I got off the ship Tuesday morning and finally made it home late Wednesday afternoon. What a looooong trip it seemed!
From the ship, we rode the crewboat in to Pointe Noire, Congo. It was a sweet little boat and the weather was nice. The only problem was that a 2 hour ride to shore turned into a much longer tour around the offshore lease.
Instead of taking us right in to the beach, like we all expected, we drove all over the field, picking up one guy from one rig to drop off at another. We all really just wanted to get to the beach! We wound up going to pretty much every facility out there. Tungsten Explorer, Hellespont Daring, Hellespont Defiance, Lewek Crusader, FPSO Alimo. I hate to think of what crew change will be like on a day it’s not flat calm!
After the rounds of the offshore field, we finally took off for the beach and it took only about an hour. Uncomfortable as hell with having to wear life jackets INSIDE the boat (which is NOT safe, in fact it’s dangerous!), and pretty piss poor air conditioner! I was feeling pretty miserable by the time we got there. I know I was not alone. I had only been up since 2200 the night before, some had been up since 1700. We all just wanted to get to the promised hotel so we could get a nap.
After climbing up the ladder to shore and finding our way to the customs and immigration, we carried our lifejackets along with our luggage down the long passageway to the main street. There was a bus waiting for us (with AC that worked!).
We were taken through the dusty chaos to a pretty nice hotel. I went for lunch with a couple of shipmates. The food was good and we could see the gardens and a nice swimming pool. I wish I had room in my luggage for a swimsuit (but since I’m still restricted to only 15kg, there’s no way).
The agent took us to the airport at 1800. The (only) flight didn’t leave til 2105. The airport was not air conditioned either (except for the Air France lounge). What a scam they have going there! They’ll charge you $10 (or whatever they can get out of you) just to let you sit inside, knowing most people would be glad to pay just for the AC! I heard the drinks cost up to $20!! Since you are supposed to be able to use the lounge for free (including drinks) when you are a member, they are getting away with quite a rip-off there!
That’s not to mention the fact that every official in Congo wants to SEE how much money you have on you (and according to most people I’ve talked to going through there) will take some of it off your hands. I’m not sure how I got away with keeping mine. Maybe because I had so little of it and counted out every $1 bill in front of them (holding up traffic).
I was sure glad to get on that plane! Then only about 10 hours to Paris. I had about a 4 hour layover in Paris. I don’t remember much about it. I was dead tired by then and spent the time in the lounge. I paid for an upgrade to Houston (another 10+ hour flight) and so I actually got a few hours of sleep.
I’m still pretty whacked out on the sleep schedule. I haven’t done much since I got home but catch up on mail and phone calls (and sleep). I’m hoping soon I can manage to stop falling asleep by 1800!