c6 angola project

The week before
September 8, 2009, 11:52 am
Filed under: *Travel Diary

It’s 3.42 am. I’m here in Vienna unable to sleep. I spent almost an hour on skype with Cristobal Delgado talking about the Ovimbundo kingdom and land tenure issues in the high-plains after the end of the Civil War. I have a copy of stories that he sent – Umbundu folk tales – collected by Merlin Ennis. I’ll get them printed tomorrow…

We still don’t have Jim’s visa squared away and it’s down to the 11th hour. It has been very difficult to understand exactly who is responsible for the visa. the Consulate in Rotterdam told us to talk with the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Justice and now with the Migration Services (SME). I just spoke on the phone with the Consul General and he explained that if we want the Visa by Friday, he needs a fax from SME today or tomorrow.

Here’s an email that he just sent me…

“Got these little gems of encouragement from:

‘…unsettled political-military conditions and the potential for renewed fighting continue to make travel to and within Angola extremely unsafe. Facilities for tourism are non-existent. Severe shortages of lodging, transportation, food, water, medicine and utilities plague Luanda and other cities. Shortages result in a lack of sanitary conditions in many areas, including Luanda.

Persons arriving without visas are subject to possible arrest and/or deportation.

Adequate medical facilities are virtually non-existent throughout Angola, and most medicine is not available. Chloroquine-resistant and cerebral malaria are endemic to the region. Health providers often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

…the security situation in Angola remains extremely volatile. Large crowds and demonstrations should be avoided. Travel in the interior is unsafe because of the presence of bandits, land mines and sporadic armed clashes. The rising rate of banditry has made the Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul provinces particularly unsafe for foreigners.

Violent crime occurs regularly throughout Angola. Street crime is common in all areas of Luanda, at all hours. Foreigners, including U.S. citizens, have been the targets of violent robberies in their homes and hotel rooms. Because of increased incidences of armed robberies and carjackings, travelers are cautioned against airport arrivals after dark.

City streets are patrolled by soldiers and police who normally carry automatic weapons. They are unpredictable and their authority should not be challenged. All motorists should stop at nighttime police checkpoints if so ordered. Police officers, often while still in uniform, frequently participate in shakedowns, muggings, carjackings and murders.

Travelers should be alert to a number of scams perpetrated by Luanda airport personnel. Immigration and customs officials frequently detain foreigners without cause, demanding gratuities before allowing them to enter or depart Angola. Airport health officials threaten arriving passengers with “vaccinations” with unsterilized instruments if gratuities are not paid. Airport officials have also attempted to steal U.S. passports and other documents.

Most destinations in the interior are accessible only by private or chartered aircraft. Civilians have been injured and killed by land mines exploding on roads and in bandit attacks.’

More positive spin here, though:

‘Contrary to popular belief, travelling in Angola is far safer than outsiders might first imagine – as long as you abide by a few basic ground rules. Luanda’s street-crime aside, your biggest danger is probably health, with malaria a particular worry in the coastal areas. Consult your doctor before you leave and don’t cut corners when it comes to medication, mosquito nets and other preventative measures; for more details, see Health. Crime against foreigners is low outside the capital and armed banditry in the provinces has diminished considerably since 2002. Furthermore, Angolan police – while certainly not incorruptible – are generally friendlier than many of their African counterparts. Nevertheless, ask permission before taking photos in public areas, always carry a photocopy of your passport and don’t wander off the road in rural areas – the threat of unexploded landmines is still a huge problem.’

Any news from Rotterdam…?



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