Angola

Angola is a country where travel by myself was not advised. I went there while working. We were all closely guarded from the time we left the airport until we returned. We were either preceded or followed by a van with armed guards and sometimes one armed man was inside our van as well. The hotel was nice and we had good meals, but to go out in the city of Luanda we had to ask permission and they would not let us go alone. A few times, organized trips to the hand-crafts market were arranged and we were taken there to shop. Many of the locals did not want their picture taken, as some believe it steals their soul.

Mostly, watching from the hotel or the van window is all we could do.
I could not help but feel like a rich foreigner, although by American standards I am not, that came to visit and to watch less fortunate souls live their lives, but not being able to interact with them. It was almost like watching a real life size TV screen, and I feel I was deprived of a real experience and connection to the local life.
From the hotel’s window I watched kids climb in the garbage bins. From the van we saw kids and teenagers wash themselves in the street, using a hose that seemed to belong to the city; women carrying baskets on their heads, walking as straight as I wish I could, too; dirt roads and dust everywhere, and clothes hung out to dry on most windows and balconies – All as a normal day’s life develops, not disrupted by our watching, our opinion or our pity for the perceived poverty. I have no idea what their lives feel like.

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