|He loves a good laugh as well|
This would drive a normally sane man wild with frustration, crazy with suffused rage. Anyone who knows me would hardly drop me in the category of ‘sane’, inclining their opinions rather more toward the psychopathic end of the emotional spectrum.
Clearly, there is something about the Barra do Kwanza that can stay a maniac’s hand, soothe a fevered brow and quench a raging thirst for blood because I have still not lost my temper. Quite the contrary. Not only have I maintained a for me, highly unusual sang froid, I am serene rather than irritable, have successfully given up whisky, have lost quite a bit of weight and am far more active than I have been for years. I have gone fishing and shooting and, together with Dominic the company of whom I have enjoyed for nearly two weeks, have more or less taught little Alex to swim. I have filled in and levelled a 25 x 50 metre plot for my seed beds, I now enjoy excellent relations with my erstwhile nemesis and neighbour Rico, and Doggy, the shameless hussy, has got herself pregnant the father being Rico’s very impressive and unusual tiger striped hound. In addition a German tourist company want to start using Flordita as soon as it is finished and I am only a hair’s breadth away from seizing control of my security company and ousting the two local directors. Both trucks are on the road and the shop is doing so well Marcia is on almost daily resupply runs. The sea is behaving itself and the weather is gorgeous.
Rather than fume at the delays and bemoan lost income, I have decided that life is good. There is no hurry, the family are well fed, happy and enjoying themselves and it is all miles better than living in the city and reporting at Oh 7 Hundred hours for tedious duty every morning.
Still, you can have too much of a good thing and I really would like to open so I was very pleased to see our new home, after much sawing and planing of rough timber, rise up out of the ground. Naturally, having approved the design and having admitted that it looks good so far, Marcia had to have a dig at me for positioning the house incorrectly. Apparently it is the wrong way round, whatever that means. I aligned it the way I did so that I could sit on my veranda and watch the sun sink into the palm trees. Marcia, evidently, would have preferred a view of the road. Happily, she realises it is too late to change and is looking forward instead to her fully fitted Bosch kitchen, complete with dishwasher.
An automatic dishwasher in Angola is rather like having an ice cube making machine in the Arctic. So far in Africa I have always managed to stumble along using the much more environmentally friendly ‘maid’. But I suppose a dishwasher would be handy on Sundays when maids have to go to church and enjoy a ‘rest day’ (legal idleness clearly invented by God and enforced by communists). Marcia did sell me on the idea though when she reminded me of just how little was left of my bone china dinner service which, wherever you buy it, is not guaranteed Maid Proof. Good point, well made I thought but if this is a cue for me to lash out on another load of expensive crockery to go with her smart kitchen, she can dream on, I can’t afford it. If it was up to me, we’d be eating out of army mess tins and everyone would get an issue of KFS and if they lost a knife, a fork or a spoon, tough shit.
The other day, Dominic told me that this had been the best holiday he had ever had. Considering we were both up to our elbows in blood and guts at the time, I was a little surprised but he insisted.
|You see, Chris? Even kids can catch fish here...|
For a few days we enjoyed the company of Marcia’s nieces which was fun even if the numbers meant we had to turn the shop into a dormitory at night but for the kids it was brilliant. Fancy a midnight snack? The little beggars must have hoovered away half Marcia’s biscuits and sticky buns and no wonder they were all hyper and up at six in the morning with all that fizzy pop inside them.
|Dominic, Dead Bambi and Mad Dog|
|Yes kids, this is where your food comes from...|
|Through the initiative of Dominic, this job was gory but none too arduous|
I could only stare at him dumbfounded.
|Halfway there? That loony hippy HFW would be proud of me.|
|How's that for a chunk of venison?|
I can’t remember what I had been doing that was important enough to allow Dominic and his cousins to drop off my radar but when I suddenly got missile lock I realised they had barricaded themselves into what will be the bar of the restaurant and had a bloody disco going. I have cleared minefields and been shot at countless times so the last thing I was going to do was to push my luck by barging in on a load of teenagers so I asked Marcia what was going on.
Every weekend we get loads of visitors from Luanda to the Barra do Kwanza, all of them eager to escape the stress of the city and enjoy a bit of unspoilt nature, rare indeed in Angola. While the sun is shining, not one of them pauses to wonder what will happen once it gets dark, the rather chilly onshore wind starts to blow and the sound of the surf, so soothing as the waves sparkle in the sun, at night turn into monstrous masses of water beating inexorably at the sand which, all too late they realise will be their bed for what promises to be a night somewhat less romantic than that portrayed in the films. I have been woken up at two in the morning by people begging for a bit of floor space in the Jango or at least a few scraps of wood with which to make a fire.
Marcia, who had been busy in the shop, had no idea what the kids were up to. She did say they had come in and bought loads of cakes, biscuits and fizzy drinks. Now this was quite remarkable since, as far as I knew, none of them had any money so I was mildly concerned I might, Fagin like, be host to a bunch of pubescent kleptomaniacs. On this point, Marcia was quick to reassure me. The kids had been selling my bordão to the weekend’s usual crop of itinerant beach dwellers.
To me it was scrap. To anyone faced with a cold and gritty night on the beach, it was a building material. To the thirteen year old issue of my loins, it was a business opportunity.
I was so proud.
|And so sun the sets on the Happy Campers of the Barra do Kwanza|