A couple of weeks ago we took a quick city tour of Luanda downtown. It gave us an interesting look at the economic extremes and the strong presence of the oil companies. Many tell us that the skyline has completely changed within the past 5 years, from no high-rise office buildings to more than 20. We visited the `Marginal` which is the main road along the water leading up to the port. Along the Marginal there are several well conserved Portuguese colonial buildings and a couple of hotels.
We happened to visit downtown on the same day that Hilary Clinton was here in Angola meeting with the Ministry of Petroleum, which is also on the Marginal. As we were walking along, several military trucks full of armed soldiers pulled up and unloaded. They were awaiting Hilary´s arrival and we were told that we had to leave the area. Most of us were taking pictures, of course, and we were scolded by the soldiers several times as it is apparently illeagal to take photographs of any military personnel or equipment. I guess you can actually get arrested or they would even confiscate your camera if you were caught taking pictures. One of the teachers in our group was unaware of this and took sevaral pics. of soldiers there. Opps! Fortunately, nothing happed to him.
At the end of the city tour we went to an old fort set atop a hill overlooking the Marginal. We had some great views of the city. Looking out on one side you have a view of the high rises and colonial building. Out into the bay you can see hundreds of cargo ships waiting to unload. Looking out the other way you see a mass of shack-like houses where squatters have make their homes and endless amounts of trash sprawled across the slum. It makes for a very interesting contrast of wealth and poverty.
Here are some pics of Luanda.