Day 3 & 4 was really a unique experience for all of us, but it was a most incredible day for our driver and travel companion, Indio. Indio is and Angolan who works at the school and as we are not allowed to drive on our own, we hired him to escort us through the provinces. After of few days of long car rides, you get to know a lot about the people you are with. I, of course, was not shy in asking loads of personal questions to learn more about the culture and lives of Angolans during and after the civil war. So, here is Indio´s story.
Indio grew up in a very small farming village about 15km from the town of Waco Kungo. He spent his younger years studying at the local school and working in the corn fields with his father. At 20 years of age, Indio married his childhood sweetheart and planned on starting a family. He had been married less than 2 months when his life took an unexpected turn. The MPLA military group entered the villages in the area and were forcing young men to join the army and fight in the war. Indio refused to join and the military threatened to take his life. Indio´s only option was to go into hiding. He escaped into the mountains of Waco Kungo and, in his own words, he lived like a ´savage´ for an entire year away from his wife and family. His only hope was to find his way to Luanda, Angola´s Capital, where he could find work and be free of military pressure.
Indio made it to Luanda and after six months on his own, he was able to set up a modest home for himself and his wife, Nastasha. However, by the time he sent for her, fighting in the provinces was so bad, that there was no transportation and roads were too dangerous to travel. So, she set out on foot through the mountains and after 3 months walking she arrived in Luanda. Happy to be reunited with his wife, Indio settled in Luanda and they made a life for themselves there.
Sitting around the campfire on the first night of our trip, Indio told us this story and that since that time, 15 years ago, he had never been back to his village. It was only the following day while Indio and I were studying the road map of Angola and talking about the route we would take down south to Huambo that he mentioned we would be passing through the town of Waco Kungo, only 15km from his village. We decided to camp in Waco Kungo as Indio was a member of the Catholic church growing up and knew the priest. We ended up camping out behind the old colonial church and had a visit and blessing from the Priest. The following morning…we took Indio home!
He was very surprised to see that his village had hardly changed in the last 15 years and tears came to his eyes when he first saw his father in the distance working in the field. It was an emotional reunion between father and son and although his father took a few moments to believe that it was really his son standing in front of him, they shared a nice long hug. It was a beautiful homecoming!