Along the West Coast of Southern Africa and in a different hemisphere, but still amazing how much it reminds me of Baku! An oil city built on a sloping hill toward the sea; a wide, curving boulevard lined with palm trees and granite sidewalks; neighborhoods that are a mishmash of ramshackle shanty towns and new skyscrapers. Tearing down the old to make room for the new. Some streets smelling better than others. I can walk around outside the hotel here!
There is a different underlying culture, of course. Angola was colonized by Portugal, which means the language, the food, and dress are an odd blend of Euro-African. Two cultures intertwined on top of each other where neither one appears the victor. I guess you could say Baku was a blend of Euro-Central Asian culture, that liked the glittery, sophisticated bits Europe had to offer but still preferred its own food, culture, and language. Maybe that is the difference between a culture that chooses to adopt another one vs. one that is forced to adopt something they didn’t ask for? One is made stronger by the intermixing and exchange of ideas, while the other is weakened by the strain of oppression and mistrust?
It’s hard to really know, living as we do in our ex-pat bubble. My hotel is lovely, all glass and marble with wide staircases and a waterfall inside. I have breakfast overlooking the bay, where barges and industrial-looking boats float in crowds along the shoreline. Everyone is here on business. I see at least 10 men to every woman, mostly European but I can tell a few Americans by the way they ask for ketchup at breakfast. There is a direct, non-stop flight between Angola and Houston, Texas. Oh, and my flight was again a Dreamliner. There is money in this world I will never understand.
The Portuguese pastries and nice Angolan people save this trip from being intolerable, but I miss my simple life back home with my boys.
Even when they are wearing underwear on their heads. XOXOXOXOXOXO!!!!!!!