Angola is a country ravaged by war. Since its independence from Portugal in 1975 there have been bloody struggles for power. Up until a few years ago the bombs were still going off as Communist rebels tried to stake a claim in Namibia. It was on the State Department’s red list (very dangerous countries, currently on the red list are such places as Iraq, Iran and Colombia), and is still on its yellow list today. As we learned from an Angol-Namib man at our lodge in Rundu, voodoo cults are common, killings occur daily, and unexploded bombs litter are everywhere. Most people with money left Angola long ago due to the many dangers they faced in everyday life. Sound like your ideal vacation spot? No? Well, my parents doing as any good parents would have done decided, “Hey, why not?” (Note that they will also be taking us to Colombia, one of the only three countries on the Red List). Now if they would have stopped there this would have been fine, but then they took it one step further. Being the cheapskates that they are, my parents decided to save the visa money and enter the country ILLEGALLY. Enter a third world, war torn nation ILLEGALLY. Enter the yellow list country ILLEGALLY. Why? So we can say we’ve been there!
Just kidding. Well not about the war torn nation part (or for that matter the cheapskate part…), but for travelers in northern Namibia, it is common to illegally cross the border into Angola, which is just a stone’s throw across the river, just to say you have. And so no grandparents get concerned, no, we did not go headlong into an Angolan war-zone; we simply took a stroll in the countryside. Our journey to Angola began when we stopped at the campsite where we had an eerie incident the night before (read my mom’s post). We looked across the river and asked someone if that was Angola or Namibia on the other side. They told us it was Angola, and that if we wanted, we could make a quick stop there illegally on a birdwatching boat ride.
My parents were excited while the rest of us had mixed feelings…about the birdwatching that is…boring. But it was settled. The next morning they woke us up and before we knew it, we were getting out of the small rickety boat and jumping into Angola. Hans, the boat driver, gave us a sign that read “Illegal in Angola” and told us to go take some pictures.
When we had finished documenting our criminal activity, we got back in the boat and made our way back to the campsite. Upon hitting the Namibian shore, we breathed a sigh of relief; we had made it out of Angola safely. But safe from what? We didn’t know since all we saw were a few cows. Now let’s just hope the Angolan government doesn’t read our blog…