For a few things that is...
When I left work on Friday, I thought that I would have nothing to do but sit around the house all weekend. But I ended up having a great time.
I did study a lot of Portuguese, but also got out a bit. On Friday I went to dinner at Arlete’s cousins apartment. The host, Bella, was a HOOT. Loud and dramatic and funny – even if I didn’t know what was being said. Bella and Cila, another cousin, both spoke a bit of English so we had a good time joking and laughing with and at each other.
But the highlight of the weekend was definitely, Sunday night, the eve of Angola’s first soccer match in the World Cup!
That day was crazy. Everyone was on the streets in the colors of the Angolan flag, red, black and yellow. It was like the Fourth of July, Angolan style. Patriotic shirts, patriotic pants, crazy hats, headbands that said VIVA ANGOLA!, little flags and huge flags. We drove through a roundabout that had a monument and two guys had climbed on top and were waving a huge flag. As fate would have it, I didn’t have my camera.
I went with Arlete to a party at her friend’s apartment. It’s funny, in Angola, the buildings are all really old, but people fix up their apartments so that you’re surprised when you step into the apartment from the dirty, smelly stairway. The apartment was at the top of the building and they had the rooftop patio set up for the game. There was a huge spread of food – rice, vegetable, stew, desserts and a giant salty dried pork leg. I guess it’s a traditional Portuguese item. You cut off a piece of meat and chew on it and wash it down with a swig of beer. But I wasn’t there for the food (although it was good) – we were there for the game. And they had a projector set up with a huge screen so we could it better.
The game wasn’t on when we arrived, so we ate, drank and danced! There was great music from Angola, Spain, Brazil, Congo… Cila, I found out, loves dancing as much as I do.
There are two Angolan dances that I need to learn. Conzumba, I think, which is a three-step partner dance. Then another dance that I forget the name of – all I know is that it literally translates to “hard butt”. You only move your hips, like Polynesian or hula dancing, but it’s more suggestive. I tried, but I think I miserably failed. Maybe I can’t learn it. Maybe it has something to do with Angolan gene expression that I will never have.
Anyway, Angola lost. There was lots of jumping up, cursing, yelling, and screaming (Did I mention that I love the passion of the World Cup?) But in the end, everyone thought that the team played well, considering it was their first appearance at the World Cup against their former colonial ruler.
Over the weekend, I learned that there are a few things that you can enjoy even if you don’t speak the language of the people around you: laughing, dancing, and a love for the World Cup.