Luggage Located

I heard from the captain yesterday that my luggage has been found! :-)
I have no idea where it was or where it went or when it showed up in Luanda.
But we have been informed that it IS at the agents office in Luanda.
Now I only have to wait until they can deliver it to the ship.
Will it come on a helicopter in tomorrows crew change? Or will it come in a boat in a few days or a week? Or will I just be able to pick it up at the agents when I leave here to go home?

Song of the Sea: Baltimore Whores

Here’s a rolickin’ old sea song for your Sunday morning. It’s sung by Gavin Friday and seems like a good example of the idea of the old style traditional sailors songs. Enjoy! :-)

Baltimore Whores

There were four old whores of Baltimore
Drinking the blood red wine.
And all their conversation was
“Yours is smaller than mine.’

Timy, roly, poly, tickle my hole-y,
Smell of my slimy slough.
Then drag your nuts across my guts,
I’m one of the whorey crew.

“You’re a liar”, said the first whore,
“Mine’s as big as the air.
The birds fly in, the birds fly out,
And never touch a hair.”

Timy, roly, poly, tickle my hole-y,
Smell of my slimy slough.
Then drag your nuts across my guts,
I’m one of the whorey crew.

“You’re a liar”, said the second,
“Mine’s as big as the sea.
The ship sails in, the ship sails out,
Never troubles me.”

Timy, roly, poly, tickle my hole-y,
Smell of my slimy slough.
Then drag your nuts across my guts,
I’m one of the whorey crew.

“You’re a liar”, said the third one,
“Mine’s as big as the moon.
The men jump in, the men jump out,
And never touch the womb.”

Timy, roly, poly, tickle my hole-y,
Smell of my slimy slough.
Then drag your nuts across my guts,
I’m one of the whorey crew.

Swab your decks, me hearties
Slice them up with pride
You sons of whores
Yours is smaller than mine

“You’re a liar”, said the last whore,
“Mine’s the biggest of all.
A fleet sailed in on the first of June,
And didn’t come back till fall.”

Timy, roly, poly, tickle my hole-y,
Smell of my slimy slough.
Then drag your nuts across my guts,
I’m one of the whorey crew.

Raspberry-Lemon Pie Recipe

Raspberry-Lemon Pie Recipe – Kraft Recipes.

This is one I will DEFINITELY have to try asap! I am not due to get off this rig for another 2 weeks. :-(

I wish I could teach the cooks on here how to cook some real American style food. They do OK with some local style stuff. Basic chicken and fish type things. But they sure as hell don’t know how to do dessert!

I have to say, I’ve never been on a rig with worse food. I don’t know if it’s because we’re working off Africa and they can’t get a lot of things here, or because their grocery budget is too low and they’re forced to buy things in Luanda where it costs $10 for a cup of coffee…

Usually the food on a rig is excellent. The companies figure it’s a cheap price to pay for good morale. We eat like kings out here. Not this time. :-(

This recipe (just click the link above the photo) looks very simple and delicious but they don’t have the ingredients to make anything like that here. :-(

I’ll have to wait until I get home to taste it. I wonder if its better then my usual raspberry whipped cream pie?

Long Time Lost (Luggage)

In case you’re wondering, this is not a repeat of my earlier post(s) about my lost luggage. :-(

This trip to work was also totally screwed up. It started in Houston. The original flight was so late getting to London that I missed all my connections. I had tried to make arrangements while still in Houston to make the rest of the trip go smoothly but that effort did not bear fruit.

You can read more about that disastrous trip to get here in an earlier post here.

I arrived in Luanda early in the morning of August 14. I was promised that my luggage would arrive on the next Air France flight into Luanda and the latest would be Tuesday the 19th. I have had a claim out since I arrived. I have been checking online every day for a week now and STILL no trace of my bag!

It’s been missing for a total of 2 weeks now. I really would like to see it again before I have to leave here to go home again in 2 more weeks.

I have been trying for the last couple of days to find a phone number to call so I can talk to a real person (rather than file a form on the computer that refuses to accept the information I need to input).

I finally succeeded in finding a phone number last night and tried to call but the first time there was an estimated waiting period of 20 minutes. The second time the waiting period was 30 minutes. Since I am at work on the ship, I really can not sit on the phone and WAIT for 20+ minutes.

Tonight the wait was ‘only’ estimated at 13 minutes so I took a chance and hung on the line. After listening to the same insipid elevator music repeat for 18 minutes a real live person finally came on the line. :-)

Unfortunately, since my luggage has now been missing for almost 2 weeks, she could not help me at all since it didn’t show up in her system any more. :-(

All I could get out of her was that my luggage was ‘scheduled’ to go on a Lufthansa flight on August 14th. WHY Lufthansa? It was supposed to follow me on the next Air France flight!

She couldn’t even tell me where that Lufthansa flight was going to, or where my luggage was supposed to go after it got there, or if it was eventually going to go to Luanda, or even if they had put a new baggage tag on it so I could trace it or if everyone was looking for a no longer in existence baggage tag?

So, what do I do now?

Wild Wednesday: Mola-Mola

I’ve spent a lot of time at sea in my life. I grew up around the water and on boats. My father had a boat that he used for commercial fishing for a while. I used to go out commercial fishing before I got into working in the offshore sector. I even went deep sea for a while.

In all those years, I’ve never seen a mola mola (ocean sunfish) in the ocean until recently. I had heard about them and seen them in pictures and on TV and they fascinated me.

They just look so weird.

It looks like a shark or something chomped off half their body but they still manage quite well.

I finally did see a wild one recently. I was on watch on the bridge on my last ship and one was floating around. It must have been a pretty big one for us to be able to see it at all from the bridge.

I couldn’t leave the bridge to get a good look at it. I could only see it from the bridge wing which is about 75 ft above the water and about 200 ft forward of where it was. We were able to pick it up in the camera but not very well.

I hope to see some more of them around here. So far this hitch we have not seen much wildlife, but this evening there was a school of dolphins just off the bow. That’s always a good sign. :-)

PS- it is Wednesday here.

Into the Fray: Fishing For Tuna From the Pacific Breeze

Synonyms for fray

noun fight, battle

meleefracasdisturbanceriot, ruckusscuffleaffray,

contestrumpusbroilbrouhaha, conflict

 

I took a look at a few of the entries for this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post (FRAY). Most of the ones I’ve seen so far seemed to flow from the use of the word as wear, erode, unravel, etc.

I already put up a post using the word ‘fray’ like that, but it also seemed like a good word to use to describe some of my experiences on the Pacific Breeze while tuna fishing. Sometimes, it really does feel like you’re ‘rushing into the fray’.

My photos don’t really do it justice. I only had a cheap point & shoot camera with me and most of the action took place a long way from where I was. I hope you can get the gist of the story from the few photos I’ll post here.

When the fish are showing, it can get like the Wild, Wild West out there at sea. There can be flashing schools of tuna as far as the eye can see and dozens of boats from a half a dozen countries all fighting for the chance to set their nets on the biggest schools of the best fish.

You better believe it is a SERIOUS business! It can get REALLY crazy!

It’s a real challenge. The fish are not as dumb as you might think. It’s not really that easy to catch them. They manage to escape before the net is set more times than not. Then we have to wait a couple of hours to get the net back onboard and everything readied before we can try again.

Yes, it is a real riot, the boats are definitely in a contest and sometimes engage in a scuffle. The fish are showing in a disturbance of the surface of the ocean and they broil at the surface. That is how we find them (along with the birds to lead the way).

The way it works with ‘school fish’ is that first we have to spot the school. The lookouts are up in the crows nest and report the sighting to the Fishmaster. He will decide if we are going to go any closer to check out the school.

We can spot the fish on the RADAR by their disturbance of the surface of the water. The large flocks of feeding seabirds also show up on the screen and help lead us to the fish.

Once we get closer, we can use our SONAR to look beneath the surface and get a better idea of what we’re looking at. The Fishmaster can get a lot of information on what kinds of fish are there, how many of them there are, the depth they’re at, etc. Then he will decide if it’s worth it for us to set the net.

If we do, the entire crew springs into action. A couple of guys will jump in the skiff boat. The Radio Officer will assist on the SONAR and RADAR. The engineers will be standing by in the engine room to make sure everything is OK with the power. A couple of guys will get ready to help keep the fish contained from the boat (they throw dye markers and pound on the boat to make noise-both of those the fish will avoid).

When the Fishmaster thinks the time is right, he will yell: “skiff booooooaaaaat……… LET GO!” and the skiff boat will drop off the stern of the boat with the end of the net attached. We will drive around the school of fish dropping the net as fast as we can while the guys throw out the dye markers and pound those hammers. It gets really exciting. :-)

While we are rushing as fast as we can (not actually all that fast- maybe 10 knots tops), the speed boat and the net boat (and helicopter if the boat has one) will be doing all they can to keep the fish contained inside the area where we are setting the net around them. We need to get the net run around the whole school and then haul in the bottom of the net to close it before the fish get wise to the game and swim underneath it.

It’s such a great feeling. It gets really intense. Your adrenaline starts pumping, your concentration goes up. The challenge, the anticipation, the not-knowing, the feeling that you’re doing everything you can but it might all be for nothing. It can hook you along with the fish you’re trying to catch. I do love it! :-)

Then it takes a couple of hours to haul in the net. We never really know what we’ve caught in there until we pull it up close enough to the boat to start ‘brailing’ it out. Usually, if we’re lucky it’s full of nice big amberjack tuna. And yes, they broil in the net! It’s always a thrill to count over 10 scoops (each one holds between 3-5 tons of fish). Lots of times it’s empty, the fish got away.

This is what a net full looks like when we’re brailing them out. If I remember right, this was a pretty good catch. :-)

 

Just to clarify, the skiff boat is the one in the last photo holding open the net so we can brail it out. The speed boat is the little yellow one in the 3rd and 5th photo. The net boat is the one towards the bottom of the 5th photo, we use it to help hold the net open which makes it easier to haul it in.

 

Drills Today

Wondering if we’ll have fire and boat drills today?
Is it worth trying to go to sleep? Or would it be better to try to stay awake so that you can get some good rest after it’s all over?

Weekly (at minimum) drills are a necessity on most vessels, but boy do they get old fast.

It’s already so hard to get enough sleep out here and then we have to do these drills every week (as well as safety meetings). It’s really amazing but almost every time, we’ll have at least 1 person who doesn’t know where their muster station is, how to get there, or what they’re supposed to do when they do get there.

It’s not like that on ships that have a crew full of professional mariners. They are trained and will almost always do the right thing, even go and check out their gear when they come aboard.

On vessels that have ‘crew’ other than mariners (construction, cruise, fishing, drilling, etc), most of these people are NOT mariners and don’t come from a seafaring background. Even though the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) mandates that every mariner has to take a basic safety course before going offshore, I’ve noticed that all these other people do NOT have to take that course (or others).

THEY are the people who actually NEED that course (at a bare minimum), but of course the IMO and others who make the rules really have NO idea what they are doing when they come up with this stuff.

I’m falling asleep whether I want to or not. Here’s hoping the drills go fast today.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

For this weekly photo challenge (the idea is “fray”), I chose this photo I took at the photography workshop in Washington DC I went to a couple of years ago.

We spent some time wandering around some of the famous monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. We had some free time to wander around and take pictures of different things.

One day they had set up a bunch of different items in a big room at the hotel we were staying in. The idea was to practice getting shots from all different angles. Different viewpoints, different subjects, different focus, different light, different effects…

I had just bought this camera (Canon) and was trying to figure out how to use it. I usually just use a point and shoot. I can’t usually carry around a nice, big camera with the fancy lenses. I just don’t have the space in my carry on. :-(

I got this camera to try and learn how to take pictures good enough to get my photos accepted on some of the stock photography sites. One more attempt to find SOME way to support myself without having to stay out on a boat for half the year or more.

I am still trying to do that. I am still trying to learn how to use that camera. I am still trying to figure out how to get my photos accepted onto a stock photography site. I am still trying to figure out how to make the TIME to do that.

I think that last one may be the key. :-)

United Nations Meets At Sea

   It’s like the UN out here on these rigs.

When working for American companies, there are usually only Americans on board. Every once in a while you might see a Brit or a Filipino. Probably because of the Jones Act and other rules and regulations.

The Jones Act is one of the most important of the laws regulating the American Merchant Marine. One of the provisions of this law for US vessels is that the Master and crew must be Americans. Of course, there are exemptions. Lots of them, really probably too many.

But that’s another story for another post.

The ship I’m on now is not American. The company I’m working for is based out of Athens. It was out of Norway but it has been taken over by the Greeks. I’m not sure yet how that is going to work out. It seems already to be bringing unwelcome changes.

But it is a nice change to have people from all over the world to work with instead of mostly just from the southern US. When I’m working in the Gulf of Mexico, most of the people I work with are from Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. Maybe we get a few from Florida and Georgia. A very few from the other states.

The reason for that is that the companies we work for do not want to pay for our transportation to and from the boats/rigs so most people they hire have to live close enough to drive to/from work in a reasonable* amount of time.(*What the companies think is reasonable is not necessarily what any reasonable person would think is reasonable.)

Since I’m now working for a company which is not based in the USA and we’re not working in the Gulf of Mexico, there is no restriction on who they can hire or where they can come from. I really like that. I love meeting people from all over the world. :-)

On my last rig, the DPOs were from Ireland, Croatia and the Netherlands. Here, they are from Poland and Canada. The last rig had lots of Brits. There were people from Ireland, Scotland, England. There were people from South Africa and from all over Europe (Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Belgium, Lithuania, Italy, France, Spain).

Here, we have lots of people from Poland. We have people from Portugal, Brazil, Croatia, France, etc. We have lots of Canadians. We even have a couple of other Americans. I’ve met a guy from Azerbaijan and another from India. Some from the Philippines.

Of course, we have people on both rigs from Angola and all over Africa (Ghana, S. Africa, Liberia, Guinea, Libya). We are required to have a certain amount of our crew hired locally. We are supposed to train them up to take over eventually. I’m not sure of the time frame for that but it will probably take a while.

So I hope that will allow me to keep my job and they won’t take over from me for a while. Let me keep doing my job here a few more years til I’m ready to retire. ;-)

So much of what goes on out here now is extremely complicated and complex. It takes a long time to learn the things we need to know to do our jobs. I know I am always having to go to classes. This place will probably be sending me to classes every time I get off the ship for the next year or so.

I’m not really looking forward to that. I used to really look forward to going to work. I used to really enjoy my work and loved looking forward to joining a new ship and seeing all the new places we would go. But they’ve taken all the fun out of the job. It’s not at all like it used to be out here. To me, at this point, the best part of the job is the time off!

Yep, let me keep working overseas until I’m ready to retire, that idea is getting better looking every day.

 

In Spite of Ourselves

I was fiddling around with my i-pod the other day and listening to some music from home. I thought maybe I’d share some of my favorites.

I haven’t really been able to keep up with my ‘editorial calendar’ I came up with on assignment from the Zero to Hero Blogging Challenge. I was going to do a feature called ‘Wild Wednesday’ (or creature feature) and another on the weekends called Song of the Sea, but the time just flies too fast.

So much of my time is spent offshore where I’m lucky to be able to get online at all and the connection speed is pretty slow. When I’ve been home lately I’ve been so caught up in just trying to get caught up, I haven’t had much time to work on my blog at all so it’s been kind of hit and miss as to what I post and when. :-(

I’m still trying to post at least a couple of times a week and keep it interesting. I do like the photography challenges and I like to post good stuff I find to share, things like good recipes, interesting articles, beautiful pictures, cool ideas, and good music.

I thought some of you might like this song. I love John Prine, he’s a great songwriter. I always love a good story-teller. Iris Dement is the perfect match for him in this song. Listen to the lyrics, I think you’ll enjoy it. :-)

These people are animals…REALLY???

Capt Jill:

An EXCELLENT post from the Culture Monk! Hopefully he is starting a conversation that we all really ought to be having. I completely agree with his comments about the news media (mainstream news media) and I am SO glad we now have the internet to help us learn the truth about what’s going on in the world and to bypass the lies the psychopaths in power wish us to believe.
I have been promoting the libertarian outlook for a long time. I think they deserve at LEAST the opportunity to have their views known in the public forum. The mainstream news media does all it can to discredit their views and label any politician who espouses them as a ‘nutjob’!
Who’s nuts” Someone who believes in freedom and liberty. or someone who prefers to use FORCE on every issue?

Originally posted on The Culture Monk:

DSC08982

By Kenneth Justice

~ Yesterday the coffee house was buzzing with conversation connected to the American Journalist put to death by the hands of ISIS.

—) “Kenneth, what do you think of what happened with the journalist?” nearly fifty people asked me yesterday

—-) “Kenneth, those people are animals! Decapitating someone’s head is only something done by animals!” said a mid-fortyish man to me

—-) “Kenneth, if I was a journalist there’s not enough money in the world to get me to go to the Middle East!” said an early thirtyish young woman

My heart goes out to both the journalist who died and his family and loved ones. I’m sure this is nothing anyone plans for and because it is a rather rare occurrence I doubt that there is any way to truly prepare for emotionally and psychologically.

I’m currently enrolled in Graduate…

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Silhouette: Singapore Sunset

Here’s another one to illustrate the Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post. This week the subject is “silhouette”.

I took the photo a while ago when I was working on the DB-50 (derrick barge 50) in Singapore. We spent a lot of time at this anchorage while we were working on our list of items to get checked out on sea trials.

We did leave (and come back) a few times. Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world. It’s a great place for any sailor. Both on the water AND on land. ;-)

This is one of my favorite photos. I even chose it to be the headliner on my blog.

Silhouette: Boys on a Bali Beach

Here’s another one to illustrate the Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post. This week the subject is “silhouette”.

I took the photo a while ago when I was on vacation in Bali Indonesia. I LOVE it over there and go there every chance I get (which is not nearly often enough).

It’s such a nice, friendly, peaceful place. There is so much to do on such a small island.

I’ve been to see many of the craft villages (batik, stonework, painting, woodcarving, silver-working), enjoyed watching some of the traditional dances, explored a few temples, went horseback riding, river rafting, rice-paddy walking, bike riding, snorkeling and SCUBA diving. I still have plenty of things I’d love to do there.

One of my favorite things to do in Bali is just to head to the beach at sunset along with a lot of the locals (and other tourists like me).

This photo always reminds me of good times. :-)

Silhouette: While Sailing

 

Here\s another one to illustrate the Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post. This week the subject is “silhouette”.

I took the photo a while ago when I was out sailing Galveston Bay with the Sail-La-Vie meetup group. We were coming in to Kemah after a great day out in the bay and everyone was relaxed and just chillin’ out.

I really liked how this photo turned out. :-)

Silhouette at Sea: Sunset Sail

I thought this photo would be a good choice to illustrate the Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post. This week the subject is “silhouette”.

I took the photo a while ago. I belong to a meetup group in the Houston area called Sail- La- Vie. They go out sailing pretty much every weekend.

It’s a great way for me to still get to go out sailing for the day without having to spend the money to buy another boat of my own. :-)

I do love sailing. There’s just nothing like it. It’s so nice to be out on the water with the wind in the sails and the sound of the water rushing by. :-)

I don’t like the worrying I do when I have a boat sitting at the dock and I’m stuck working offshore hundreds or thousands of miles away. The entire hurricane season I worry about every storm that enters the Gulf of Mexico. :-(

With Sail-La-Vie, I can go out sailing every weekend if I want. It costs me less than $100 for the day, including the drinks and snacks we all bring to share. I have a great day out on the bay with a bunch of fun and interesting people and the best part is, I don’t have to worry about the boat.

Silhouette at Sea: Ship and Seagull

I thought this photo would be another good one for the Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post. This week the subject is “silhouette”.

I took the photo a couple of months ago when I was in Korea. I had gone there to attend a workshop on travel writing and photography.

I flew into Incheon and decided to stay there for a day or 2. Just to rest up before figuring out what I wanted to do. I had a couple of weeks to spend on my own before meeting the rest of the group in Seoul.

I took this picture my first day there. I wound up down by the waterfront (of course) at a place called Wolmi Island. It\s one of those “pleasure islands” the Asians seem so fond of.

I wandered around for a while taking pictures. I had some local junk food (tried the little boiled  ‘silkworm cocoons’- which I did NOT like at all! they tasted like salty dirt!).

I was surprised at how nice and quiet and peaceful it was there. I really enjoyed my afternoon there. :-)

Silhouette at Sea: Pacific Breeze

I thought this photo would be a good choice to illustrate the Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post. This week the subject is “silhouette”.

I took the photo a while ago when I was working on board the Pacific Breeze. It’s a tuna boat, a purse seiner. We were fishing around the Solomon Islands at the time.

I was on board as captain (regardless of how many locals refused to believe that there ARE women captains).

I watched the guys set and haul in the nets and sometimes could get some great shots!

Law & Getting Back Our Sovereignty, Andrew Bartzis & Rebecca Cope, Part5

Capt Jill:

this information really needs to be spread more widely, most people have NO clue as to what is being done behind our backs.

Originally posted on 2012 The Awakening:

This show details the sheer fraud and the collusion between the courts and the banks, from people who have done their homework to expose the fraud, and to expose how the people themselves are the CREDIT for the loans that they are being double-charged. This is an obligation of the United States Government that has been stolen by the Agencies. They charge us to cover up their embezzlement. This is an astonishing charge, until you follow the money trail and understand that that is exactly what is happening in the courtrooms across America – and across the world.

Dr Christina Winsey, from Sarasota, FL, has been fighting a Foreclosure for her family home since 2010. Her lawyer quit in October, 2013, and she had to take over her own case. What she has learned since that has made her become an expert in the Foreclosure Fraud Machine. She has learned…

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The Freedom Myth

Capt Jill:

the more we can spread this information (which is the truth about what’s going on), the better off we’ll be.

Originally posted on 2012 The Awakening:

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Landing in Luanda

I had a hell of a trip this time. We left Houston about an hour late after sitting (all ready to go) on the runway for 30-40 minutes. I was thinking maybe I would still be able to make my connection in London. Until they announced that they were turning our plane around. :-(

We got off the (full) plane and shuffled across the terminal to the new gate where they had another plane waiting for us. It was supposed to be ready for us to go right aboard. Something changed tho. Those of us with connections in London had to stand in line at the desk while the gate agents tried to find us new connections.

When I finally made it to the desk to talk to an agent, they told me that since my company had bought the tickets for my trip separately, they couldn’t do anything to help me. I would have to talk to the connecting airline once I got to London.

Has anyone else ever heard of this? You buy a ticket to go from one place to another. You make sure all connecting flights are on partner airlines, you get one ticket with one confirmation number so everything seems OK. Lesson learned, it’s NOT.

I didn’t buy these tickets personally. My company sets up my travel arrangements to and from work. I’ve never had any problems like this before. Usually, when a problem with the original flight causes you to miss your connection, that carrier is responsible to get you on the next available flight. Apparently, it doesn’t always work this way. :-(

I tried to call my company to let them know what was going on. I had an emergency number and the number for the rig I was going to and a couple of others. I called all of them and no one answered. I was able to leave a message on at least one of them.

I wasn’t really sure if anyone had received my message or if they were doing anything to arrange for my passage on from London, so when I got to London I turned my phone on hoping for a call from my company and proceeded to try to get the airlines to get me to my final destination somehow.

I went to TAP first, since United told me in Houston that they could/would not do anything for me (because of the separate ticket issue). TAP told me that they could/would not do anything for me since it was United that screwed up and ruined my connections so they were responsible for me. They did have flights available that they could get me on, but it would cost me 860 GBP to replace my tickets! They suggested I go back to United and try again.

I did that. I was lucky to get a very good agent this time (thanks again Usama). He did his best to help me and really came through. He was able to route me through Johannesburg to arrive in Luanda by noon the next day. Even got my luggage straightened out to make sure my bag would be on the flight with South African Airlines.
 
Lucky me, I thought I was all set and would have a couple of hours to rest and relax in the airport lounge. I figured I would try to call my company again and if there was no answer I would send emails.
 
I checked my phone and there were a couple of voice mails, but for some reason when I tried to listen to them they disappeared. I have a very new phone and I’m not really used to it yet so maybe I did something wrong. :-(
 
I tried to check for records of calls in and calls out but it looks like this phone doesn’t save that information like my last phone did. Since I didn’t have the phone number for the person I was going to try to reach on my phone, I tried to get online with my computer to check my email.
 
I FINALLY found an unused electrical outlet in the lounge where I could use my computer without running out of juice (it’s old and sucks down the battery pretty quickly). As soon as I opened up my email, I found a couple of messages from my company.
 
First thing that popped out at me was that they had already arranged another flight for me. I guess they DID get my messages from Houston after all. Next message from them was to call them asap. So, I called.
 
The result of the conversation was that I needed to cancel the flight through Johannesburg that I had FINALLY managed to get United to arrange for me and take an Air France flight through Paris! I don’t know how much money that ticket cost but I know it wasn’t cheap!
 
The reason for spending all that money for another ticket rather than allow me to take the free flight through Johannesburg that was already arranged (and paid for)? That I would arrive in Luanda at 1200 noon and the Air France flight would have me arriving at 0500 am!
 
OK, I get it. They would like me to arrive at work as early as possible. The issue for me is that I had already been awake since I got up to get ready to leave home. So, since 0600 Tuesday morning August 12th. It was already around noon on August 13th, so I had already been up for 36 hours (adding 6 hours for GMT).
 
The original flight they had booked me would have allowed me to get at least a few hours of sleep at the hotel. The Air France flight would have me awake for a total of 54 hours by the time I arrived in Luanda and then I would have to spend another few hours in the airport and helicopter trying to keep my eyes open while getting from the airport in Luanda to the rig on the helicopter.
 
I don’t know about you, but I am not one of those people who can sleep anywhere. I really envy those people sometimes. I can only sleep if I can lie down comfortably (or, if I am just SO damn tired it’s impossible to stay awake anymore).
 
So, I was NOT looking forward to canceling the South African flight. I did do it tho. I went back to the South African Air desk to try and have them find my luggage before they put it on their plane (and would have to delay their flight taking my luggage off when they found out I was not actually on the plane- ‘security issue’ so they say).
 
Of course, they could not actually FIND my luggage and told me I would have to go back to the United desk to save my luggage. At that point, I didn’t have the time to even try to get to the United desk, much less try to get my luggage issue resolved. I would have to hurry to get from terminal 1 over to terminal 4 where the Air France flight was departing from.
 
Other than the usual time wasted going through ‘security’ once again (I had been no place other than inside secure areas of airports since 1200 on the 12th), things went pretty smoothly. If they didn’t, I would have missed that flight too.
 
I did make it. Stuck in the middle seat (probably due to last minute purchase of tickets) all the way to Paris. At least it was only a short (1.5 hours) flight.
 
I arrived in Paris and tried to use my United lounge pass and no such luck! United is a ‘Star Alliance’ member and Air France is not, so I couldn’t even find a comfortable place to chill out for the layover in Paris.
 
The next flight from Paris to Luanda was also stuffed full but I was lucky to at least have an aisle seat for the 8 hour flight. Thank goodness for small favors.
 
I was SO tired by this point, I think I actually fell asleep for a few minutes at a time during this flight. I know because every time I did, my seatmate had to wake me up to go to the bathroom, or else the flight attendants would knock me in the elbow passing by with the drink cart.
 
We arrived in Angola before dawn. There was a mad scramble to get in line for immigration. There must have been over 300 people in line and only about 5 immigration agents to process us all. I was lucky again and pulled aside by one of the officials to start another line, so I got to show my papers fairly quickly.
 
Since I didn’t have a visa and had to get one on arrival, the immigration agent just looked at my yellow fever certificate and sent my passport and official paperwork off with another agent while I was to wait off to the side.
 
It didn’t really take them very long to come back with it. Only about 30 minutes. After they gave me my passport back with the visa stuck in there, I was free to pick up my luggage and go.
 
I was one of the last people from my flight to arrive at the baggage claim and the carousel had already stopped turning. Just as I suspected, my luggage did NOT make it to Luanda.
 
Once again, my luggage was lost in transit. At least it was not a surprise this time. I also knew it had arrived safely in London, both United and Air France confirmed that before I left London.
 
I went to the lost and found office and proceeded to fill out the paperwork for my bag. Thank goodness, I TRIED to pack lightly this time. Last time I found out they have very low weight limits on baggage for the helicopters out to the rig.
 
I really didn’t have much to worry about in there except for my prescription safety glasses and comfortable steel toed boots (if those things could EVER really be considered at all comfortable). I just had a few other things like work shirts, underwear, socks, flip-flops, tooth-paste, etc.
 
Thank goodness I was able to send a box of stuff over to this ship from my last one! At least I have a few pair of underwear and a couple of days worth of toothpaste. I HOPE they will deliver my bag on the next Air France flight to arrive in Luanda. They should, they know to be on the look out for it. I just hope it gets here on the next chopper after that (which might not be til Tuesday).
 
Yes, I did go straight out from the international airport to the domestic airport to catch the helicopter to the rig. I was put on the 1800-0600 (night) watch so was able to get about 3 hours of sleep before going on watch. Yeah, right, 3 hours after all that.
 
Here’s to the wonderful world of travel to Africa! ;-)