Monthly Archives: March 2008

Ashton Arrives :( – Luanda – Day 20

Well, Sly woke feeling Hundreds! With the way things had been though, I told him to take the day off, and work from home if he wanted. He was cool with that.

Day 20 - Advertising gone wrong

When your campaigns might not have a big impact. 🙂

I did leave work at 15h though! Yay!

Ashton arrived that afternoon, and I just knew it was gonna end up in trouble. Or should I say a headache?? Well, he pulled through around 18h, and it went downhill from there.

We landed up heading through to Veneza, and invited Ian, one of the BP UK guys one rotation here, to join us. He’s a cool chap and we all got well liquored over dinner. Dinner for 4 with drinks was a mild $333, so approx R2600. NICE!!! That’s what 2 half glass sizes of Johnny Red, plus the numerous Ballantines we had at the casa before dinner, will do to you. 😮

Well, needless to say I don’t really remember getting home, though we did get driven, and I then proceeded to pass out on my bed, without the mozzie net and forgot to take my mozzie pill!

Man, all I can say is that I won’t be doing that again in a hurry! The Hoof Pain is a killer! 🙁



Easy Going Guy 😉

The White German Witch Doctor – Luanda – Day 19

So we took Sly to the doctor again. He hadn’t slept much and had stated that his joints were on fire. Not good. I took my laptop this time so I could at least go straight to the office afterwards. Wasn’t going to muck about in traffic again. We got to the clinic far quicker this morning than the last time.

Day 19 - Flats

A typical block of flats in Luanda.

I decided that I had better accompany Sly in again, considering what we went through last time. The first thing the doctor says is that he is fine. He points out his blood test and says he is okay. There is nothing wrong with him. He doesn’t actually ask why we are back, or what is wrong, but instead launches into this whole “He is fine” bit. When I started trying to explain to him that he was not okay and there was something definitely wrong with him, he kept saying that physically he is fine. Jesus man, this guy was really getting on my tits now. He then launched into the whole “why is he acting so nervous routine” again, and this was very strange as I was speaking for him, and why wasn’t he talking himself. I answered that it was because English was not his first language, and that he wasn’t South African.

“English isn’t my first language and I get by ok”, he replied. “And it says here he is from South Africa.”

Man. I had to explain that he was from Zimbabwe and that he was not actually South African. I explained that there most definitely was something wrong him. He denied this. Okay, now I was seriously getting pissed off, and Sly could see it. this continued back and forth for about another minute or so, and then i had had enough. I basically read him the riot act, or the equivalent of the “malpractice act” I suppose. I told him that Sylvester was sick and that I didn’t think his opinion was very good. He told me I was welcome to go to another doctor if I wanted as he had been in medicine for 11 years and who was I to say differently. Man this was just petty. he then started going on about how he knew South Africa. he had lived there before, and he knew what was happening there now.

“What?” Sly questioned him?

“Down”, he stated, “It’s going down.”

I eventually said that something is wrong with Sly, and that he needs to give us his opinion. What does he think, that sort of stuff. he continued going on about some sh*t or other and trying to take the piss out of me. I decided to hold my tongue, or I would be outta here. Due to Punching the Shmuck! He said he thought it may have been a virus or bacterial infection or womething, and he gave him strong anti-inflammatories. We Left!

I was fuming. Jesus that guy is absolutely useless. I know now why he is here: It’s the only place he can probably get work nowadays, cause he’s so incompetent. Probably got kicked out of his last job down south. 🙂

Well, I sent Sly home and went back to work.

Sly was feeling MUCH better when I got back to the house after work. Seems the stronger tabs had worked their magic! 🙂 So much better in fact that he cooked up a bit of a meal. Nice one.



Easy Going Guy 😉

Sly’s Kinda Better – Luanda – Day 18

Well, Sly was feeling much better this morning, so he pulled through to work with me. Well, that was good to see. At least he was better and not worse, so obviously NOT Malaria. That’s a good thing! 🙂

Day 18 - Buildings

One of the many construction sites around Luanda. Please note the shortcut which even we used. The One Way No Entry. And you can’t turn right??? haha

I finally met Mohamed, one of the BP Southern Africa head honcho’s. Can’t remember what his exact title is again, but he’s pretty high up. He is based outta Cape Town, and comes up once a month. I’ve heard a lot about him, so it was nice to actually touch base eventually. Really good guy actually. He’s definitely got his work cut out for him up here I can tell you that. 🙂

Sly was not feeling great at lunch time. Really tired again, so I sent him home. He called the doctor to get his results, as he hadn’t been called yet, and was told that they came back fine. Weird, as something is definitely up. But, I suppose, who are we to know.

Around the same time I got a call from Neda looking for info for Bruno’s wife on ex-pat wives, or someone with local knowledge. She was telling me that in Nigeria they have a South African Wives Club, whereby they can get together and mingle and do what chicks do I suppose. Well, I wasn’t aware of any of that here, or anyone that I might be able to contact, as most of the ex-pat guys I knew in Luanda were on their ace. Their families were back home and they were pretty much here for the cash I reckon. I did however think of Maria and passed her details along as she would be the perfect contact. she knows where people shop, she is very connected, and can probably help her out if she needs to be.

Mo was quite concerned about Sly’s condition and even gave me a call that evening. I chatted to a few people about who was the best doctor and where to go for medical assistance. I even contacted the guys at Chevron to find out who they use. Nope, the SOS clinic was the one they all went too! GREAT! Well I guess ol Sly is off back to see the German Witch Doctor tomorrow morning then again! 😮

We weren’t particularly hungry, so dinner was pretty minimalistic that evening.



Easy Going Guy 😉

Sly’s Sick! – Luanda – Day 17

So we got up and headed through to Sagrada Esperanca. It is a hospital located on the Ilha and this is where the SOS International clinic is. It took us ages to get there, close on an hour, due to traffic, which was crazy.

Day 17 - Traffic Lights - Luanda Style

Traffic Lights – Luanda Style!

There was no queue so we were in in a jiffy. The doctor there was another story. He started quizzing Sly and asking all sorts of questions, but not with very much understanding. He kept saying what’s wrong, and why are you acting so nervous. Man this was doing my friggin head in. Sylvester’s first language is not English, but rather Shona, as he is from Zim. The way he acts is cool, and very chilled, but at times he can probably become a bit tongue tied and maybe a bit intimdated and doesn’t get the point across as it should be. But, he’s still cool, and all good. The doctor kept saying why are acting like this, what’s wrong with him? I was getting the moer in now, but he’s the doctor, so I kept quiet. He got Sly up on the bed and did the Malaria test, which was negative. I never knew you could test it immediately, and now upon further investigation I see there are actually home testing kits available. That’s good to know. I might just get myself one. Well, the doc couldn’t understand it, and neither could we, so he also sent him for a blood test, and a blood count as a further precaution. He also prescribed a whole host of medication including Ibuprofen and Anti-Inflammatories. We left to go to the Lab, for the test and then to the dispensary. I was still pretty pissed off when we left, as the doctor was a serious muppet. I will definitely be staying away from him!

Well, we both headed back to the house, I had left my laptop there, and by the time we got home, it was about 10h45. Traffic was really heavy, and I made the call to work from home. I was expecting James to give me a call during the day to show them around, so it would be childish going to work, only to leave about 2 hours later. Sly went straight to bed, and I fired up the old laptop. Around 13h I got a call from James. He was finding out about the braai that eve. Hmmm, I had completely forgotten about that, but I hadn’t thought that we had actually agreed on a date yet. Thought we were going to plan it once they were here. Well, no worries that was fine by me. Sly was a bit better that afternoon, so we both shot off to Casa do Fresco to go shopping. We got a few steaks a couple of sausages, some chicken and then a few veggies.

James and the crew pulled through around 19h and I donned my apron again! 🙂 They bought a case of Heinekens and a few other things, including Ice Cream 🙂 and chocolate and all things good. We hit it with a really hot fire and waited for it to cool down a bit. I was chatting to Bruno outside and he was telling me it was gonna be a 3 year contract for him. Man, that’s a hell of a lot longer than my 1 year. Jeez, gotta make sure you make the right decision then wrt a move to Luanda. Pretty intense, but I reckon they’ll be making it well worth his while. Leopard wise! We got to chatting about Luanda, well my experiences thus far, and I don’t think ol’ Bruno’s wife, her name slips my mind, was too keen on the place. Just the feeling I was getting. It’s a serious sacrifice that I can really imagine is very intense if you are married. They were telling we they had been through to the Bellas Shopping Centre and really liked that and the Talatona area. Hmmm, I can see where this is going . . .

The braaiing didn’t go that well, as we hauled the meat off early as the flames were really hot, so I had to recook a whole lot of the meat again, well the chicken and the sausages. The steaks were perfect. Man they were good. Fresco’s definitely has the best meat. The food redone we got back into the meal and I as always finished last due to talking too much. As always. The Ice Cream was good too! At R80 a tub, it had better be. 😮

We finished up and got Oscar to give them a lift home. They had found accommodation at the Palm Hotel, well, the Palm Hotel’s owner’s son’s place that is. Right next door to the hotel. The hotel is located on Ilha, so it was a bit of a drive.

We headed to sleep too.



Easy Going Guy 😉

Angola Offline & Sly’s Sick – Luanda – Day 16

So first of all, I have now been in Angola for just on 2 weeks, and I’m still in the honeymoon phase! 🙂 The appeal is still here and I am still getting to grips with the place, so I can’t complain, and I’m not particularly missing home, or Cape Town for that matter. Not yet that is! haha

Day 14 - Robots

How to f*ck up traffic! 🙂 (They usually direct from above the portable podium)

So at around 12h we suddenly lost Internet connectivity. Well, it just stopped responding. I noticed because mail wasn’t working. As I am a “contractor” at BP I only have access to the Internet connection. Not the local network. Sly and the other guys have BP logins so they sit on the local network. So I connect directly to the DD mail server via the web, and use RPC over HTTPS, which works really well actually. I have connectivity issues every now and again, but it usually resolves itself after a while. Typically when we have mail issues everything else works fine, but this time everything was down. My mail and all Internet access too. We thought it might have been an Angola Telecom issue internally, but then when we realised that BP’s main link from Luanda to the UK had dropped too we called up Angola Telecom to find out what was wrong. Well, they were as much in the dark as we were. About an hour later we got a response that it was the SAT3 Connection that was down. The SAT3 is a fibre cable that runs under the sea on the sea bed from Cape Town in South Africa right up the West Coast of Africa and terminates in both Chipiona, Spain and Sesimbra in Portugal. A few countries on the West Coast make use of this cable. One of them being Angola. So our connection to the SAT3 was down. It was unlikely that the actual SAT3 itself was damaged, more likely our connection to the peering point in Angola was damaged. Everything was down. Most calls in and out of the country, all data comms in and out of Angola, and the weird thing was that even the internal calling within the mobile networks seemed to be affected too, which was just plain weird! But really suprising I guess. 🙂

At about 14h we finally got an update that the cable from Angola Telecoms to the Peering Point had been damaged. Someone had put a hole through it, which is apparently a very common occurrence over here I was told. With all the construction going on everywhere it was bound to happen at some stage or another.  I was informed by Maria that we should connectivity at our house, as SRC used satelllite for most of the their comms, and there wasn’t actually a hell of a lot I could do here now, with mail down, so I decided to go continue working from home. We did have comms at the house, which was great.

James McCormack arrived in Luanda that day, along with Bruno, Bruno’s wife, and Neda. They were a few of the crew from DD JHB who were up here to check out the terrain. I got a call around 15h or so from James in a bit of a panic. The place they had been recommended to was crap. So, they wanted to come have a gander at our place. Well, our place ain’t a hell of lot either. In fact at this stage, all 3 downstairs room’s aircon’s were on the blink. The one had been working and a company came in to service them, and when they left, none of them left. I had been on Hugo’s case about it for about a week already, yet nothing had happened. I had explained this on the phone, but they still wanted to come have a look.

Now, our place ain’t exactly the Ritz. It is a split level house, and we occupy the 1st floor, which is separate from the ground floor in the fact that it doesn’t actually have stairs inside the house. The access is via a flights of steps on the outside of the building, so the ground floor is pretty much a separate entity. We don’t actually use the downstairs at all. The ladies use it because the washing machine is there and they do the ironing in one of the rooms too, and the Driver and Security Guard pretty much chill out there too, as there is a TV in the one room, but that aside, it’s pretty sparse. There is a lounge suite and a dining room table, but that’s about it. The rooms and bathrooms are pretty dilapidated, as they aren’t used much It is very reminiscent of what a 60’s East Coast Holiday Home might look like now if it hadn’t been used much since being built.

So anyway, James and the clan pulled through, and they weren’t at all impressed I can tell you that. 🙂 The fact that the aircons don’t work either wasn’t even a factor. But they did a load of biltona nd droewors from JHB International, and that was definitely appreciated and well received. Well, after a few calls we managed to get hold of Jose from SRC, who hooked them up the first time, and now managed to hook them up again with another place to stay and they left to go check that out. Sly arrived home just after 18h, and told me the link had now come back up. Man, it was down for like 6-7 hours. Pretty rough. The amazing thing is that they don’t even have a redundant connection to the peering point, or if they do, it wasn’t working.

Sly wasn’t feeling too well, so he  went straight to bed when he got home. Now that boy can sleep, that’s for sure, but this was different. I checked on him later and he was telling me he wasn’t feeling at all well. He had a headache, was just really tired, and his joints were sore. Well, that to me says one thing . . . MALARIA! Especially here in the tropics where it is absolutely rife. I called up the BP Doctor, Sly has a BP card, and was referred to the local SOS doctor. I gave him a call and he sounded like a bit of a twat. Was quite brisk with me, and suggested I bring him in in the morning. So off to the doc tomorrow I guess.



Easy Going Guy 😉

Enlightenment & My First Shower – Luanda – Days 13-15

Friday had been rather uneventful for us. It was a fairly quiet day, and I did see one interesting thing. The Angolan Work Philosophy! By the time 15h01 rolled by, the building was practically empty! One minute they were there, the next, all gone! Legend! 🙂 We obviously stayed late for a bit of work, and cruised around 17h00. Bummed to be out late on Fri! 🙁 The evening was pretty uneventful. We had a quick braai at the house, well a gas braai at that, and it was okay.

Day 7 - Handover

Barrie the Braai Meister relinquishes “The Apron” (My Handover Present from the previous weekend)

Saturday I was up early. 06h30! There was a power outage cut-over at one of the branches at 07h00, so we had to make sure we had a guy on site to power down the devices. Osvaldo, one of our 2 local guys, offered to go do it. I gave him to a ring to make sure everything was cool. All good from his end. Great. Back to Sleep! 🙂 Sylvester went to work in the afternoon to do the monthly checks and help test a satellite comms issue. I was gonna walk down to Sistek a few blocks away to get a few electrical bits and bobs, a S-Video to RCA and a Mini-jack to RCA cable for connecting the laptop to the TV. I stepped out of the house around 11h, and stepped straight back in. At 38 degrees there was no friggin way I was walking! 😮 So, I landed up spending the rest of the day pretty much in the house, pooping out every now and again to get a bit of sun. Thank God for Aircon!

I got a bit adventurous that evening and suggested to Sylvester we head to what looked like a restaurant about 2 blocks away.  I had finally been getting to grips with my bearings and our routes around the city. Not that hard you may think, considering we only actually drive about 5Kms max roundtrip everyday to work and back. But there were a few weird goings on. Like we never turned left into our road. Upon further investigation I discovered it was because it was illegal! Not allowed! Against the Rules! Now this was a real irony. You can’t turn left (from a main road only it appears), but you can gladly go down a one-way, go straight through a traffic intersection in front of a traffic officer whilst he is directing traffic for the perpendicular directions – and he does nothing, and calmly create your own third lane of traffic, on a 2 lane road, directly into oncoming traffic, expecting them to move out of YOUR way, yet . . . YOU CAN’T TURN LEFT!! That’s just insane! ! !

Anyway, back to the story, so I had been getting my bearings, and had seen on numerous occasions a little place about 2 blocks down, around the corner, that looked like a nice little restaurant called Casa do Dao. So we decided to head through ON FOOT! Now, it’s around 20h at night on a Saturday night. It’s pretty dark, and I’m heading out with Sylvester to walk about half a km through a city to find a place we don’t even know that’ll be open. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I’m the ONLY WHITE PERSON AROUND!! well, this for me was nerve wracking to say the least. Why??? Well, let’s see . . . In Cape Town I would think twice about walking from my mother’s house to Cavendish Square (a distance of about 500 metres) at 19h30 on a Friday night, and that is in Claremont, a pretty good area. And here I was, about to walk through an entire city, well not really, but definitely through a really busy area of town, in a foreign country, where they speak a language I still don’t understand, as the only white guy around!! I must have been pretty crazy at the time! In South Africa we are so fearful of anyone with a darker skin tone to our own. It is actually quite frightening to realise what sub-conscious fear we live in in South Africa. Constantly checking who is around us. Do people look dodgy? What are they doing? Are they watching us? Where are our keys? Where’s my wallet? My cellphone? Man it is crazy. Constantly on our guard back home.

Well, I am really liberal, always giving people the benefit of the doubt. But this . . . this was different. It was weird. Walking down the road with at least one guy who was well liquored in front of us, and yet it was cool. Seriously Nerve-Wracking at the time, but in hindsight . . . EXHILIRATING! I didn’t get very many stares, hardly any in fact. No issues. No beggars running up asking the White Man for money. No children following and harassing us. It was as though we were walking down the street just chilling. And . . .  that is exactly what we were doing. It was cool. I actually discovered a lot. We found a hospital, police station, bike hire place, and a restaurant that was actually a little cafe all done up to look fancy like! So, yeah. Bummed! Casa do Dao was really a little caf. Haha, What a muppet! I suggested to Sly we head to another place I had seen in the block opposite the house, and so we were on the way again. Angolans seem pretty relaxed. Weekends seems to be all about chilling and partying. Relaxing and making the most of people around you and just getting on with you own life. Nothing like back home in ZA. There it is all about opportunity. You find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, you’ll get ripped off for sure. Just too much opportunity for people back home to take advantage of you crime wise I guess. Here there probably is too, but they make it less obvious, or I haven’t seen it yet I guess. Oh hey, don’t get me wrong. If I go out to get something from a vendor they’ll rip me off senseless for sure. If it costs 150 Kwanzas, they’ll take me for 500 without a doubt, that’s why Oscar or Jeje, our drivers do the basic shopping for us. The necessities that we can’t get at Shoprite or Fresco, or if we forget to get something whilst shopping. Oh, yeah, our drivers??? More on them later. 🙂 Anyway, so far I have had pretty good experiences of Angolans in general. Hopefully that doesn’t change too soon.

So, we arrived at this restaurant, and Sylvester had actually been to it before. I was actually thinking of the place downstairs, but he knew of the place upstairs so we went there. Well, it was a big Soccer & Basketball night it appeared and they had a BIG screen up. Now, this was on the roof, and the  roof is literally that. A roof top with a tables, and umbrellas, and a few make shift shade net gazebos. So pretty open and cool. Ordering drinks was trying, as it was our first real introduction to a Porra only speaking waiter. We finalyl get a Carling and Gin and Tonic (GinTonic) out of him, adn asked for the menu, which resulted in us having to point to the table next door to signify what we meant. The menu was only in Porra, which didn’t help matters. But, I did recognise one thing – Fillette e Dorado, or something to that extent. Dorado Fillet. Great. 2 of those please. Well, the shaking of the head obviously meant that they were out of them. Oh oh, back to the menu.

Note to self – Get a small dictionary to carry around!

We landed up choosing “Chopa” at his recommendation, after lots of finger pointing and gesticulating. Chopa??? Have no clue! But we were going to find out soon enough.

Then . . . it began. A few drops at first. Nothing much, just a slight drizzle in a way. At this point in time it is probably worth noting that the wind had picked up during the day, which was a definite note of impending rain as I had been told, and the sky had grown sufficiently darker and greyer throughout the day. Prior to the few drops of rain, I had seen a few flashes of lightning in the distance. Something I had not yet experienced here. Within minutes the few drops had changed to rain. Not too hard, but not light either. We moved under the shade netting, but shortly it really started to bucket down, and now everything was getting wet. Particularly me, who had been sitting under a gap in the netting. We decided to hot foot it outta there and mission home to eat leftovers from the braai the night before. The 12 metre dash across the open roof top to the covered bar, resulted in my top being totally drenched, so being all practical, I took it off. Well, that got loads of stares, but cleared the way I can tell you! ;-0 By the time we made it home, literally 200 metres or so, we were drenched, and had to change our clothes.

The house however was a disaster. Man there were leaks everywhere. Over the Kitchen, Bradley’s room, lucky he wasn’t here, Sly’s room too, and even the toilets. Man they were supposed to have fixed this issue a few weeks back. Well, Hugo will be hearing from me about this tomorrow. That’s for sure!! Luckily for us the rain only lasted about 45 mins or so, but it was pretty intense whilst it lasted.

Sunday was chilled once again, doing a bit of damage control wrt the leaks and water all over the place. but nothing was seriously damaged so everything was okay. We missioned off to Fina building to perform the power up of the equipment and found they had also experienced water leaks. However theirs was considerably worse in that it had left a horrendous smell behind! 🙁 Man, that was not going to be well received on Morning there!

Sunday night was spent at home.



Easy Going Guy 😉