The Time Has Come

10 05 2012

My friends, the time has come.

I know I left you burning with suspense for a way too long, but…

The new blog is FINALLY finished.

This will be my very last post on Into West Africa and while it’s a little bittersweet, I’m excited to move forward!

Come on over!

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For the times, they are a changin’…

2 04 2012

And so is this blog!

Back in 2010 when I started this blog, I really only expected my mom to read it; perhaps a few other friends and family too.  As time went on, other people started stopping by and reading and I began reading their blogs as well.  (Who knew the blogging community could be so cool?!)  Into West Africa was growing and I decided I really liked writing it and chronicling our experiences.

That has led me to today where I tell you that we have some BIG HUGE changes happening around here.

1.  NEW NAME

I started thinking about this way back in November when we were working on the move to Indonesia.  Obviously, when/if we move we won’t be ‘into West Africa’ anymore.  I needed something that would travel with us no matter where we ended up and so I’ve come up with something new.

No, I’m not going to tell you right now!  

2.  A MOVE TO BLOGGER

I’ve really enjoyed my time here at WordPress and it’s generally been pretty good to me so I’m not leaving due to hard feelings however, it has restricted my creativeness a little bit.  I’m ok with computers but I’m not that good and in order to flex my creative muscles over here, I need to know a lot more than I do.  Blogger will allow me to do that so I’ll be heading over there with my new name and address.  

No, I’m not giving that to you right now either.

  (I am really going to miss that map on WordPress though!  Blogger, if you are reading, get on it!)

3.  A NEW LOOK

This one is kind of a given being that I’m changing the name AND moving to Blogger but I want my blog to be a reflection of me through how it looks, not just the words I put on it.  The templates that WordPress and Blogger give just seem a bit too impersonal so I’ve got a graphic designer working on a brand new look for my brand new blog.

All of these changes are coming in the near future.  How near?  I really can’t be sure.  These things take time.  I’ve been working on moving all my posts from Into West Africa over to the new blog and the designer has started working on the new look.  Hopefully soon I’ll be able to reveal it all to you!

Until then, I’ll let the suspense fester away.





A Tale of Heartbreaking Disappointment

8 02 2012

A few weeks back I was preparing to tell you some BIG news.  Something Joe & I had been working on for months and were so excited about.

You see, several months ago we’d been approached about a move that would take us out of Gabon and into our dream destination, Indonesia.  This new location would allow us to travel so much more easily and the job would be a promotion for Joe which he was so ready for.  We were invigorated at the thought of leaving Gabon and all of it’s troubles and continuing our adventure on another continent.  Anyone we spoke to loved their stay in Indonesia and raved that it was one of the best places to be an expat.  We were sold!

We had to battle for this move.  You see, this region didn’t want to let Joe go but we pushed and pushed as we knew this was the move for us.  This battle stretched over 3 painful months when, finally it was confirmed; we were being released and the move was approved.  Joe & I were elated but until everything was signed we didn’t want to say anything.

And then the phone call came…

The Indonesian government requires all expatriates to be 30 years old in order to obtain a work permit.  We’re 28.  Our company told us they’d apply for an exception and while it has been done before, they don’t make exceptions very often.  We prepared ourselves for the worst and patiently awaited the verdict.

The decision came today that we were rejected.

I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed we are.  We had begun dreaming of our life in Asia and we were so ready to take the next step.  Our hearts and minds began to leave Gabon as we prepared for our move.  Now, our patience has worn thin and the thought of staying in Gabon indefinitely is just so depressing.  (It’s not even that we hate it that much but we’d started to check out and feel relief at all of the issues we’d get to leave behind here.)

So now starts the process of working out our next steps.  What do we want to do?  Where do we want to go?  How much time are we willing to spend here?  What is our top priority, leaving Gabon or finding an ideal location?

I’m thinking we’ll discuss these over a bottle of red tonight…





2011

1 01 2012

2011 was an eventful year for us…

Here’s to hoping 2012 brings us adventure (on the positive side of the spectrum) and many new travels!

AND… a very Happy New Year to all of you!





Hello World!

27 10 2011

Joe & I are FINALLY back online!

We had internet at our last house provided by a new company called WiFly as the main internet company, Gabon Telecom, didn’t service our area.  We left that house months ago and when we did we recommended they take the satellite and hold it for our new house.  Of course, no one at Joe’s office followed up on this.

We moved into our new home and immediately asked to get our internet reconnected.  The people in Joe’s office gave us the “maybe next week” response a few times before it came to light that they had NEVER paid WiFly for the service at our last house and now WiFly was refusing to transfer our service until they were paid (of course!)  Joe went to see the finance department and they told him they’d pay the bill tomorrow.  We heard that story for 2 months.

Tempers flared, frustrations bubbled over and in the end, they decided to use Gabon Telecom instead.  (I didn’t think it was that hard to pay a darn bill but apparently it is!)  Gabon Telecom gave us the “maybe next week” answer several times until yesterday when Joe & the internet guy from the office followed the technician around from job to job ensuring that they stopped at our house along the way.  The connection was finished in a matter of seconds but it didn’t work.  Apparently when they told us they couldn’t provide internet at the last house, Halliburton paid to secure a telephone number and continued paying on a monthly basis to hold it.  Even though we were paying to reserve the number, Gabon Telecom decided to give it away because we weren’t using it &%&^$%^!!!!!  Things got a little ugly and a threat to take them to court was made but by the end of the day, we were online!

Internet is a necessity when you live thousands of miles and several time zones away from your family and friends and I’m baffled at the thought of what people did before it was invented.  I felt so disconnected from the rest of the world and unfortunately the world goes on even when I can’t follow it!  I’m so excited for the skype dates to commence to see what everyone has been up to the last 3 months!

I am back!





The Conclusion – To Menagere or Not?

12 08 2011

Awhile back I posted about menageres (aka maids) and expressed my uncertainty about hiring one.  I went back and forth over the past year and then an opportunity presented itself – a friend of mine was going back to Australia after 3 years in Port Gentil and of course, she was letting her staff go.  (She was an extreme – she held a staff of 6: 2 menageres, 2 guards, a nanny of sorts & a tutor.  She started with the guards and 1 menagere and each year added on!)

Christiana came highly recommended.  She worked with my friends for the entirety of their stay in Gabon and was reliable and trustworthy and the timing was perfect – our friends left in July and we arrived in August ready for our new apartment.

Currently, she is set to work Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm for a salary of 150 000 per month ($300.)  Obviously, we don’t need someone that often so many days I’ll send her home at lunch but we wanted to make sure that we didn’t give her too slack a schedule because then it might be hard to change afterwards.

There have been a couple of perks aside from not having to clean that I didn’t foresee:

  • When we need something done at the house (a plumber, electrician, A/C maintenance, etc.) I don’t have to sit around waiting all day wondering when they are going to show up because Christiana is here.
  • If there is a problem (like our new oven not working) I can explain to Christiana and she will phone someone for me so that I don’t have to do the dreaded French phone calls.  (Christiana does not speak English but she worked with English people the last 3 years so she’s a bit more intuitive when it comes to figuring out what I’m saying if I’m not sure of the words in French.)
  • She is great at ironing so even my sheets get pressed.
  • I’ve been getting a ton of practice speaking in French and she corrects me and teaches me new words all of the time.

 

So far, so good and fingers crossed that it continues on this path!

 

 





FAQ’s

29 07 2011

It’s inevitable, we get asked a lot of questions about a random assortment of things regarding our life in Gabon.  Here are a few of the most popular:

1.  How long’s the flight?

  • Well for starters, it’s several flights:  Port Gentil – Libreville – Frankfurt – Toronto – Edmonton  (It is possible to go through Paris however it takes longer and CDG airport sucks so we always try to go through Frankfurt.)
  • It generally ends up being about 32 hours from start to finish.  Yes – 32 hours.
2.  Do you like it?
  • This one’s a a bit trickier.  Both Joe and I always answer with an “It’s okay,” and generally, it is ok.  It’s different, it can be hard and frustrating but it’s ok.
3.  How long are you going to be there?
  • Joe signed a contract for ‘up to 3 years.’  This means it could be more or less.  We’ve been there a year now and we’ll probably start looking for another placement next year.  Maybe in Africa, maybe not.  (It’s not really up to us!)
4.  Is it hot there?
  • Well, yes – it is Africa afterall!  We live on the equator.  While the temperatures are relatively stable (25 in the dry season and up to 34 in the rainy season) the humidity is often 80 – 100%.  In the rainy season most days ‘feel like’ 42 degrees Celsius.  (Kind of like windchill but the opposite for those Canadian readers!)  It never, and I mean never, dips below 20.
5.  What do you eat?
  • Hmmm – not a whole lot of anything good!  The local cuisine isn’t very desirable.  Good produce and meat are hard to come by (if not impossible) and we lack most of the shelved goods we’d find at home.  We do eat a lot of pasta, frozen veggies and rice, pizza every Sunday from a local middle eastern restaurant, green beans, potatoes and the local white fish – capitaine.  There are restaurants and yes we do go to them regularly but most serve the same things.  It’s a challenge – probably one of the biggest we deal with regularly there.
6.  What do you do for fun?
  • We go to the beach, we hang out with friends, we watch movies from hard drives, attend parties and gatherings, go out for dinner and that’s about it.  There isn’t a lot to do but we seem to fill the time just fine
7.  Do you feel safe?
  • Yes.  I can drive myself around town and go shopping alone.  I feel fine when Joe is out of town and generally never worry for my own safety.  (Obviously, there are certain areas of town I wouldn’t go alone and I try not to drive by myself at night solely for the fact that if the car broke down I might be vulnerable.  But that is like anywhere.)  We don’t have to live in a compound and we do have 24 hour guards at our house (every expat does) but they don’t really do a lot.  Some people find this hard to believe after all of our robberies but usually, people want our stuff, not us.
That’s it for now – if you think of anything else, post a comment!