Monthly Archives: February 2008

A Brave New World – Luanda – Day 3!!

So, today I started my new job in earnest. Man, weird to be back in it. Thrown straight into an operational issue that morning, that was interesting considering I was now responsible for managing the issues, as opposed to being responsible for solving them. So quite tough in a way to have to hold back, but I am getting used to it. 🙂

Loads to do here so I am going to be kept very busy for a long time to come, which is great. Means I won’ have to get bored, or restless . . . I hope! So far the first impression is that we are on top of things, which is good.

Day 3 - Neighbours

Our neighbours, literally right on top of us.

We went for lunch down the road, and the around the corner, and it was my first true experience of being on the ground in Luanda, as we walked. Man, I have already talked about the heat, but unless you have ever been to an equatorial or mid tropical country, you really can’t understand it. I believe Bangkok is apparently very similar, if not in fact worse. But the heat and humidity here is intense. I think the problem is compounded by the fact that everywhere you you are in air conditioned rooms, offices, vehicles, restaurants, etc. So when you do venture out you go from a fairly cooled environment, typically in the region of about 20 degrees, or sometimes less, straight into about 32-34 degrees. Man, it is seriously intense. And the humidity just sits. So it is not like being in Cape Town in 32 Degrees, but rather think of sitting in a steam room at 32 degrees. Okay it is not that bad that you break out in a sweat every time you go outside, but it can be uncomfortable if you are in heavy clothing or wearing trousers. It’s also not as bad as when I did my Sailing trip, which I will actually blog after my first trip home, as I left my “diary” at home on this trip. Part of the 32Kilo constraints!

Personally I enjoy the temperature, and the climate. I enjoy being outdoors and it’s great to be able to get out and enjoy the sun and warmth. The only problem though is that you don’t actually see the sun, or feel the rays of it . . . EVER! Everyday is overcast, or cloudy, but not like dark cloudy, but just hazy cloudy. There is glare from the sun everywhere, but no actual rays.

Costs are MENTAL!! I was warned that it was expensive, but man, this is ridiculous! A main meal, just the course itself, well the lunch venue we go to, will cost you about R90! Plus R15 for the soft drink! So you are looking at around R105 for the entire meal. And that’s just a plate of rice and beef stew, or a large pizza slice with salad, pretty much any “Pratos do dia”, the Dish of the day. I will definitely be blogging more on the costs as they occur, and trying to get my head around it as things go on.

Dinner that day was at Portugalia down near Ilha de Luanda, or commonly known as Ilha. Basically Island, which is actually the Peninsula. It is right next to the BP Staff housing, and it is pretty sparsely arranged with a few outside tables and then big screen/blank wall for watching the football, which I was going to find out is quite a big thing in Luanda. I was really tired by the time we finished, and I think that might be due to a combination of the Malaria Pill and the Beers I keep on drinking. And that was all before dinner! Dinner was ok, not fantastic, and once again, really expensive for what you get. Like R 150 for the main course alone, and the portions would be the equivalent of a R60/70 meal in Cape Town, if that.

Anyway, I was virtually passed out by the time we got home, and am going to sleep like a log now!

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Bom Dia Luanda – Day 2!!

So, last night actually got really wild, and even though I was in bed by 21h, I was wrecked! Barrie finished a whole bottle of Brandy, pretty much on his own, and Ashton got hammered! haha I woke up a few times during the night, due to being seriously hot, before I realised that I had an aircon unit in my room, which I then turned on to find out that this one is the shit! It works like you will not believe!! Great stuff. The next time, cause I had takkie mouth and had to get some water as I was tickets after the night before!

View from the house of a very entertaining Crossroads! 🙂

Day 2 - Morning

Today was tough . . . not really. I had a nice relaxed intro everything. 🙂

It started with the future handyman coming around to the house to see what needed to be done. From there it was off to BP premises at the De Beers Building which was interesting. I met all the players in one go, and was finally introduced to what I’ll really be doing. I must admit . . . quite intimidating actually. To see the relationships and understanding people already have with each other. To be coming in as the outsider, and having to take over. Well, the challenge is huge. The landscape is massive and the potential for growth is awesome, but so is the room for mistakes. But, I’ll take it as it comes, do my best, and then some. A very exciting time for both DD and myself.

After De Beers we cruised to a hardware store, got a few necessary items for the house, like a shower head and more, and then off to the “peninsula”, not too sure what it is called in Porra, but it was cool. We had lunch at a place Miami, just next to Cafe Del Mar, and judging by the pic, it was close enough! 🙂

A view from Miami:

Day 2 - Miami

After lunch we went shopping at Casa de Fresca, I think , and that was surreal. Think Woolworths in Luanda. Really! It is virtually the same. Just these prices are way off the scale. Some things are childishly expensive. A small box of Jungle Oats . . . . R70. Yes! R70 for a small box of Jungle Oats. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, about R80. And that’s the normal size! Not the big one you get back home. Just stupid really. Yet a bottle of Johnny Black will put you back R250, which is virtually the same as in CPT, just about R30 more. So some things, quite close, others way off the mark!!

Then is it was home, and chilled for the rest of the day.

Then off to Restaurant Venezia. Man, the Steak on Rock, which is like a hotrock steak was awesome. About 600-800g of quality, seriously quality steak!! Man I was stuffed, and took home plenty still.

Well, another day done.

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Welcome to Luanda!! – Day 1

So, right about now, I am currently in Luanda, having just been sitting around the table with a real class bunch of guys, getting slightly pissed, as one always does on his “Introduction” to a new environment!

My first Angolan sunset from the House:

Day 1 - Sunset

But, let’s go back to where is starts . . .

Saturday afternoon: I spent pretty much the entire morning moving out of my flat. As always in my personal life, I leave things to the last minute. What should have started about 2 weeks ago, was left to the last day, Literally!

The afternoon I went shopping very quickly for a pair of chino’s, 2 shirts and a few other things, like boxers, which I haven’t worn in about 4 years now, but judging by what everyone tells me about the humidity, it might be worthwhile to get, and a few socks.

The evening/night was spent tidying up mom’s house, my shit in mom’s house that is. I had dropped quite a lot of my stuff off there over the period of the week or so, I’m not THAT disorganised!! 🙂 Anyway, that along with packing etc, meant I only got ot bed after 02h, and I had to get up at 05h to get ready for my flight. Man, that was rough. I literally got about 2h30 sleep by the time I left, and was I feeling rough! I had also had the beginnings of a cold the entire week, with tight chest and runny nose. Great, just what I needed for my new foray into the Wild West!

So, I arrived at the airport with a really, really heavy suitcase, 33.8 kgs heavy to be precise, and was swiftly told to offload some stuff. “I can’t allow that bag on. They won’t check it in, as it is too heavy.” Hmmm, about 5 of that is care of DD and the spare part, a Switch “blade” I had to take up. Cheers chaps! So I had to unpack right there in the hall. I’ve always seen this happen to other people at the airport, and always thought “Why would you need to do that?” Well now you know. I had forgotten I had packed my Unisa books too, so pulled that one out, which was about 2.5 kgs and my Mr Diver fleece top, put it back on the scale and was amazed to see that it only made a kilo difference. 32.8. Hey that can’t be right I thought. I moved it around and it dropped to about 30.5. That’s better. The lady luckily let me go with the overweight after a very “nice” pleading chat.

I picked up a 2 x 1 ltr bundle of Johnny Red at Duty Free for R255, which isn’t too bad! Hmmm, at least I drink my worries away whilst there! 🙂 The flight, Air Namibia, was about 3/4 full and I was in the isle, and the seat next to me was empty, so that pretty cool, except for the fact that the recline button on my seat, 19d was broken so that the seat wouldn’t go back. Now that was kak. So instead of moving to the seat next to me, I stayed where I was, and tried to get a few zzz’s, but it didn’t really work. Breakfast was an omelette which was okay. We had a medical emergency on the flight too. Appears a baby had choked or something and we landed with an ambulance there, but there wasn’t any screaming or crying, so I imagine everything was okay.

At Windhoek we chilled out in the Smokers area in the Transit Lounge, as Barrie is a big smoker, which wasn’t great for my chest, but I managed it.  We got back on the same plane, and I was in the same seat, 19d. Shite, as I was really tired now, and could really do with some shut eye! The seating arrangement turned out to be a complete cluster f#ck!! Everyone was sitting all over the place, mainly Angolan Portuguese locals,  and I later found out that if you fly TAAG –  Angolan Airlines, it is open seating. Well, this was a mess. Everyone had just sat where ever they wanted. The one chick and her kid would not sit separated, and kept the plane an extra 10 minutes because they wouldn’t sit. 2 air stewards, and 3 air hostesses later, eventually another lady moved, very unwillingly, to accommodate the chick and her daughter, but I think she could see that if she didn’t we would not get off the ground. Unbelievable! If that was UK or anywhere else, security would have been called, and she would have been forcefully removed! Man, really childish chick, I couldn’t believe it. Not a care in the world huh. Couldn’t really give a shit if the entire flight was delayed, as long as she could sit next to her daughter? She had booked willy nilly and the entire flight was full. There were about 10 of them travelling together and it was absolute chaos. The girl next to me kept on getting up and down and I decided I wasn’t going to have any of this as I was in the aisle and so I moved her bag on one of her forays out, and went to sleep in her chair which was great as this one reclined!! Quality! 🙂 I got a few zzz’s and had lunch in between. Pasta, as the chicken which was offered was finished. The lunch wasn’t bad actually.

After descending through some serious turbulence we circled Luanda and landed to applause of the passengers, which was interesting. I tended to agree on their sentiments, especially after the brief turbulence, so I too clapped. I later out that was a customary thing to do. I had checked out quite a bit of Luanda on Google Earth previously so had a fairly good idea of certain landmarks, namely the huge bay 🙂 and it was a really interesting sight. So many boats in the bay it was crazy. Just loads and loads of small grimy squatter type houses. Very few, if any, tar roads. A typical African type scene from a movie. The airport was really busy, with plenty of planes around. We passed an SAA Boeing about to depart, along with a TAAG Airbus waiting and also an Air26 charter twin prop also awaiting departure. The pilot announced that is was 29 degrees outside, and when I stepped out, I was hit by the heat! Man, worse than a hot, clammy cloth! I can see this getting seriously uncomfortable in the future, but man, I’ll just love the sun!

We cleared Passport Control in about 15 minutes, which is absolutely unheard of. It can apparently take around 3 hours, with about 200 people stuck in a room half the size of a tennis court. Just insane. A local I met on the plane reckons he has waited for 3 hours just to clear this section. The next section, luggage collection is usually just as bad, but this we cleared in about another 10 minutes, after meeting our protocol officer, whose job is to get you through Customs if you have any issues, and then we were done. So literally through the entire airport in 30 mins, which even the local commented I would never, ever experience again!! Hmmm, I guess I’ll have my patience cut out for me next time. Must be the Sunday flight.

Our driver met us outside, and went to get the car. The trip from the airport took another 25 mins or so, which even Barrie commented was not fair. He said I was really getting all the treatment on my first trip, as he has taken 2h30 to do that exact journey in the past.

So, I had finally arrived at my new home for the next however long I decide to stay. A one year contract as it stands, but hey, who knows . . . I’m looking long-term on this one.  Luanda was quite interesting experience, and reminded me quite a lot of Israel and Egypt put together, just relocated to Africa! They pretty much drive the same in Luanda as they do in Egypt, and the buildings and vehicles are pretty similar to Israel. The roads are complete chaos, with virtually no infrastructure like sidewalks, robots, etc. Vehicles just go. They don’t wait for each other, and it is really literally a matter of make your own way. Just crazy. But it appears that Sundays are typically quieter than other days.

Bradley was home when we arrived, and Sylvester was at work. Blythe and Ashton pulled through later, and we eventually got down to braaiing. At that stage I had already had a beer, and you know I don’t do beer. Like Really, Really don’t do beer. Next I was onto the Johnny Red, the bottles I had bought, and we all got really liquored up. The steaks were seriously good and they food was well prepared. Barrie finished a whole bottle of his brandy (1 of the 4), and it has been a pretty wild evening.

Well, that was day and night one in Luanda.

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

What the F#ck??? – Really

So on my way home 2 days ago I came across this on the road next to me and I just had to get a picture!! I mean REALLY!!

LinuxBeetle

1) Who the fuck in the first place BUYS a new-shape beetle?

2) A PUKE GREEN one at that?

3) BUYS a personalised number plate with “LINUX“?

4) And then puts a bike rack on there as to signify:

“Look at me, I’m really actually cool because I do get out and I’m NOT a geek! Really!!”

Seriously folks, if you wanna throw your name away, this is a really good start at doing it!! 🙂

Not much going on today!! – Day 5

So, I was pretty much given the day off today due to my Medical, which once again never happened. Helen is only back next week I am now told, and apparently I don’t actually need to forms for the Medical. So I cruised into work anyway, to get my laptop synched and setup on the domain, which was actually a bad mistake.

I arrived around 12h I think, can’t really remember, but think it was around then. Well, at about 14h it was still downloading and installing updates, from the SUS server it appears, and that then took forever. Well, I left around 14h30 I think, and headed off back home, well, to mom’s office to get myself up and running there and sort out a whole host of things there too. Rescheduled the Medical for Tuesday at 11h30, so that should be okay then.

Otherwise quiet weekend ahead I think, so we’ll see how it goes. Drinks with Lee-Anne Someone tonight, after having been stood up already from last night, I don’t hold much faith in them happening, and am trying to remembered why the hell I even asked her to drinks again. Hmmm, think it was one of those impulsive things to do at the time. Well, let’s see!

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Visa Application and LUNCH!! – Day 4

So, today was gonna be the day of the BP Lunch, with the DD and BP guys at the Portuguese Embassy (AKA Dias Tavern)! 🙂 But first, I had to get my Visa Application in. So, I arrived at town, just on 08h and met the Old Man at Baby G’s in Thibault Square. He arrived a bit late, and we had a good enough breakfast. I arrived in the queue – there was already one other guy there – at 08h50, and as I looked around, I noticed the guy had is flight details in his hand. Bugger! I had left my flight details in my car downstairs after having printed them out the night before. I quickly gapped it down to the parking lot, and returned less than 3 minutes later to discover a 6 deep queue at the door. Man, talk about bummed! I did however manage to get through the door as number 4, which was great, as the other 2 people stepped behind me. Hey, their loss, not mine! 🙂

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This REALLY is the working life!! – Day 3

So, I arrived at work at 09h to begin yet another day. I was still waiting for my Flight Details and Visa stuff, and DD has been rather mum on this sort of info, trying to get down the processes I suppose. But, I was hoping to get it done today, as I had the time to do it. On arrival I decided to walk up to the 5th floor, as couldn’t be bothered to wait for another lift as there was already a queue of about 5 waiting for the next available. BAD mistake!! Man, I thought I was outta shape, this reconfirmed it entirely!! I was literally panting by the time I got to the 5th floor. Time to hit the gym in a big way before I leave I think.

I arrived on the 5th floor to discover Both Karlene and Esther having a chat at the lift, about to leave. I really needed to get the details from Karlene, who said she would have them for me this morning, but I immediately held back as I had to try and avoid Esther at this point in time, well, while she was with Karlene that was. You see, I had already told a little “white lie”, at Alan’s recommendation, to Esther regarding the fact that I was actually permanent and not temporary, in order to get a “proper” parking disc. He had said, “Whatever you do, don’t say you’re offsite. Tell here you are here, in the building, otherwise it’s a f#ck up!”

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I could REALLY get used to working like this!! – Day 2

Well, today was great once again. I arrived at the office at 09h and met Barrie Eksteen for a chat. Tonie is still in JHB, so we had a brief discussion about things and he kinda filled me in on what life in Angola was about! Well, from what it hears I will have my work cut-out for me, can’t wait, but it also sounds really exciting, just the sort of serious challenge I am looking for!! 🙂

After about an hour or so, I went walk about to see if I could speed up the process of getting a laptop and a login and all those good things. This was actually due to Karlene telling me she would send me mail on the system regarding my flights and that doesn’t help when you don’t have access.

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I could get used to working like this!! ;-) – Day 1

So, just started my first day at DD. Arrived at 09h00, at Tonie’s instructions, and left at 09h30! 😉

We had a quick discussion around what needed to happen, and what I had to do. Also we needed to schedule a meeting time with Barrie, my current Angolan colleague, as he was on his way back to CPT.

So, meeting organised for Tuesday, as I have my medical on Monday, and have loads to do for it. I have to get Lung X-Rays, an ECG!, a full medical, and a ton of other tests for the FPSO requirements for Angola!

So, back to work on Tuesday. Tough life. 🙂

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Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉