racial) dimensions that have plagued countries throughout Africa so, with the end of hostilities, it’s been much easier for the population to reintegrate. It’s not the government rebuilding of the country’s infrastructure that gives hope- it’s the simple people painting their houses. If you don’t have hope for a stable future, you won’t waste time and money painting a house that could be destroyed at any time. Everywhere in Angola you see rebuilding- not unfinished projects or construction sites, but real rebuilding with people fixing, improving, and beautifying things.
People being house proud.
Add that to a country of unsurpassed natural beauty…
Then, you add the Angolans themselves.
I just can’t get them. They went through one of the most brutal civil wars man has ever seen- name an atrocity- any kind of depredation that man is capable of, and the people of Angola have suffered it. Yet, they are some of the most friendly, joyous, open people I’ve met… Is it any wonder I get all warm and gooey when I think about the country?