16 August 2008

August Weekend #1: What did you just say?

The first weekend in August was an entertaining one. It started by meeting a cheery local named Pashú at the gym on Friday night – he jumped in on a leg workout with Burch and I and after changing numbers I felt like I was getting somewhere with forming something of a local group of friends. Friday night was mostly spent in Lolita’s car while we toured the city for no apparent reason, except that Lolita had put in a dance music CD and she wanted to listen to it, entirely, before stopping. Thus we passed the better part of an hour circling the same part of town. She made an excuse that she wanted to show us exactly where a concert for which we had tickets was going to be held the following night. We got it after the first time, but by drive-by number four I think we finally convinced her we could find it on our own. (Nevermind the fact that Benguela is nearly a perfect grid and everything is walking distance anyway.)

After a leisurely morning (is there a better kind?) the next day we joined Nancy (the American expat who runs our language school) and two others for a tour of the area in her Ford truck. I was riding in the middle in the back for a few uncomforable hours, but we did get to explore some of the area, which is what central Nevada would look like if it had a coast.

Coastal Shots South of Benguela:

At one point the lady accompanying our group and sitting to my right decided it would be a good idea to pull my armhair suddenly and without warning. I gave her a dirty look and pulled away. She managed to call me a “macaco” after that, giving me yet new reasons not to like her. These feelings changed after she told me that she was part man and part woman. I thought maybe this statement had some kind of figurative meaning in Portuguese until she proceeded to lower her shirt to expose a hairy chest between her breasts. I don’t mean a little bit hairy either – she could have given me a run for the money. I was dumbstruck. What on earth do you say in that situation? I responded with what I hoped was a respectful silence and erased my previous negative thoughts about this woman. You can’t make this stuff up.

We said goodbye to the two ladies back in Benguela and headed north to the cities of Catumbela and Lobito. Catumbela I had visited before with my host sister the previous weekend, but this time we stopped for ice cream at a popular café (the peanut flavor was the best). You get a sense of the agricultural potential of the country in this area, which has been replanted with all sorts of crops mostly along the river bed.

View of Catumbela River:

Lobito is just a few miles farther north and was my favorite, mostly because we stopped for a pizza dinner at a quiet oceanside restaurant at sunset. After nonstop rice and beans it’s amazing how exotic pizza can seem. I actually don’t mind the rice and beans, but it’s nice to be reminded that other food forms exist.

California Dreamin' in Lobito:

Back in Benguela that night Burch and I went to a concert – Paulo Flores was the featured artist and he turned out to be a great performer. At one point I ended up dancing with a drunken male patron sitting behind me (at his request, incidentally). This turned out to be the only dancing going on for either Burch or I that night – our foray to the disco afterwards was a bust when they kept playing the local “kizumba” music. Nothing is wrong with the music, but it’s sort of for couples. More importantly it’s sort of for people who know how to do the dance. Which we don't. Thus, at the early-by-Benguela-standards hour of 3am we walked home. I wasn’t complaining…

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