Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Guest Blogger: Tyree aka Real Househusband of Luanda

is a sauce made with these tiny little peppers. It is HOT. I've never had anything like it. I liked it so much that I wanted to make some for myself.

I know from experience not to chop up hot peppers with bare hands. I put these in the blender after twisting the stems off. Still, they burned a hole in my finger.

They filled the kitchen with a cloud of hot pepper gas. I had to wrap a wet towel around my face to get in there and make the sauce.

I'm pouring some nice olive oil into a jar with the chopped up peppers. That's all you really have to do. Once the hotness infuses into the oil you just have to put a few drops on your food and it will be as hot as you can stand.

Here's the finished product. Maybe we'll get fancier next time and put in some garlic, or lemon, or something.

And here it is with some amazing vegetable samosas Heather made and a curry of squash, green beans, and cashew nuts.

Bon appetit!

Uíge: Rapid Diagnostic Testing

Yesterday I observed a training on rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) for malaria using the Bioline Rapid Test. I volunteered to be tested, so the participants could practice - and so that I could find out if I had malaria. You can have malaria without showing symptoms for several weeks (in at least one strain you can have it for years without knowing). I wanted to be tested before our trip back to the States, because I don´t think that most American doctors know how to test and treat malaria. Malaria medication is not readily available in most American pharmacies; it would have to be specially ordered. So, I was happy to receive a free test.

The training participants were nurses at a hospital in Songo, Uíge. I had to be pricked twice with a lancet because the first nurse couldn´t get the capillary tube to fill correctly. It hurt a little.

When the tube is filled to a certain point, you should place the tube in the small hole on the test. Then you place four drops of a solution in the hole, which makes the blood move up across the testing strip. Kind of like a pregnancy test, one line will appear as a control - to tell you the test is not damaged. Then, if the patient has malaria, a second line will appear. The Bioline test can distinguish between p. falciparum and p. vivax, the two most common species of the malaria parasite. If you have both strains, all three lines will appear.

In squeezing my fingers to fill the capillary tube with blood, the training participant got blood all over my fingers and the table. We had alcohol wipes, but there wasn´t any water in the building so it was about an hour before I could wash my hands.

The test was passed around so the participants could diagnose me.

And I am happy to say I am malaria-free!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Praia de São Braz

We camped out with some friends on this very secluded and somewhat difficult to reach beach. There was another camping group at the other end of the beach, but other than that it was just Tyree and I and 18 other people we had just met! It was a lot of fun.

The beach was so interesting because, while Angola is very much a tropical country, the beach was misty and cool. It made me feel like I was on the set of Lord of the Rings. It was amazing, and as always, it was so relaxing to be away from the city and work and any worries we may have left behind.

Bridge over the Rio Kwanza.

A tank left over from the war.

Mirador da Lua

This past weekend we were invited to go to the beach with some new friends. Along the way we stopped at Mirador da Lua, named for its lunar quality. Its a very dramatic landscape! Also, because we are below the equator, it is finally starting to cool off here. June, July and August will be our winter. It was perfect camping weather.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Luanda: Cheias

On our way back into Luanda, we encountered some major flooding. If you look in the distance at these photos, you can see houses up to the windows in water. Hopefully, the families that lived there were able to get out before the flooding got this bad. Housing is a major issue in Luanda. The city is overcrowded and people have built homes where there is no zoning, no building codes, no city planners to tell them that this land will flood if it rains too much.

Sometimes when people in the US say they want less government...this is what I think of. When there is no government institution to make sure water drains away from homes and not into them, this is what happens.

Vou Xinguilar

We listened to this song on the way back to Luanda from Uíge. The driver explained some of the significance of the lyrics to us. She´s telling her parents that it would be better if they returned all the money, gifts, and the letter given to them by her husband when he asked for her hand in marriage. His family is abusive to her, calling her ugly and threatening her. So, she says, it would be better to return everything - so that she can come back home.

This lead to a conversation about marriage. Actually, it turned out to be the second conversation I have had about marriage so far. Angolans have an idea that the US is not as traditional as Angola, though they admit that many traditions in Angola are fading too. It would be hard to estimate which country was losing its wedding traditions faster. But yeah, things like dowries and bride prices have long since gone away in the US. The only vestiges left are in the notion that the bride´s family pays for the wedding and the groom´s family pays for the rehearsal and a few other things. This is similar to the Angolan tradition of exchanging gifts between the two families. But, even the song is addressing an antiquated idea. The return of the gifts would be more symbolic of the marriage dissolving than legally necessary for a woman to leave her husband. Or at least, that is how it was told to me.

I would say in both the US and in Angola it is true that getting married is expensive, and that can prohibit a lot of people from doing it. The driver said that here, when a man wants to marry a woman, he should write a letter to her parents asking for permission and also include money in the letter. The parents will write back and include a list of things the man must give them - goats, money, clothes - before he can marry their daughter. But, this is an old tradition and doesn´t happen before every marriage any more. Many people don´t have the money for such exchanges of wealth, so they don´t get married at all.

I like the song, even though the lyrics are sad. It´s an interesting lesson in culture too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Uíge: Terra do Café

After Kwanza Norte, Tyree and I went to Uíge to visit the malaria project there. Uíge used to be a major coffee-producing area.

Related Posts:

Uíge: Scenes from the Road

Moçambique: Saudades Vergonhosas

Kwanza Norte: Rain and Fish

This little boy saw me taking a picture of the village across the lake from the city of Dondo, Kwanza Norte and wanted me to take a picture of him too.

Chuva, Chuva, Chuva

A bust of Queen N´zinga or Rainha Ginga, as she is called in Angola, at the center of N´dalatando, the provincial capital of Kwanza Norte.

Kwanza Norte: Malaria Day, April 25th

April 25th is World Malaria Day. I spent it in Kwanza Norte with our project coordinator. There was a small health fair where the different organizations involved in the effort against malaria presented what they did. For example, a Cuban organization is involved in fumagation for vector control. The Angolan Red Cross provides social mobilization in the form of street theater, seen below. After the health fair, we went to a secondary school where one of our team members gave a presentation on malaria, causes and prevention.

Malaria is a parasite spread by the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. One of the best prevention methods is sleeping under an insecticide-treated net because this mosquito likes to bite at night and in the early morning. But many people don´t sleep under nets.

We asked the students why not. Some of the answers were: It´s hot under the net, I don´t have one, I get tangled up in the net.