Archive for February, 2012

home safe!

February 28, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

I just wanted to let you know that I’m home safe! This was quite an adventure. The last few days in Soyo and then back in Luanda were fine. Not much happened except for lots of work. The flights home were uneventful, except that I was surprised to find that the flight between London and Boston on American Airlines didn’t have those personal TVs on the backs of the seats! I read and played hang man with the six and thirteen year old girls sitting next to me. Their parents were pretty happy with me! : )

Love, Annie


February 21, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

The Title means “Tuesday” in Portuguese. I arrived in Soyo yesterday morning! Soyo is in the Zaire province of Angola. It’s on the Congo river, the border to DRC.

This picture was taken from the car in the downtown area.

I was pretty glad to leave Luanda, if only for a few days (I’m going back on Thursday). It’s a little (okay, a lot) easier to work here because it’s much less hectic. No traffic, and the hotel is much nicer. Even though there’s not too much walking around to be done, the hotel has an outside area. It’s actually pretty luxurious. I don’t think that river is the Congo river, it’s one of the things that stems off of it.

When I saw the river I was excited to tell you it was possible to look at another country from the hotel balcony but it’s not true.

It’s Carnival right now, so many of the stores are closed, which makes it pretty difficult for me to work. It’s okay because I managed to get a whole lot done yesterday. Also, I might be getting a little sick. Not belly sick but head cold, and really tired kind of sick.

Here’s a picture of the carnival.

This is just a zoom in to show some of the colors. There are a lot more people outside dancing than you can see in this picture. I was going to take more pictures and get up closer, but a police man gave me the no way stop right now look and shook his finger at me so I promptly went back to the hotel.

That’s it. Tomorrow I plan to make a lot of work related Skype phone calls to Luanda because it’s a good use of time.



Day Off Angola

February 19, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was my day off, and it was actually pretty pleasant. I slept late and then got a ride to a nicer hotel to hang out at their outdoor bar. The guy who drove me, Machinde, was really nice and seemed to be about my age.

I had the hotel arrange a driver for me as mine was not working today. Machinde must have been a relative of one of the hotel staff. He dropped me off at 12:30 and picked me up at 5. I had no idea how the bar was going to be but I had to get out of the hotel where I am staying. Luckily, the roof bar at this other hotel exceeded my expectations. I brought a bathing suit and tanned and read and drank wine all day. The pool was so clean I even went swimming!

Its Carnival time here, and today was the kids carnival. The grown-ups carnival is on Tuesday.

While it would be cool to witness, it’s probably good I’m not working in Luanda during grown-ups carnival time. In the first picture, the crowd is starting to build. I took it from the roof bar.

This second picture is from the afternoon, the dancing and crowd is way bigger than it looks in the picture, but I like the shadows here. They closed all the roads all around the hotel. I eventually got back to the hotel and read, and ate dinner. I’m leaving early in the morning for Soyo! Looking forward to it.



Saturday in Luanda

February 18, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was another full working day. It’s normal for me to work on Saturdays, but I’m pretty sure my driver was pissed off that we worked a full 9-5.

Given the two hours it took us to get to the first stop, an enormous supermarket, I’m pretty pleased at the amount of work I got done today. This was on the way to the supermarket. I actually felt more comfortable than I have felt yet here inside the supermarket.  It was more like a target. They had everything from Tabasco to Samsung TVs. Even though they didn’t take American Express, from inside the market I could have been anywhere and that was a nice escape.

After this first market, we went to another shopping area and it turned out to be like a Cosco! I didn’t get anything but did take some time to walk around and check it out.

Yesterday I noted some things here that there are a lot of. I forgot to mention the people selling things on the street. People are all over in the middle of the road selling all sorts of things. Just today, I saw, for example, spark plugs, fruits, calling cards, shampoo, fancy perfume, car tires, steering wheels, neon vests, and lawn chairs. A lot of people hang these things from their bodies or put things on their heads. The balancing it all is pretty amazing.

In my arrival security briefing, I was told not to buy any of these things because they may be stolen and if a policeman sees, it may be a good opportunity to get you and get some $$. This picture is also on the way to the market.

I also went to check out a five star hotel today. It was totally empty and the lowest rooms start at 500+ dollars a night. Thought that was interesting. The staff wasn’t even nice.

Not many people speak english here, so I’m having a hard time with the language  barrier. The word that came up most today was “fechado,” which means “closed.” A lot of the places I needed to go today were fechado.

This last picture is from a nicer area downtown. I’m trying to figure out what to do tomorrow. The only thing planned is to sleep as late as possible.

At this time next week, I’ll be at the airport waiting for my flight to London!

Love, Annie

Friday in Luanda

February 17, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today I got up early and worked hard. I’ve been going around with my driver, Fernando.  He doesn’t speak any English but we’re getting along pretty well!

This first picture was taken from the car (we’re not supposed to open the windows…) near one of the bases near the port. I had to go there because that’s where the DHL office is located. I had a pretty difficult time getting into the office (which is in one of the corporate offices that’s heavily guarded) but once I got in it was very easy and took about 15 seconds to send my package.

I’ve noticed a few things that are in abundance here. First, police. There are heavily armed men Everywhere. I don’t have a picture of these guys. Obviously. Second, trash.

The streets are lined with it.

This picture isn’t such a good example of the piles, but it is a pretty brilliant color. Again this picture is from the car so I couldn’t tell you how it smelled. This is not from rain. I know it’s gross but I’m trying to give you an idea of whats going on here.

Third, there is an Enormous amount of traffic. Apparently, the city is only built to hold a fraction of people that actually live here. With the rapid development, tons of people are driving all of a sudden (not sure how sudden, but the streets can’t really handle the volume). It took us about two hours to drive 5 kilometers this afternoon.

Here’s a picture from my hotel room. You can see the port on the left and some city on the right.

It’s also very expensive here. I knew this coming in but I couldn’t believe that a red bull on the menu where I ate lunch was 11 dollars. I didn’t get one.

All in all, Im doing pretty well. Even though I can’t really wander around (my favorite thing to do in new cities), I’m not sick (knock on wood) and in good spirits and ready for another full day of work tomorrow.

Love, Anne

Hello Angola

February 16, 2012

Hi Family and Friends,

Hope all is well. No pictures today.  I’m sitting at the bar lounge in the hotel in Angola. The internet is great here, which is the best thing. They don’t have wine by the glass, which is not the best thing.

This morning, I got on the plane in Windhoek. The lady in the seat next to me changed her baby’s diaper right there in the seat next to me! So that was pretty gross.

I had a security briefing when I got here, and that was pretty scary. At least, they told me, crimes here aren’t “personal”, its more on the spot theft, so I probably won’t be kidnapped.

The hotel is pretty gross, but I’ll only be here four days. More tomorrow! I’ll try to take some pictures.


Goodbye Windhoek

February 15, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

The past few days have been really nice. I’ve been working hard and enjoying my time here.

This afternoon, I finished a little early so went to hang out in the park.

In the park, I hung out with some guys from Windhoek that were studying IT at the university here. One said he would be scared to go to America because you can’t walk outside after 8pm because it’s too dangerous. I guess that’s the impression our TV shows and movies leave on people! This next picture is of Joes Beerhouse from Last night. I met a group of college students there studying abroad in Windhoek at the bar! Pretty cool.

This evening, I went back to the Hilton to hang out at the bar and read.

I ended up sitting next to a Super cool couple that has traveled all over the world and has lived in Namibia for four years. They’ve also lived in Zambia, Guatemala… We talked for a while about everything from politics to language to what we did during our long flight connections in Amsterdam. It was absolutely wonderful company.

Tomorrow morning, I fly to Luanda, Angola! Currently the most expensive place for an expatriate to live.  Should be interesting for many reasons. See you soon!

Love, Annie

Lazy Sunday in Windhoek

February 12, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was a pretty lazy Sunday in Windhoek. I got up and did a little work in the morning because I slept through yesterday morning. I ate lunch, and then went for a walk. I wandered to the cool church that I had only seen from a distance, and beyond that to the parliament building.  This is a picture of the gardens in the Parliament area. It’s Sunday, so people are just hanging out. There was a small group of people doing some singing practice so I listened for a while.

After walking I went to the rooftop bar I heard about last night.

I was going to put a picture of the view, but it’s just not all that exciting. Here are some flowers I saw today. There are a lot of flowers around. I’m told this is really not normal but we’re in the middle of rainy season so it’s very lush.

Off to bed! Love, Annie

Windhoek Weekend!

February 11, 2012

Hi Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Today was a great day in Windhoek. The hotel gave me a false wake up call at 7:00 AM that I wasn’t too happy about, but I easily went back to sleep.

Today I slept late, worked hard, and then had fun. Most things are closed on Saturday afternoon, so the city looks pretty empty here. This is a picture of Independence Avenue, one of the main streets. I’m on my way to a supermarket! The supermarket, unlike the streets, was packed! For brunch, I ate gazpacho and spinach ravioli at a nice restaurant overlooking Independence Ave.

After work, I hung out at the Hilton hotel. I had some work there too, but then there was this learn-how-to-make-drinks event going on in the bar where I was working.

After finishing work, I joined in on the fun. ! I met some nice people, and we tried lots of different cocktails.

This is a picture of the scene. That little tree-trunk table ended up with a lot more drinks on it!

My favorite was the whiskey sour. After that, I had dinner with a new friend Marcel from Australia. We had a wonderful conversation! I’ts such a nice special treat to make friends in new places.

That’s about it for today. I’m excited to watch some NBC (Namibian Broadcasting Corporation) and for a nice sleep.



Windhoek Welcome

February 10, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today I woke up at 3:30 in the morning to catch a flight to Windhoek, Namibia. After an ordeal (a misunderstanding about visas) at the immigration station, I finally got the stamp of approval to get into the country.

This first picture is the view from my hotel room. Not bad! When I arrived at 10:30, I wasn’t able to check in immediately, so I went for an exploratory walk around Windhoek. I ate a brunch of a Malawian dish, which included more spinach than I’ve had in the past year plus some tomatoes, onions, and peanuts. A hardy dose of vegetables to say the least. Oh, and some hard cider. Why not.

I checked into the hotel and worked during the afternoon. It started to rain so hard outside. We’re currently in the middle of the Namibian rainy season.

For dinner, I went to Joe’s  Beerhouse, a “famous” bar in Windhoek. Here’s one view of it walking in.

I made friends with the bartender and he had me try some of their best German dishes. They had long names and I can’t pronounce them. Meat, potatoes, creamy mushroom sauce, and salad… yum. The food they are really famous for is their Game… they have Kudu, Zebra, Ostrich, all sorts of wild animals to taste. I haven’t decided if i’ll try that yet. Anyway, I’m exhausted and am so excited to veg out in bed and watch TV.