Thursday is always my least favorite day of the week for two reasons. Firstly, I have to do my weekly grocery shop and subsequent, seemingly endless, produce disinfection. Secondly, I have to have my weekly portuguese lesson which serves to remind me how crap I am at portuguese.
I spend an inordinate amount of time meticulously soaking and manhandling fruit and vegetables. Everyone seems to have their own method – 50 ml of bleach in a sink full of water and soak for 10 minutes, or 20 ml for 15 minutes. I won’t tell you what I do as it’s too dull to repeat but it does involve the kitchen timer disturbing me at regular intervals to rinse and arrange piles of uninspiring fruit and veg. We don’t get a lot of variety here – one type of lettuce, a couple of different types of apple, avocados with stones so big that there’s hardly any room for the green stuff. At an American Womens Association lunch recently, someone had grown their own rocket (arugula) and made a salad out of it, there was a stampede for it and we re still talking about it now.
I had just added the last piece of broccoli to my mountain of washed produce when my Portuguese teacher arrived for my hour of language tuition. She is a patient teacher and does her best to maintain a straight face as we all get to grips with her mother-tongue. I do my best to distract her from the text book by asking her about the people and culture of Angola. Once we ve exhausted that subject I distract her further by asking her about her mobile phone cover or from where she bought her shoes/earrings/top/pen/car. With practice I can shrink the actual Portuguese bit down to around 10 minutes. On very rare occasions I ve even managed to distract her for an entire hour, therefore not speaking a single word of portuguese. Of course this is a pointless exercise as learning this language would actually be a huge benefit. It just makes my brain ache when I try to recall things like the definite and indefinite object pronouns – I don’t even know what these are in English! I really must try harder – I ll add it to my list of New Year resolutions along with drinking more water and being nicer to my husband.
As I type this I can hear the local nightclub firing up its speakers ready for a night of ‘duff, duff, duff, duff’. The real racket will start in the next hour or so and continue until 5 or 6 in the morning. Sometimes the base is so loud that the pictures on the walls rattle and the glasses move around in the cupboards. Luckily, the air conditioning in our bedroom is old and noisy which helps to drown out the words and some of the base. Sometimes I lie in bed listening to the beat through my pillow and fantasising about hijacking a big yellow JCB from the area next to the club and driving it onto the dance floor and over the speakers.
Loud music isn’t exclusive to this particular nightclub but is enjoyed by Angolans everywhere. From weddings to children’s parties, all the locals seem determined to make themselves and their neighbours stone deaf before they’re 40. After a children’s party once, my daughter told me that she could feel the beat from the Disney tunes ‘in her chest’. I should consider putting ear defenders on my Christmas list. Not only do I really enjoy getting into bed every night (it NEVER gets boring), I also really enjoy silence. With three small children, silence is a luxury and something that seems particularly rare in Angola.
On that note, I better get into my R.E.M stage before they crank up the decibels. Good night Mum.