Ph. Flávia Rodrigues
// H&M shirt, STRADIVARIUS lace skirt, PARFOIS hat, ZARA bag & MANGO shoes.
Angola changed me in many ways, I believe. Or perhaps it didn’t. Perhaps it just exposed things about myself that were there all along. Besides matters of work, heart, friendships, family, basic needs and the value all those things have in my life, one of the best things to happen was the enhancing of that Less is More motto I was trying to adopt for awhile. I realized I don’t really need that much to live, after all, especially stuff, as half of the things I brought along with me remain untouched – clothes isn’t the case because well, things wear out, break, rip – also I lost weight – and eight months in a single suitcase isn’t that much indeed, so, as you can imagine, I can’t wait to give my now very few options a fresh breath. Yet, I intend to do this mostly with what I already have and left at home. I did a little shopping once MANGO dropped their prices up to 70% in order to resolve my shortcomings. Now, my new things will be waiting me at home so I don’t have to waste my very few days running the malls, distracting myself with things I don’t care about.
And then, when I caught myself thinking about what else do I want and need, I realized by cravings for this trip to ‘civilization’ are very few and I’m proud of it. Turns out, I don’t need 30 different bracelets, belts, necklaces or rings, because I always wear the same stuff. It is useless to waste money on new, more ‘fierce’ or whatever clothes I’ll hardly ever wear when I already know exactly what makes me feel comfortable and confident on a daily basis. Don’t even get me started on shoes… My style is much more clean and yes, I’m proud of that evolution. To be fair, by witnessing how little most people have in here, it almost feels obscene to think any other way. So, thank you, Angola, for showing me how little I need, and that my hard earned dollars should definitely be spent on much better and memorable things than a piece of fabric or another fancy pair of shoes. After all, I can’t be busting my ass for nothing.
So what do I want to buy? A nice pair of classic folding shades, a straw hat (after all here is mostly sunny all year long), delicate everyday silver jewelry and white button downs. And that’s it. Add to that a new bottle of my favorite foundation, concealer and BB Cream and my shopping is done. Uff! :D
7 months and 7 days (yes, I’m counting). Most people say you shouldn’t stay in Angola for more than 3 months straight – 4 tops! Well, I’m nearly doubling that line and I can’t say it’s been easy. I am a bit of a drama queen at times, I am aware of that, but this isn’t the case. To live here you need a certain support system. A nice paycheck is good but for most people it won’t probably be enough. Because without that support system – people, hobbies, logistics – you end up felling trapped most of the time. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they say. I agree, but I feel much weaker now than I was 6 months ago. Maybe it’s homesickness… Maybe I’m just tired. Perhaps I didn’t get very luck, perhaps I wasn’t very wise, perhaps I was reckless and dumb by trusting complete strangers. Those are all facts I’ve learned to accept and I’ve bang my head against the wall enough times to punish myself. So, as I feel my strength is failing me, and a few vacation days nearby my loved ones approach, I can’t wait to leave Luanda behind my back.
I never really fancied Luanda… And over the past weeks I was able to get some perspective and reach this certainty: Luanda is not for me. It’s dirty, dangerous, difficult and expensive. The best of Angola is out of Luanda’s city borders.
I’ve been travelling the country for work over the past weeks and I’ve been loving it (that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t posted anything in ages – there’s barely any internet connection out there). It has been tough but also an incredible adventure. Many wonderful places, plenty of stories, great people and an obscene amount of pictures. Truth be told, this is what I was promised, this was the plan, this is what brought me here, this is what I’ve been waiting for ever since I landed back in January. I’m now glad I did come, because despite all the bad things, I was lucky to witness and experience all this and I feel now it was worth the wait. I can attest with absolute certainty that Angola is a country of many many wonders (here are the official 7, but believe me – there are plenty more).
To do your best at something you’ve got to believe it, and even though I never really doubted Angola’s potential as soon as I started gathering information, to see things live and be part of something is rather different than seeing them on paper or on screen. Yes, it’s real, it’s beautiful, it’s overwhelming. It’s Africa and it’s great, so I am proudly spreading the word. Come to Angola and let yourself discover it!
Unfortunately, the one thing I can’t show you are those postcard-type pictures I am dying to publish but I can’t yet. As I said before, these have been sponsored trips, so my employer owns the rights to the pictures. However, I do promise that, as soon as they’re launched I’ll let you know. :) A warning though: none of the pictures do justice to the real thing. You’d really have to see for yourself.
I can show you some of these ‘me’ pictures in loco, though, and also let you know which have been my favorite places. I know it’s not much, but it’s what I have to offer now. I’ve been having an amazing time, and I was also lucky enough to find an amazing travel partner with whom I’ve been learning a lot and having loads of fun. Thank you, Madalena, for your help, support and for everything. It’s really been a pleasure sharing this journey with you.
And now I leave you with my favorites so far. I could also tell you all the missteps (some have scared me death) along the way but that’s part of its charm. One thing is for sure (and it’s something that always happens with me) – if there’s a chance it will go wrong, it definitely will. Fortunately, things always seem to get worse before they get better. Yet, when that better comes it’s totally worth it all.
My Top 10 (+1):
#1 – Restinga (Lobito, Benguela) – If I were to live somewhere here in Angola (like build a life and all that), it would be here. It’s peaceful, safe, by the beach, the houses are beautiful, you’re 20 minutes away from the big city and the Airport – you can definitely have better life quality here than anywhere else. My second choice would be Lubango.
#2 – Rio Longa Lodge (Cuanza Sul) – This is one of those hidden paradises one can barely believe to exist. After a joyful 20 min. boat ride, we arrive at a little island in the middle of the river overlooking the beach. The cabins are eco-friendly and suddenly it seems like you’ve just escaped the real world. It’s really amazing beyond words. Plus, behind the island there’s a hill you can go up to and watch the breathtaking view. I dare you.
#3 – Fenda da Tundavala (Lubango) – Imagine a mountain broken in half 1000 meters deep… Scary, right? A bit (ok – a lot), but the landscape is wonderful. The silence is overwhelming and the sunset just magical.
#4 - Pedras Negras de Pungo Andongo (Malanje) – Massive rocks in something that looks a lot like a rough (and bigger) version of Stonehenge. This is a cult place, or wasn’t it where Angola’s beloved Queen Jinga performed her sacrifices and orgies. I am dying to see them from the sky – that should be fantastic… Gotta to find a way to make that happen. There are also other beautiful giant rocks (some people climb, I heard) in Cuanza Sul – Serra do Engelo, nearby Conda (Gabela).
#5 – Quedas de Kalandula (Kalandula, Malanje) – Second biggest falls in Africa. You know when you get somewhere and you just gasp at the beauty in front of you? Well, that’s what happened to me. To see them from the top wasn’t enough so we went to the base, too (where I slipped and fell and injured one foot and bruised my butt, but it was worth it anyway). It’s scary as shit, but breathtakingly beautiful.
#6 – Quedas do Rio Tchihumbwé (Dala, Lunda Sul) – These are smaller but equally beautiful. Some kids slide over the rocks just for fun. I believe their wish to live is rather small so I wouldn’t recommend it. If I lived nearby I’d come here all the time to just sit by the water and read. Oh, it’s also nice to walk your way back through the river, over the stones.
#7 – Serra da Leba (Lubango) – This is the road that connects Lubango to Namibe. Over a dramatic hill, the road takes the shape of a snake and descends into the beginning of the desert. There’s a sightseeing point overlooking it (Miradouro da Boca do Humpata) and the landscape is absolutely stunning.
#8 – Road to Uíge (Luanda – Uíge) – There’s isn’t much to see or do in Uíge (known as the former coffee capital of Angola) but the road to there, though dangerous (narrow and crooked), offers a landscape continuously wonderful (like you can’t stop taking pictures and they never seem to be enough).
#9 – Flamingo Lodge (Namibe) – In the middle of the desert right by the sea. We got lost and stuck on our way there but it all turned out fine. The desert is something quite whimsical and frighting at the same time. The lodge is a little paradise ran by a very friendly staff, where you can sleep to the sound of the waves and take your time to fish, dive or surf. They also prepare great expeditions. This time of the year is freezing cold but it’s still totally worth the visit. Oh, on your way, don’t forget to check the big Welwitschia (allegedly the 2nd biggest in the world).
#10 – Centro Horto-Botânico de N’Dalatando (N’Dalatando, Cuanza Norte) – Lizards, butterflies, snakes (they say – fortunately we didn’t cross any)… they are all inhabitants of this great wild massive garden with tall bamboo trees and a cute Chinese bridge over a timid river. Very nice for a quiet walk into mother nature.
#11 – The Beaches (there are 1650 km of coast – take your pick) – There are beaches for every taste. And as far as I know, very nice waves for surf fans (at Cabo Ledo, Sumbe, Namibe, etc). For bad swimmers / water pussies like me, the blue and peaceful warm waters, with sparkling fish and soft sands of Baía Azul (Benguela) make it perfect.
Let’s see what the rest of the journey will bring us. We still have a few more provinces to go.
And if you got interested let me know. ;)
Speak to you soon!
Let’s be honest: let’s say you work at an office, you have a job you love, as well as a good income and amazing colleagues. Great, now imagine you have all this but you work in a cubicle or a dark hole that sucks the life out of you. How would you say that motivates you day in day out? Probably not much (or maybe, that’s just me), hence the importance of having good ‘surroundings’ at work. Your environment has a great impact on your mood as well as your productivity, aside any Feng Shui mumbo jumbo.
In my case, I’ve had better and worse work environments. I’ve switched rooms and desks plenty of times, but my ultimate goal is to have my own business. Some grow up satisfied with the prospect of being someone else’s employee for life. I cringe at that thought. I always said I would have to work for others before I could work for myself, because you need to learn a lot before taking that step, but I have always also known I wouldn’t want to work my ass off for someone else all my life. Because I do work my ass off. Even when I am mad and want to throw it all out the window I always end up doing more than I should, because I can’t do it any other way to be in peace with my conscience. Better do it for myself then, right?
This to say what? Well, that I do dream – a lot – about my future office. I have many passions, one of them being Interior Design, so I am always looking out for some inspirational spaces to one day maybe recreate in my home sweet home. And I believe a fresh and inspiring workspace is always a plus on motivation. After all that’s where you’ll spend a LOT of hours from your life. It better be welcoming. Let’s see… Here are some examples of places I wouldn’t mind working my 8 to 7 days:
Nice, uh? ;) Happy Friday!! :P
All images via Pinterest.
Saturdays used to be my favorite day of the week. Now not so much. I have to work Saturday mornings and that kinda blows the whole weekend off. Sundays, on the other hand, have me with mixed feelings, because it’s the only day off I have, but it is haunted by Mondays blues. Anyway, one of my favorite things to do in my free time has always been movie marathons. After all, a movie is always a good company, especially when you need to get your mind off things and escape a little bit, without going anywhere.
While I’m still trying to break down that IMDB 200 Best Movies Top, I do have a few titles I fancy re-watching every now and then, like safe bets I know and love. They aren’t all master pieces, but they are entertaining enough to make me feel good. And as I curl up in my bed (I don’t have a couch, yet), I love to dive in the stories I’ve seen so many times and know so well, but always please me.
So, when I’m not gasping at Game of Thrones or re-watching SATC, here are just a few favorites for a guilty few hours of dolce far niente (like lazy Sunday evenings):
#1. Moulin Rouge (2001)
Awww, the Moulin Rouge! Beauty, Freedom, Truth & Love! The Children of the Revolution!… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it (too many, probably)… I know pretty much every line, every song (the Elephant Love Medley in particular is my favorite – it’s absolutely amazing — here’s the movie version and here’s the originals version). I’ve actually sang it in the middle of street with some friends once (and we weren’t even that drunk yet). Come what may, I will love you, until the end of time.
#2. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Kat Stratford has been a personal hero of mine from the first moment I saw this movie. I love her and always related a bit to her. Plus, there was Heath Ledger and his Patrick Verona… ♥ You’re just to good to be true, Can’t take my eyes off of you ♥ (I have a weakness for musical moments)… Oh, and Cameron, a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt!… Lovely.
#3. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
I am a big fan of Baz Luhrmann. I like his vision, his aesthetics. Romeo & Juliet by his eyes is just even more fascinating. Like The Great Gatsby, and the previously mentioned Moulin Rouge, any of his movies is a feast for the eyes with a great soundtrack. And then there’s young Leo, and like every girl my age, I had one too many posters of him hanging in my bedroom. I removed those a long time ago, but I must say I’m still very fond of Leonardo DiCaprio (there’s no way not to).
#4. Bachelorette (2012)
The Hangover for girls, basically. Veeery nice cast: Kristen Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher and Rebel Wilson – cool gals, let’s say. Bridesmaids is similar and also pretty cool (there’s Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy – two comedy queens – it has to be cool!), but there’s too much gal jealousy involved for my taste.
#5. Crazy Stupid Love (2011)
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone would be enough for me to watch any movie, because I love them both, but this is also really funny and sexy. It has a great cast and the scene where the pieces of the puzzle all get together is just priceless!
#6. Easy A (2010)
Emma, I love you. I got a po – I got a po – I got a pocket full of sunshine, la lala la la… Funny, smart and cute. You have my word! ;)
#8. P.S. I Love You (2007)
Chick flicks, right? This one is great to steal you a tear or two. Sad but so sweet… The worst part is that you then want to find a man like this, who cares about you so much that (*spoiler alert*) even dead proves you how much he loves you. In my experience, that’s a fucking rare thing to find…
#9. Drive (2011)
Same feelings as in here. And well, Ryan Gosling for the third time (no, I am not obsessed with him).
#10. Mamma Mia! (2008)
Mamma Mia! is my cure for those days I am feeling a little low and don’t know why. Perhaps it’s tacky, and of course Pierce Brosnan sucks at singing, but, come on, it is indeed a happiness boost! The scenary, the music – who doesn’t want to be a Dancing Queen?? -, the cast… Oh, I just love it.
Ph. via Google
There are plenty more… But we’ll talk about them later. :)
Now, if you don’t know how to enjoy the rest of your Sunday, I hope any of the above suggestions helped! What about you? What’s your safe title to indulge in repeatedly for (let’s say) 2h? I’d love to know yours! :)
Have a nice week! :)
Ph. via Pinterest // Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
There’s a line in (500) Days of Summer, where Zooey Deschanel’s Summer says ‘Love is a fantasy’. And it is, indeed. May it be real or an illusion, it is a state of fantasy that you find yourself in every time you fall for someone.
I was never really lucky in love affairs, I haven’t figured exactly why, but truth is I am yet to find my ‘Prince Charming’, wherever he may be. I always thought of myself as a smart gal and for that too when I had my first boyfriend I was almost 20 years old. The relationship had its ups and downs, but it was overall great. Eventually it ended after over 4 years, because people sometimes grow in different directions and though I loved him I wasn’t in love with him anymore.
After that I embraced my single life. I enjoyed it, it was fun and liberating, but I can’t say I didn’t miss having someone special in my life. Thought, whenever I felt anything for someone it was never right.
Early this year I met a guy I fell madly in love with… and for a while I childishly believed he could be the one. It was a very innocent approach to a reality filled with red flags I decided to ignore. It didn’t work out, it was a mess. As I said before, you’ll have your heart broken, plenty of times, and there’s nothing you can do about it, just learn your lesson and move on with your life. That’s what happened to me. That’s what I’m trying to do. I lost the game, of course, because there was no way to win and I was never really aware of the rules. But life goes on. And for better or worse it was an experience that taught me a great deal about myself: it helped me reason the type of person I want to be with and the kind of relationship I look for; it made me realize that as much as I try to deny it I am indeed a romantic; and it finally assured me that I have a scary accurate intuition I should trust more often.
Everyone comes in your life for a reason and most people don’t stay. Especially when it comes to relationships. That’s the ugly truth. They are strangers you give special treatment to and allow to come into your life. More often than not they prove not to be worth your while. As a lesson I learned over the years, I’d rather have them go, and carry on with no skeletons in my closet. I may get hurt, I cry, I fight, I scream, I hold the punches I’d like to give someone until all their teeth were lying on the ground, but there’s no point in that (let’s admit I’m a bit of a drama queen) and, in the end, anger and hate withhold a lot of energy one can take to build a new chapter.
It hurts, a lot, to build a feeling based in an illusion and have reality crushing it. And it hurts even more when you realize you didn’t make any difference in that person’s life. You meant nothing at all. It’s sad and feels like a terrible waste of time and emotional investment. Yet, I guess it’s just a matter of mindset, at least so you can cope with things… Was that really the type of person you wanted to be with? Why? Did he/she really made you happy? Did the end come for valid reasons? It probably did. And even though everyone deserves a second chance, sometimes it’s not worth wasting any more time. So breathe in, breathe out, wipe those tears and be thankful. Sometimes it’s better to get rid of the ‘old’ emotional baggage and let it be, so better things can come along.
Anyway, it happens. I guess we’ve all been there… (if you have never dated a douchebag, lucky you). I still wonder, though, why so many women turn dumb and fall them… Is it some kind of desperate need to be loved, rescued (?!), appreciated, even if just a little bit? Or is it the thrill? Maybe the hope? Oh, the challenge! I think every woman likes to believe she’ll be the one changing a guy. Forget it sister, the only guy you’ll ever change is – maybe – your son (and good luck with that)! The truth is, in the end it’s our fault only for falling into these traps. We were the ones who allowed it to happen and insisted in believing in something unreal. It’s sad, but it’s true.
But well, there’s hope for the future anyway. I’m sure the world isn’t filled with men like this only and as a friend of mine says ‘to love is to have hope’…
So, here are the results of my latest visit to the saloon. You’re disappointed probably, but I’m the classy and timeless type. Anything too, well… creative, gets me bored pretty quickly, so I opted for the most natural look possible and then decided to accept Alice’s suggestion to apply these little silver studs, that I am not yet sure of. But as for the rest, it’s exactly what I wanted. I feel like a lady, they’re always perfect and work with anything. Good enough for me. :)