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March 14, 2013 / samwilson60

Angolan police to the rescue

We both slept surprisingly well considering the predicament in which we’d landed ourselves and over a morning brew we discussed our options. We really didn’t want to go back into Luanda having so successfully bypassed it once but we soon dismissed the possibility of heading south in our present state. In reality we were lucky this had happened so close to the capital – surely our best bet for getting it fixed. But where? And how? On our way out of town to the peninsula, one of the only policemen who’d stopped thus far in Angola had tried to make an issue out of the dirt on the car; we could only imagine his reaction to the smashed up windscreen. On top of that, we faced some fairly obvious linguistic barriers, and were painfully aware that even at home this would not be an easy, or cheap, thing to fix.

There was clearly no point dwelling on this, though, so we focused on the positives, our proximity to Luanda being one of them, and our ever so friendly local bobby being the other. We decided to start proceedings by paying him a visit. Perhaps he knew of a 60-series Land Cruiser windscreen specialist? Perhaps we were kidding ourselves, but we could at least try to convey to him our concerns about driving into town in such an unroadworthy state.

At the police station, we found our friend, plus his boss and two female colleagues. The first had not been a fluke – all were adorable and fully understood our predicament, despite not understanding a word that came out of our mouths. The boss reassured us, we think, about the checkpoint on the way into the city but we must have looked unconvinced, because he then went one better. He only bloody offered us our favourite bobby for the day! We were so overjoyed. Could we have heard right? What about the three people, two seats thing? No matter. Our mate was already hopping into the car (thankfully leaving the big gun behind).

We couldn’t believe our luck. Just the thought of being able to breeze through the checkpoint was enough, but it seemed he was also going to show us where we needed to go next. All at the station seemed very relaxed about the affair and confident we’d be able to get the windscreen fixed no bother, filling us with cautious optimism too.

Before we’d made it into town, our mate switched with his mate (also a policeman on the peninsula, but one with a better grasp of English). We were a little confused at the time but between them the pair explained that, as long as we gave him a lift back to the peninsula afterwards, the new guy would show us where to go and help us get it sorted. This was it – we’d fallen in love with the Angolan police.

Back on the road again, Sam’s only concern was his complete inability to see where he was going. He did a sterling job and we parked up safely outside a big 4×4 specialist’s. Inside it was instantly apparent this would blow the budget out of the water, but our bigger concern was the manager’s scepticism about being able to do the job at all. He made a few calls and we waited around, but the best he could come up with was to suggest we try in Namibia – the windscreen we needed would be much cheaper and more widely available there, he said. You haven’t seen the damage, we said. We had to do something here and now, so our policeman friend took us deeper into town, while we discussed the pros and (mainly) cons of a temporary, plastic replacement.

The driving was getting harder and our earlier optimism was fading fast, until we spotted some smashed up windscreens on the roadside, clearly advertising precisely what we needed. Once we’d seen one, we started seeing them everywhere and tried to suggest we stop to make enquiries. At one some guys even chased us down the street clambering for our business, but the policeman told us to carry on. We were trying to keep the faith, and were told “This is it!” just in time. It looked the same as all the others we’d passed but he obviously knew better. And after a few false starts, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. It turned out the original replacement windscreen they’d found but dismissed as being the wrong size was, in fact, an exact match. The switchover itself was made to look effortless and pretty professional (if you ignore the metal trim), and we paid a fraction of what we’d expected to fork out.

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Driving back to our oasis on the peninsula, we were markedly more upbeat and the policeman chattier with it. We couldn’t thank him enough. “That’s what we’re there for,” he replied, as if it had been just a normal day in the office.

Once we’d said our goodbyes, and a few more thank you’s, we pitched up in precisely the same spot as the night before and picked up where we’d left off, the only difference being the complete veto we’d placed on rooftop antics of any sort.

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One Comment

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  1. leelee / Mar 15 2013 10:37 am

    all’s well that ends well then. looking back, i reckon we’re pretty lucky that our new year party in the desert on top of christine ended up with only dents in the roof! although i seem to vaguely recall a thudding falling body too. perhaps john? sam-sam possibly remembers better than me!
    glad you’re back on track xxx

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