Kristin Pires and I are in Luanda, the capital city of Angola. The flight from Joburg was flawless, but our arrival at the airport wasn't quite that. We walked into a mad rush at passport control to get immigration forms. It sorted out eventually, then we waited maybe an hour and half for Kristin's backpack to appear at baggage claim.

After that, though, it was back to flawless. Rotary's partner on the Million Dollar Dream project is WorldVision, a Seattle-based relief and development organization with an extensive operation here in Angola, as well as projects throughout the developing world. A WorldVision driver picked us up and brought us to the Hotel Tivolli. We checked in, and then met with John Yale, WorldVision's country director for Angola.

John told us a lot about Rotary's project in particular and WorldVision's activities in Angola in general. Those details will come in a later post -- this is just a quick update while I have a few minutes of Internet access before we head out to dinner.

We're going to have dinner with John, then hang out tomorrow morning waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. Once we're all together, were going to take a quick tour around the Luanda area, and visit WorldVision's headquarters here. Tomorrow evening, we attend the Rotary Club of Luanda's regular meeting.

Wednesday, we head to Huambo, where our Rotary project is based. John has promised that we'll be able to see the entire distribution chain for the seed and fertilizer that District 5230, the Rotary Club of Luanda and the Rotary Foundation have raised $250,000 to buy.

It's all real now!

More later...

Well plane hit by lightning by no damage. This is an exciting trip! Steve, Dustin and I have experienced the assistance of Ambien and after 24 hours of travelling feel great. I've slept at least 9 hours but I can sleep anywhere. Ready to apply Deet to repel the welcoming herds of mosquitoes of Luanda.. We are being met by World Vision then it is off to an orientation and to meet up with Steve blum and Kristin pires in Luanda. Tour of city WV headquarters and the Rotary Club of Luanda,Hard to believe this is real! Plane for luanda packed with business people maybe 250 or an Airbus there is a lot I want to know about this developing country.

I can't believe it is here. In a little over 24 hours we will be half way around the world another time zone another season. Oh the things we will see!

The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is Cape Town's commercial showcase, with malls, restaurants and a lively promenade. Rotary makes it mark there, sponsoring a signpost that shows you exactly how far you are from most of the rest of the world.

Friday was a perfect day, mild temperatures, low humidity and a gentle sun. Today it's back to winter. Not bad, very San Francisco-like. Cool with cloud cover and rain expected later on.

We took the ferry to Robben Island today. It's an island about 13 kilometers from Cape Town, where the former apartheid regime kept its political prisoners. Former inmates talk about their experiences, and what it was like in one of the world's most notorious prisons.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in custody, the bulk of that time at Robben Island, where he and other resistance movement leaders spent their days quarrying limestone under very harsh conditions.

The leaders were kept in small cells, in a high security section of the prison. Sometimes sleeping on the cold floor for years at a time, very few privileges. Tuberculosis was a risk, eye sight damage from the constant limestone glare was common.

The prison was shut down with the end of the apartheid regime. Now it's a world heritage site, and a living memorial.

Arrived in Cape Town this morning after a 12 hour flight from Heathrow. Picked up a car, stopped at our hotel for a quick shower, then headed over to the Royal Cape Yacht Club for the Rotary Club of Signal Hill meeting.

Good fellowship and interesting conversations. Their scheduled speaker didn't show up, so I gave a quick overview of our project, and we talked about it some. One good piece of advice was to take a close look at the distribution logistics in Huambo when we get there. They've had experience with similar projects in South Africa and elsewhere. Told us one story about seed left rotting by the side of the road because no one had a truck. Some of it was dragged out on skids, but most of it was left behind.

We talked with PDG Peter Hugo, currently foundation chair for District 9350, and also a member of the Signal Hill club. He gave us some good background information about the district and the Luanda club. Had very good things to say, and offered to help out if he could.

Another excellent bit of advice, which we took, was to waste no time in taking the cable car ride up to the top of Table Mountain. Today is a rare, warm and clear winter day in Cape Town. The clouds that usually wrap Table Mountain this time of year were nowhere to be seen this afternoon.

Kristin Pires, Rotary Club of Tulare Sunrise, on Table Mountain

It was spectacular. 360-degrees of visibility, with perfect views of Cape Town itself, Point Cape, the Atlantic coast and the mountains ranging south and inland.

Steve Blum, RC Monterey Pacific, overlooking Cape Town from Table Mountain

Had a quick dinner at our hotel, and now two days of travel and a nine hour time change are kicking in. There's a 7:00 am Rotary Club meeting -- RC Capetown Waterfront -- tomorrow. Might or might not make it, depends on how the jet lag goes.

More pictures from Table Mountain, courtesy of Kristin Pires...


We'll be in a different hotel than planned for our first two nights (15 & 16 June) in Angola:

Hotel Tivoli
Phones: 244-222-370070 / 335645
Fax: 244-222-335644
Address: Rua da Missão, 85, Luanda

No change at this point for our last night, 19 June 2009. We're told a WorldVision driver will meet us when we arrive at the airport in Luanda. We'll be arriving in two groups -- Kristin Pires and I on Monday, 15 June, and Nina Clancy, Steve Koobatian and Dustin Koobatian on 16 June.

Kristin Pires and I have made it as far as Heathrow airport in London. Brief hassle at SFO when United overbooked our flight to London and started to involuntarily bump people off of the plane. There had been an earlier cancellation on, I think, US Air, and when they starting re-arranging seating to re-book people, my seat assignment evaporated. Or so it seems. But it was straightened out and we both made it onboard and to London without incident.

We've confirmed our seats on the flight to Cape Town. We're flying South African Airways there, it's about a 12 hour flight. Looking forward to arriving!

Kristin Pires (Rotary Club of Tulare Sunrise) and I are leaving today, flying out of SFO this evening. We'll be meeting Nina and Steve in Luanda next week. Here's our trip plan...


In Huambo
1. See co-op(s) that will distribute and manage Rotary seed and fertilizer
2. Verify Rotary branding and public awareness re Huambo project
3. Verify seed and fertilizer distribution chain
4. See warehouse with seed and fertilizer earmarked for Rotary
5. Establish ongoing communication and reporting process
6. Future needs assessment for second half of project
7. See a smallholding that will be receiving Rotary seed and fertilizer
8. See co-op that has been in operation for a longer time


Itinerary for Steve Blum & Kristin Pires


Tuesday 9 June 2009
United Airlines 930
Depart: 7:17pm San Francisco, CA San Francisco International (SFO)
Arrive: 1:35pm (Wednesday 10 June 2009) London, United Kingdom London Heathrow (LHR)

Wednesday 10 June 2009
Virgin Atlantic 8221, operated by South African Airways -- SA 221.
Depart: 9:00pm London, United Kingdom London Heathrow (LHR)
Arrive: 10:10am (Thursday 11 June 2009) Cape Town, South Africa Cape Town International (CPT)

Monday, 15 June 2009
South African Airways 302
Depart CPT at 06:00
Arrive JNB at 08:00

Monday, 15 June 2009
South African Airways 54
Depart JNB at 09:45
Arrive LAD at 12:25

Saturday, 20 June 2009
South African Airways 55
Depart LAD at 14:10
Arrive JNB at 18:25

Saturday 20 June 2009
Virgin Atlantic 602
Depart: 8:40pm Johannesburg, South Africa Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)
Arrive: 6:50am (Sunday 21 June 2009) London, United Kingdom London Heathrow (LHR)

Thursday 25 June 2009
United Airlines 93
Depart: 2:10pm London, United Kingdom London Heathrow (LHR)
Arrive: 5:11pm San Francisco, CA San Francisco International (SFO)


Cape Town:
The Village Lodge Portfolio
Tel: +27 (0)21 421 1106
49 Napier Street
De Waterkant
Cape Town
South Africa 8001

Hotel Alvalade
Avenida Comandante Gika
Phone: +244-222-327470
Fax: +244-222-327480

Hotel Roma Ritz
Avenida da Republica
Phone: 244-241-223816/7/8
Fax: 244-241-223820

I cannot believe that our trip is just around the corner. Ten days and counting! I am looking forward to meeting the members of the Luanda Rotary Club and John Yale, World Vision, Angola. This is going to be an amaxing adventure!
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