Liam's first order of business when we got back and unpacked was building the Death Star.....
.....alongside Jonah putting together stools we brought back from IKEA. Lego for adults!
Returning to familiar surroundings and not needing to figure everything out anew, means that we have had more time and energy to explore a bit further afield. Among the adventures have been a fancy Sunday lunch at a country lodge, a night of camping in the forest for Jonah and two colleagues during which they came across a bull elephant, attending Rosh Hashanah dinner with the Israeli Ambassador leading the prayers, a boat ride to see humpback whales, stocking up on soy sauce and noodles at a Chinese market on the outskirts of the city, and a mechanically challenged deep sea fishing outing for Jonah (and, yes, that Marlin was HUGE!).
Another highlight was getting far out of town on a three-day weekend in mid-September. Our destination was Catanas Point:
Unfortunately, that driving time on the map does not account for the conditions of the roads which were, not good. Our traveling crew - 26 people in total - included these five kids, grades 6, 7, 8, 8, and 9, who talked and snacked incessantly. If you have an opinion on Harry Potter vs. Star Wars, these are your people:
We stopped for a short walk and lunch at some nice waterfalls along the way:
Nine and a half hours after our 6:00am departure, finally on approach to the camping spot:
Beachfront tent sites:
Happily out of the car, setting up tents, and running into the ocean:
So how did we end up at this particular place? A colleague who surfs every weekend met a fellow surfer, Sergio - a Brazilian dentist who has lived in Luanda for several years and runs a clinic in Luanda - out on the waves. Sergio developed this camp as a surfing destination and negotiated his lease on the land by providing dental care to the villages on either side of the property and he is now in the process of building a school for the local kids who do not have access to education.
The facilities at camp included cold showers and a couple of toilets and in true southern Africa style, the braai was in stacked to full capacity around dinnertime. The first night, our host grilled lobsters for all who wanted them and unlike most lobster bakes, multiple servings were available to those who wanted seconds, or thirds:
The next day, most of our group did a three-hour hike along a riverbed to an old dam, up and across the ridge, and back down to camp through the neighboring village. We had to hurry ourselves along to get back to camp before total darkness:
Lots and lots of fossils:
Starting our descent:
Village life at sunset:
That night, the boys asked to sleep under the stars and they were the last to wake up in the morning:
As we have realized over the years, group travel is really great fun and this was a fantastic trip with fantastic people. This year, we look forward to many more adventures around this part of the world. For starters, we have just put the finishing touches on winter break plans - just nine short weeks away. The bigger news is that both boys will go on their first international school trip this year; Liam is headed to Nairobi with the swim team in November where he will have his own cheering section of friends from our Delhi days. In the second semester, Asa and the entire 8th grade will be off to South Africa for a week of safari and cultural exchange. A big step for both kids - and their parents!
But before we get to all of that, it's time to get this break started. Having just gotten our visas renewed (and passports back) about ten days ago, the opportunity to travel outside of Angola was a happy surprise. When asked what they wanted to do with this week, Liam's reply was "go to a mall" and Asa said "stay on a farm". With the details coming together quickly - and both kid requests fitting into the itinerary - our bags are now packed and we head to the airport first thing in the morning.
Thanks for reading along and please follow on Instagram for updates from the road.
Note: Camping photo credits go to Jonah and fellow travelers.