Our Little Kingfisher Friend

18 04 2012

Every afternoon, usually between 4 and 5, our little kingfisher friend stops by for a dip in the pool.

He sits up on the ledge of the eavestrough and every once in awhile, he hurls himself into our pool before returning to the ledge to shake off.

Sometimes he brings some friends but mostly he’s on his own.  He’s quite amusing and we look forward to his visits when we’re poolside. (Impressive for me as I normally detest birds.)

(By the way, it’s extremely difficult to get a good picture of the little guy with our point and shoot.  I think it’s time to upgrade!)

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Around Town

16 04 2012

I’ve been making a bit more of an effort as of late to take photos around town – just the regular things that don’t seem special anymore because we see them so often.  I thought I’d share some with you today.

City Hall – where Joe and I were married.

An occupied apartment building downtown

Walking the logs

The entrance to a small park on the waterfront downtown

Stalls in the market

Laundry day

People gathering to board the boat out of Port Gentil

The old lighthouse at Cap Lopez

Women heading back to the small fishing village at Cap Lopez.





A Trip to Mandji Clinic

13 04 2012

Commonly referred to as “Manky Clinic” in the expat community.

This is literally, my worst nightmare.  I am completely and utterly terrified by this clinic and I avoid going there at all costs.  I’m not one for doctors or clinics to begin with but you combine that with West Africa and it results in a legitimate phobia.

The Mandji Clinic is our company’s preferred clinic and International SOS lists it as the place to go in case of emergency.  There are 2 foreign doctors who have been in Gabon for decades in addition to African doctors .  It serves as a walk in clinic, laboratory, and hospital for expats and locals alike.  We’re advised to use this clinic for all minor ailments but if anything serious happens, we are medically evacuated to the closest hospital of international standard.  (For us, that is Johannesburg which is a little troublesome as it’s a 4.5 hour flight running 4 times a week from Libreville and you’ve heard me talk about how difficult it is to get out of Port Gentil.)

I’m sure there are far worse clinics in Gabon and Africa as this one is relatively clean but the standards are just so different from what we’re used to.  I’m sure if a Canadian inspector came to evaluate Mandji, it would fail before they even left the waiting room.

The waiting room and reception desk

The Mandji Clinic has a history of admitting expats and holding them hostage.  (Ok, perhaps I’m exaggerating a tad here but they do admit people, hook them up to IVs and advise they stay ‘just in case’ for seemingly mild-moderate maladies in which the patient would be much more comfortable at home.)  We’ve visited a few of Joe’s colleagues over the last couple of years and let me tell you, every time we walk out that door I say to Joe, “Whatever you do, never let them check me in to that place.  You get me on the first flight to South Africa!”

  Padded doors – I assume for those who try to escape.

Typical complaints are terribly unfriendly nursing staff, a high misdiagnosis rate, overmedication, and lack of compassion.  Personally, we haven’t had any really bad experiences yet but I do avoid going unless it’s absolutely necessary.  This week, with Spain just around the corner and some stomach issues, I decided to suck it up and go for the first time since last October.  Luckily, they didn’t try to admit me (yet) and hopefully the results will show nothing serious.





Splurges

6 04 2012

Most people are often shocked and surprised at how expensive it is to live in Port Gentil.  I guess when one hears ‘Africa’ they assume it’s poor and it must be cheap.  Currently, Luanda, Angola (to the South of us on the West Coast)  is ranked the most expensive city  in the world.  In 2011, Libreville was ranked 19th, the second most expensive city to live in in Africa, ahead of Paris, France and Brisbane, Australia.  Many would also argue that Port Gentil is even more expensive than Libreville because it’s the petroleum capital of the country and we’re sort of an island which makes shipping more difficult.

We don’t do a lot of shopping here – in part because there is almost nothing to shop for – but we do have to buy food and that is typically where we notice the extreme expense.  This week I found asparagus in the grocery store and it was in good condition, ie, not soggy and rotten.  I decided to splurge and go for it as it had been months since we’ve had it.

And splurge I did – those 15 asparagus spears set me back $14.  At least they were good!  This week I also purchased a tiny head of iceberg lettuce (the size of my 2 fists) and when I cut in to it to wash it, it was completely rotten in the centre – $11 straight in to the garbage.

At some point down the road you learn to ignore the prices every once in awhile.  On the positive side, when we travel, it makes everything seem ridiculously cheap.





Smooching

27 03 2012

I’ve noticed a lot of really loud ‘smooching’ sounds around town lately.

For example, every morning we walk by a road construction crew and as we pass there is inevitably several loud SMOOCH sounds from the working men.  I notice it if I park outside of the grocery store parking lot as there’s a new apartment going up and generally a lot of men around and even as I stood on the street waiting for a friend to pick me up, taxis slowed and men SMOOCHed out the open window.

Annoyed, I brought it up to Joe a few months back and he said one of his local colleagues SMOOCHed him on the platform, apparently to get his attention.  It bothered him as well.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that a SMOOCH must be the equivalent to the whistle in North America (and perhaps elsewhere.)  You can use a loud whistle to get someone, or a group’s, attention or the whistle we all know if you want to express that someone is good-lookin.

I tend to find it bothersome and not at all flattering (especially when I’m dripping in sweat at 8 am) – as do most of my friends.

Men, can’t you think of a more pleasant way to get women’s attention?





What’s wrong with these photos, photos?

22 03 2012

I borrowed the title from Ellen.

A jewelry store in Port Gentil.

"Work together to preserve the environment."





What else could you possibly need?

19 03 2012

Did I tell you that Aldo has opened a store in Port Gentil.

Shocking, I know.

I didn’t really believe it until I physically checked it out myself.  I figured it might be a fake and they’d be selling second hand shoes but it’s actually an exact replica of an Aldo at home.

This is crazy because we literally don’t have a single other store or restaurant from home.  Actually, the only thing recognizable is Western Union.  (And perhaps the Casino supermarket if you are from France.)

I made my inaugural purchase today.

It was fairly normal except…

1.  The sizes on the rack are bigger (38 instead of 36),
2.  The shoes are probably close to double the cost, and
3.  I actually had to ask her to ring up my purchase.  She just asked for the money without scanning anything into the computer and wasn’t going to give me a receipt.

I still can’t quite believe it’s here – I mean we hardly have stable water and electricity!

 Either way, I’ll take it.  Gives me something to do when Joe’s away.