Monthly Archives: February 2008

Blythe and Brad’s Braai! – Luanda – Day 12

So, Blythe and Brad have one sleep left. Blythe is the DD Project Manager at BP, and is responsible for all new projects from DD’s perspective. Brad is the A/V VC guy DD onsite (Audio/Visual Video Conference), and my one house mate. Well, both of them are looking really forward to getting outta here, even if it is only for a week for Brad. Blythe has 2 weeks leave. Lucky for him. Guess that’s what working in Luanda for an extended period does to you. 🙂

Day 12 - Satelites

Satellite City! Luanda’s Roof Top View!

Well, the braai was pretty good. Brad cooked, and Blythe supervised, as any good Project Manager would! And Sly and I just chatted about everything. Blythe however was a bit quick off the mark, especially with regards to the heat, and insisted we take the meat off early, which resulted in us putting it back on a few minutes more after we were half way through dinner! 🙂 Nice dude.

So, the satellite dishes are quite an interesting and amazing sight to me. Having grown up in South Africa, first Johannesburg then Cape Town, you never really saw satellite dishes there, unless they were on buildings, and even then not too many. Back in the day before DSTV it was a very uncommon site. If you had a dish back then it would typically be one the bigger ones, and that was a sure sign that you were absolutely loaded. Now days you see loads of smaller white dishes around as a lot of people have satellite reception and it is far more affordable. You still don’t see many big dishes around in South Africa, if any.

However in Luanda, you see loads of the small white dishes, but you also see hundreds of these bigger ones littering the skyline and roof tops of many a building. We have 2 fairly large ones behind us. It is just weird to think that what in South Africa is perceived as a luxury and a sign of wealth and elitism, is seen so commonly here. Whether the average person here is using the dish, or it is a communal one I am not too sure, but it is really interesting to see. And the funny thing, they all point in different directions. Obviously different services. We do get Multichoice/DSTV up here and also another provider called CaboTV, which runs a multitude of channels, quite a few from DSTV in fact, but others too, a lot in fact in Portuguese. Surprise Surprise!

Anyway, it was a good evening, and signified a good beginning of the end of the week. 🙂

Tomorrow is Friday . . . Yay!!

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Our First “Shop” Lunch – Luanda – Day 11

Today we decided to go out and get our own lunch. After having spoken to Blythe about where he goes, he recommended a SuperMercado – store, very similar to a Seven Eleven / Spar/ pretty much a cafe type shop. He said you could get rolls and cheese and meats and you make your own. So we thought we’d give it a shot.

I was teasing Bradley about why he never bought food off the side of the road, as when we arrived at work in the morning one of the BP guys was chomping down on a really good looking sandwich, and as we left the building for lunch there was a lady with a plastic bucket selling food on the side of the road. It looked exactly like the sandwich he was eating. Brad reckons that he had had the runs here before, when he was sick for like 3 days and there was no way he was going to tempt fate again!! 🙂 He also stated that Freddy’s system was well used to the bugs already. I laughed and said I was quite keen to give it a bash. He warned me, and suggested I give my tummy more time to adapt first!

Well, they had foot-long baguettes, and sliced cheese and sliced ham, and a few other bits and bobs, and we got 2 rolls and a whole lot of cheese and ham and took it back to the office with 2 cokes and a Youki – aka Pinenut. Well, this was considerably cheaper. The entire meal cost us 600 Kwanzas. So 200 each, so about 20 bucks each. Not too bad at all. My Youki was 50 Kwanzas, so R5, and that was very reasonable, and then the foot itself worked out to R15 each. Man, pretty sweet considering we usually pay over R100 per person per lunch!

Well, there was one downfall, we didn’t have a knife. So it was a hand job to get the sandwiches made. It was pretty good actually, so that might become a regular event. Don’t get wrong, the “cafeteria” lunches are good, but I am quite into my “local is lekker” thing. I might even get around to getting a sammie off the side of the road soon! 🙂

Work was good, and I left early to go another meeting. Man, traffic was stupid, surprise surprise, and I got home around 17h15. Just in time too, as man, that foot long was causing about a foot long’s worth of damage to my stomach!! Haha, Brad and Sly will piss themselves when I tell them! It appears my system didn’t handle the food too well then I guess. Well, at least I can say that my system is now getting used to what is on offer here! 😮

Dinner was take away from Aldar, a Lebanese Restaurant, and it was pretty good. 7900 Kwanzas for a 3 person meal. So R260 per head. That’s not too bad! I guess.

Oh oh! Toilet time, second call! 🙁

Gotta go.

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

My First Issue – Luanda – Day 10

Well today I had my first issue at BP. Not a personal issue, but a work related one. As in a site was down. And for the first time it was truly apparent how on the other side I was. Firstly I have pretty much always been in a technical role. Always getting my hands dirty and breaking and kinda fixing things myself. Even in my last job with my old lady I still pretty much maintained my technical ability. This was now different. Instead of being in a technical role, I was now responsible for the management and resolution of such issues. Pretty weird I gotta admit, but a learning experience never the less, and I think I passed this test. For now. But then again, it was a small issue, so not really worth measuring on.

Day 10 - Heat

Shame, Cape Town’s Hot? Try 34 degrees at 20h36! 21h36 ZA time! Now you know what I mean by heat! Gotta luv the GWM display though! 😉

The one thing that was very apparent was the language barrier. Man, the guys here do speak English – just – but we tend to land up conversing in “Ingleish” – aka Pidgin English. And today it was an issue. Now, I can’t see them improving their English very quickly, why do they need to, as it is their country, so I really need to start improving my Porra! I’ve got a CD pack, with tutorial book – that I received as a farewell present from Mea at my last company – and I’ve got a phrase book and a few other resources that I got off the net, so it’s gonna be fun!

Plus if we’re gonna go to the Rio Carnival next year, early plans with the lads here in the house already, we’re definitely gonna have to get our tongue around the language . . . to get our tongue around! 😉 hehe

Outside of that, Sly got back from the FPSO with a few pics, so I’ll see if there is anything I can put up. Disclaimer and all that shit as you can imagine. He really enjoyed it though, and was blown away by it. But, hey, who wouldn’t be blown away by being on a 12 story high structure, the size of a block, floating in the middle of the ocean?? Amazing!! As always he has received praise all round! Good lad!

Well, that’s me. Out.

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Holy Shit – 101 Hits in one day!!

Okay, now that’s got nothing to do with Luanda, but man, that is seriously impressive. Not even I thought that I would get that many hits. In fact I didn’t even think I would get any hits. Okay, maybe a few, but not quite like this.

101 Hits

That means that my blog is even more popular than my parties! Hmmm, so, basically I guess that means that my “mates” find my experiences more interesting than my personality! Bummed Man! Like seriously bummed.

I’ll remember that next time I have a party. Instead of inviting my mates, I’ll just blog about what a great party it was instead! haha 🙂

Well, brief distraction over, back to the reality that is Luanda I guess! 😮

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

A very quick day – Luanda – Day 9

So today was just weird. Last night Bradley went outside around 03h00 for a quick smoke, and he said it was surreal. There was no traffic anywhere. The entire was quiet. No cars on any of the roads. That’s just plain weird!

Today I went with Barrie through to the airport to see him off. It was really quick. We live only a few kms from the airport, but usually it takes you about 30 mins to get there at least. Typically we leave the house at 10h45 to get there by 11h30, but today it took us less than 10. Barrie was relieved, but in a way sad to be going I think. This has been his baby. He has developed and grown the environment here for the guys for close on the last 6 months I think and that is one hell of an achievement, so Hats Off To Him really! So in retrospect I think he was glad to be leaving. Back to the normality of Cape Town, along with his family, but at the same point in time, sad to be leaving a piece of yourself here too. Though I don;t think he is going to be missing the costs!!

Well, the traffic respite was short lived! My trip from the airport took me approx 45 minutes. Yet again, a journey of a few kms. Just insane. Back to “Canteen” for lunch with Bradley and Maria, and then a very interesting Safety presentation at work. BP are definitely their safety seriously that is for sure!

It was quite an experience, my first group session, and things definitely work differently here! The entire presentation was done in English, and I was quite surprised by this, but then again, I suppose this was put together in the UK, so it would make sense. I was definitely enlightened by the level of fluency of English in our division. A lot of people tend to indicate they don’t speak it, but they were all quite vocal at the meeting. Some very vocal, and pretty soon it had turned into a free for all, which was entertaining to sit back and watch. I mentioned one point to Blythe that I wanted to make, and he told me under no circumstances was I to even think of talking. Not that he was worried about my question, or representation, he didn’t want me to fuel the already raging fire! haha So a 15 page slide or so turned into a 1 hour presentation. Nice!!

Right now, I am shattered, and that would probably be due to the 02h30 time I went to sleep last night! And that was due to me mucking about with my wordpress blog site the entire evening!

Anyway, I’m off to get some zzzz’s.

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

7 Days Down – Luanda – Day 8!!

So one week in . . . Well, today we just chilled at the house most of the day. We went shopping at Bellas Shopping Centre after finding both Fresca and Shoprite to the North closed. Bellas is amongst Talatona, the really new cluster housing complex area. With a proper suburb feel and all, except that everything has 8 foot high walls with guards and security fences. So, not much of a truly neighbourhood feel, but close enough. The houses here are really nice, think golf course type estates and you a good idea. They all pretty much have tennis courts, swimming pools and garden areas.

Day 8 - Market

A general market scene somewhere in Luanda!

There is a Shoprite in Bellas, hence the reason for the journey. Also so I could have a butchers (look). Bellas is located literally in the same general area as the departure point for Mussulo, so the route taken to get there was very similar. This time however was much quicker. Must b a Sunday thing I reckon. Bellas is truly mind blowing. Not that it is anything spectacular design wise, but dynamics wise it is fascinating. There are loads of people there, yet the general area doesn’t appear to be the same. The shops are really fancy and if you step back and think that 10 minutes ago you were passing through the outskirts of town, being complete slums and shacks and shanty towns, here you enter an “upper class” haven of shops, MacDonalds rip-offs, movie theatres, and then a Shoprite on the one side. Think Game at Canal Walk! Truly mind boggling stuff. Shoprite is exaclt the same as back home in Cape Town, with pretty much the same items for sale, just at seriously inflated prices. I reckon these guys are laughing up here! The queues were mental and once again we were stuck for half-an-hour waiting to pay. That however would be due to the Trainee cashier we had! Bummer!

We saw a little bit of excitement during the day when some chick rear ended a white guy in a 4×4 Double Cab right in front of our casa. She then proceeded to scream and shout at him. He however wasn’t going to have any of it, and as soon as the road was clear in front of him he pulled away. She tried blocking his way and almost got run over as he kept moving forward and she was standing in front of his vehicle. When she started hitting his bonnet he had had enough of being polite, so put foot. She was literally on the back foot and we expected to see her go under at any second, but she wisely moved at the last moment and he sped away down the road. Some dude in a car travelling the other way, jumped out, pulled out a gun, and let a round go into the air as the bakkie drive down the road. Man, quite entertaining. Definitely the Wild West here! Well the police arrived later, but not before the traffic warden had promptly fucked up all the traffic in the area, so it was just chaos. Anyway, we didn’t see the rest as it was down the road from us. But still . . . a bit of light Sunday action. 🙂

Anyway, so one week. Hmmm, quite a lot to take in for a beginner, and now time to put my thoughts in order. So thus far, Luanda is a fascinating place. A real diversity from the wealth of the expats to the slums of locals on the outskirts. The incredible development going on everywhere with buildings going up in leaps and bounds. The complete and utter lack of infrastructure and support for the locals. The super inflated housing prices, and unbelievably expensive restaurants and general shops. The number of seriously fancy 4x4s on the road, Range Rover Sports’, Toyota Land Cruiser’s, BMW 4.8is X5’s, Mercedes ML65 AMG’s, Land Rover Discovery’s, Double Cabs, etc, etc, etc. It is truly unreal to see these guys driving around in these vehicles, yet the drivers don’t typically live in fancy houses, but rather slums or very middle class flats. The friendliness of the locals in general (my limited experience of them that is), the weirdness of seeing all these black people speaking Porra, and then the general lack of concern for the surroundings and environment, to the overall relaxed party attitude.

Definitely a lot to take in, but as I begin to get more used to life here, and fit in and make more friends and travel and take loads of photos (when I come back with my proper camera), I will be able to explain and elaborate on my thoughts of my surroundings and experiences of my interactions with the locals and various other people.

Well, that’s it for now. Tomorrow is another day – as they say!

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Paradise “Island”- Luanda – Day 7!!

So today we headed to Mussulo Island, or Ilha de Mussulo. We met Blythe and the BP folks we met the other at the Chicala residences and headed from there in a BP Organised bus with driver. Gotta love the Petroleum Industry! 🙂

Day 7 - Paradise 1

“Paradise” – Ihla de Mussulo

The journey of about 15kms took us around 50 mins that morning due to the Great Traffic that we so love in Angola. It was crazy. You literally never go over 20 kph. It is insane. There are 2 ways of getting to the Island. One way is to drive, we chose the easier route – by boat! You leave from a jetty and get a quick speed boat ride across the lagoon, and voila, you step onto a little bit of paradise. We immediately hit the drinks at the bar, suprise, suprise, and parked off for a bit.

A little later we missioned across the island on foot, to the West Coast (Atlantic) where we went swimming. Wow, the water was amazing! Mid 20s and fantastic vis (visibility). There is virtually no swell and even 6 metres into the water it is fantastically clear. I have to get my ass into a dive suit to do some diving. Pronto! That is a definite! 🙂 The beach is stunning and definitely competes with the likes of Mozambique for sure. There are little huts that are actually beach bars, but were closed, which was a bummer as it is really cool to sit there and chill. The sun made an appearance, actually quite a long one, and for the first time since arriving in Luanda I truly felt the effect of the rays. Man, it gets hot, and I reckon you will get pretty harshly burnt up here. I suppose I am just south of the equator, literally 1000 kms, so it would be stronger here than anywhere else. Well, it was great. Luckily the one BP dude had bought sun cream, otherwise we all would have been fucked, but it was wicked. I really couldn’t get my head around this. Being just south of Luanda and all it’s chaos, and yet chilling here in the calm, quiet, warm  waters of the Atlantic. Unreal!

No one ever said Life in Africa was going to easy!! 😉

We got a call from Sly who said the FPSO was the most amazing thing he had ever seen in his entire life, and he sounded pretty chuffed to be on it. But he also conceded that it appeared he was only going to be back on Tuesday! Told you so. 🙂 Hopefully they do let him go though, as they have a habit of keeping the good guys onboard, and I’m sure they’re gonna love the service they get from Sly, as he is just really good at what he does!

Back at the lagoon side lunch was awesome. It was a buffet that had everything. Freshly grilled fish, carpaccio, braai’ed chops, stews, chicken, prawns, salads, pasta, chips, schnitzel, and loads more. Absolutely fantastic. I had 2 helpings and then was stuffed! Rachel was given a cooling off care of 3 buckets of ice and water from the ice buckets for the wine.

Day 7 - Ice Day 7 - Swan

Cooling off and Mucking about on the Swan!

Afterwards Bradley and Neal gave the Swan horns. “Watch out for the rough waters lads!” Bradley proceeded to dump his phone in the water, not a good idea, but luckily for him it was already off, so no worry of electrical damage, just water at this stage.

The boat journey back almost became quite entertaining when some German, who was pissed and giving everyone horns and being obnoxious, got on out boat, but we set Paul the Mad Scotsman on him, and we got rid of him. The car journey back to Chicala took another hour or so. This is definitely going to take getting used to. At first you think you have gone miles, as typically when you spend a long time in a car moving, you do travel a fair distance, but here, no way man, literally 3 kms can take you 30 mins or so. It’s seriously unbelievable.

Once back home we decided not to venture out as we were all really tired and knackered after the day. I think it was the sun and all the day’s activity. Dinner was leftovers and that was fine by everyone.

Right now, I am knackered and am heading to bed!

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Friday = BRAAI – Luanda – Day 6!!

So today I worked from home as I had a meeting with Tonie and Barrie and it just made sense to stay here and not really have to bother about going to the office. Especially with the traffic as always. Shame though as Maria was on her own pretty much as Sly was off, on the FPSO, and I wasn’t there.

Sly has headed off to the FPSO to do a bit of work. Man, lucky bugger. The FPSO is an Offshore Floating Refinery. Think of an oil rig, just on a ship, and then a whole lot more. If any of you remember seeing that massive ship in Cape Town Harbour a few months ago that looked like a city at night due to being lit up like a christmas tree with loads of pirpes everywhere?? Well, that was an FPSO, and BP currently has the biggest in teh world, afaik, and it is a few hundred kms from where I sit right now. And Sly has just gone there! Man, green with envy!! I have given him my camera, so hopefully he’ll get a few decent shots for me. Hence the lack of pictures since yesterday. It does however mean I’ll be without camera this weekend. He reckons he’ll be back tomorrow, but after having heard Maria’s story about her visit, Bradley and myself have a bet going that he’ll only be back on Tuesday. 🙂

So Barrie and I went shopping at Casa dos Freshca (I think) and landed a massive bill for literally one trolley load of food. Man it was insane. A kilo of Fillet will set you back around R450!! We got a load of various meat, soft drinks and the usual party stuff. I can’t quite remember the final amount, but all I remember thinking is that I’ll never worry about over-spending on a braai back in Cape Town ever again.

Luckily for me I got my RPC over HTTP for Outlook working before I left Cape Town, and it has been a massive benefit ever since. It basically enables me to connect directly to the exchange sever in the office over the open Internet without having to use a VPN, or Outlook Web Access. And let me tell you, that’s a massive benefit.

Day 6 - Braai Time

Movement around the table – Dinner is served!

So, back to the braai . . . well, we were expecting quite a few people, a few of the big wigs from the BP DCT team, and then a couple of the ladies too, well so the lads said, as they have invited them. But actually, at the end of the day, Only Maria, with her husband, who doesn’t speak much Porra, and Nina pitched, along with Blythe on his own, as Ash left this morning.  It was an entertaining evening, with me getting a lesson from Nina in some local dance technique, but to me it was virtually the same as windsurfing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokkie in a way). So she was quite impressed that I was already fairly good. Well, I was just as suprised as I typically don’t windsurf. The fillet was awesome and the food turned out really well, thanks to Chef Barrie! There was plenty food left and the evening turned out just right. Probably a good thing the rest never turned up, as it was small and contained and really entertaining.

I let the team down and headed to bed early. Just been really tired the entire week, and think it must also have something to do with my chest (still having shit with my Asthma) and the aircons/heat difference. I have been really tired since arriving – which is probably due to the 2 hours sleep I got before leaving Cape Town, but man, it’s gonna take a while to get into the norm again. Weird as back in Cape Town I was managing fine on like 6 hours a night, if that.

Well, we have plans to get down to the Island tomorrow and then a bit of a party tomorrow night afterwards, so it should be a good weekend.

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Then the Slums – Luanda – Day 5!!

So today was just another day. Work was good, but shame poor Sly – Sylvester – landed up not going to the FPSO. He was scheduled to leave by helicopter, then they changed the location to the harbour, and due to travel permit issues, he couldn’t go. So he was rescheduled for tomorrow by chopper. So he landed up at the Harbour Base the entire day. Though, he did say he had a nice lunch!

I ducked out for Lunch with Bradley, back to the “Cafeteria” and there was absolutely no queue this time, though we were like 30 mins earlier. Maybe that was why. They have these TV’s all over the “Caf” that plays the Portuguese TCM channel. Classic stuff to watch whilst you eat, and the locals are transfixed by it. 🙂

We had to pick Sly up from the base after work, and that was very interesting as the driver took a “short cut” via the “slums”. Wow, now you see what Luanda is all about and where people actually stay. Really sad and pretty intense. Think the locations where we are – Gugs, Khyalitsha, Crossroads, IMizamo Yethu, etc – but picture mainly cinder block structures as opposed to houses. Pretty crazy man, but I suppose the “location” areas are all the same the world over.

Dinner was at Maria’s, my local colleague, her father’s restaurant – not too sure what it is called, but it was pretty cool. It is located on Ihla de Luanda, the peninsula and is almost directly opposite Miami. We were joined by a few BP UK Ex-Pats and it was quite funny. OK, one topic that is definitely taboo is taking the piss out of people by asking them what they are doing for the environment or how their job relates to it. Hmmm, I won’t be joking about that with Petroleum Employees anymore. A VERY TABOO SUBJECT indeed. And I love my piss taking!! 🙂 Anyway, the food was good, and I wasn’t as knackered as usual. Why . . . I hadn’t taken my Malaria pill yet, so that is obviously the trick – that and not drinking beers it appears! 🙂

The city of Luanda is absolutely stunning at night, and I am definitely going to get some really awesome pics with my Canon EOS 400D when I return. Dad is borrowing it right now. Good thing though as I wouldn’t have had the space for it, plus I want to use the first trip just to get my feet on the ground and not be distracted!

Tomorrow is the House Braai with a few of the BP Big Boys in our arena, so that should definitely be entertaining! 🙂

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Traffic from Hell – Luanda – Day 4!!

Traffic took about 35 minutes to get to work this morning, a distance of less than 2.1 kms as we drive! It is literally just insane. Reminds me sooo much of Egypt, but just with Black People as opposed to Arabs. Really intense.

Day 4 - Miami Shower

The Shower at Miami – A great vantage point! 🙂

Work was cool, still getting into it, so still bright eyed and bushy tailed. We’ll see yet. I ventured out to lunch, the same place as yesterday, on my own as everyone was busy, and I can tell you, it was strange being the only white person walking down the road to get food, surrounded by mainly very poor locals. Yet, I didn’t get one bad look, or the feeling of animosity towards me. I felt 100% secure at all times, and it is quite an exhilarating feeling to get to your destination and not have been mugged, or felt unsure about yourself. Makes me really wonder how much me sub-consciously fear about being in South Africa, and how insecure we really are back home!

The lunch queue was just as bad as the traffic, and it took about 30 mins for 15 people to get served at a buffet. The lunch “restaurant” – basically a canteen – is 2 floors, with mainly an open buffet type arrangement. On the one side they have a sit down area, where you basically get charged about $10 just to be served, exactly the same food! There are about 6 or 7 dishes available and it is quite a helping, but definitely not worth R 90. But I can see this is going to take time getting used to. THE COST OF EVERYTHING that is!

Introduced to my first 3 power failures in one day, actually in about 2 hours! And we complained about Eskom. Everything is on UPS in the De Beers building, except the lights, so work continues, but the lights go off, and everyone continues as normal. It is pretty much the norm it appears! Amazing.

Dinner was back at Miami, and I had the steak, which was really good. The helpings are usually pretty good, as far as I can tell, but the cost!! Whoa! There was a big screen with the EUFA Cup soccer on, suprise, suprise! 🙂

Once again I was knackered at dinner, and think it definitely has to do with the Malaria Pills and the beers. Okay, tomorrow I change tack! I’ll take the pills when I am supposed to, after meals and just before I go to sleep. Also, no more beers! 🙂

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life!