Africa Time

30 09 2010

Things here run on what we’ve been calling ‘Africa Time.’

When trying to get something done you inquire and ask when they think it will be done and the answer is often, “Maybe tomorrow.”  How do you argue with that?  The problem is tomorrow rolls around and there is no sign of anything being done.  No one calls so the next day you inquire again and you hear, “Maybe tomorrow.”  You wonder if tomorrow will actually be tomorrow and aren’t surprised when it isn’t.

Part of Joe’s job here is setting up the new base.  While Halliburton has been in business here for quite some time, the Wireline division is just being set up.  All equipment had to be shipped in, most coming from Angola.  The equipment arrived in Port Gentil quite awhile ago but had to clear customs.  A few months ago Joe saw one of the guys responsible for getting their things out of customs and asked when they could finally get the stuff.  The answer was, “Oh probably tomorrow.”  That was in June.  The equipment was finally delivered to the base September 24.





Sunday Afternoon

26 09 2010

We did a little off-roading to our own private beach and set up to watch the waves!

We had a beer,

chased some waves,

practised a few yoga poses,

and we even survived our first police checkstop on the way home without having to pay any bribe money!  What a great day!





We saw a couple of giraffes the other day…

20 09 2010

Too bad they were wooden.  Unfortunately the only live animals we’ve seen are dogs, goats and chickens.

On another note, we are experiencing our first African water outage.  No one knows why it happened or how long it will take to turn back on but it appears people are preparing for the long haul.  Joe and I went to stock up on bottled water at the grocery store and people were filling their trunks  (last year the water was off for a full 2 week stint.)  Luckily, our hotel has several water tanks along the side to aide with water pressure so that has kept us going.  Joe and I both took a shower tonight thinking it may be the last for the next few days.  If worse comes to worse, we’ll have to take a long lunch and head to the beach for ‘bath.’

Think of us as you turn on the water to wash your dishes, flush your toilet, or for a nice long, hot shower or bath and keep your fingers crossed that our water returns quickly!





A Simple Haircut

15 09 2010

Joe needed a haircut so we set out with our driver one afternoon to get one.  We tried to go to a place frequented by a lot of expats where a French woman cuts hair but the shop was closed and we heard she was on vacation and may not be back for quite some time.  Cardin, our driver, said he knew of another good place so we ventured into the Grande Village (the locals area of town) to this tiny little shop.  The 3 of us wandered in where Cardin inquired about the haircut and the man replied, “I don’t cut white people’s hair” and that was that!

We left the Grande Village and stopped at another place in town.  The guy agreed to cut Joe’s hair for 10 million CFAs.  Cardin felt that was expensive and when he said so the guy replied, “All white guys are 10 million.”  We were prepared to pay it (it was only $20) but the guy was going to be awhile as he was right in the middle of a girl’s weave.  We left and figured we’d head back later if we didn’t find any other options.

In the end we stopped at a Chinese hair cutters and Joe was cleaned up.   The man was like Edward Scissorhands.  He had those scissors going so fast all over the place I thought Joe was going to come out with a manicured figurine on his head.  Alas, it was a pretty standard haircut (I think the man only knows 1 cut and it just gets shorter or longer.)  All this and a quick massage for the bargain price of 7 million CFAs.





Tid Bits

9 09 2010

Often, meals here start with a basket filled with sliced baguettes and butter.  I have mentioned several times to Joe how I wish they would switch it up with some oil and vinegar as well.  Well, last night we were out for dinner and they brought out the bread with bottles of oil and vinegar.  Instead of pouring them into a plate like we’re used to, he left the bottles on the table.  When I picked one up, we realised it was a spray bottle.  So we sprayed on a little oil and then we sprayed on a little vinegar.  Weird… but it does the trick.

We are still homeless and the situation is looking bleak.  What else is there to do when feeling glum?

Spend some time at the beach!





Bumps Along the Road

2 09 2010

Our week started off great.  Joe and I had just purchased some furniture and I was surprised to find something I actually sort of liked.  We had our appliances on order and were getting ready to move into our own house!  Possession date was to be September first so the day before Joe contacted the real estate department to make our walk-through appointment to get the keys.  Real estate informed us that everything was in order and they were waiting for the landlord to return the call with a meeting time.

The landlord phoned and out of nowhere tells us that another company offered double the amount of rent (that would be $8000/month instead of the $4000 we agreed upon.)  THE DAY BEFORE OUR MOVE IN DATE HE DECIDES TO WITHDRAW!  There is speculation that he doesn’t have another renter lined up but was hoping to secure more money from us.  Regardless, he screwed us out of our house the day before we were to move in leaving us homeless yet again.

Joe and I were obviously extremely angry and upset.  I made several empty threats but in the end, it comes down to the fact that we need to restart our house search.  There are barely any houses on the market right now so we are hoping that something just right comes up relatively quick as I’m not sure how much more of this hotel living we can take.

On top of that, Joe had to make a quick trip to Libreville to get his residence card.  Last week when we re-entered Gabon he was given a temporary card and was to return a week later to obtain the real deal.  I was not going as he was flying into Libreville at 8 am and would be home by 8 pm.  When they landed and were booking their return flight they were informed that the government office decided to close that day for a monthly cleaning so they would have to wait until the next day to get the cards.  The quick trip turned into an overnight trip, which was rather inconvenient as Joe was dressed up, tie and all, and had nothing with him for an overnight stay.

I, of course, was not happy to be spending a night on my own here but had no option.  Finding a cockroach in the bedroom (the only one we’ve seen inside since we’ve been here) and having to kill it on my own before going to bed was the cherry on top of this really shitty week!  (For those of you who don’t know, I deal with all bugs by use of a vacuum as it allows me to keep my distance.  We don’t have a vacuum in the hotel so this required Joe’s shoe and a lot of courage.)

We are quickly learning that securing anything is quite difficult in Africa but we are both trying to keep a sense of humour throughout everything.