Friday, January 16, 2009

Back to Africa

Back at sea.  It took three days to get here.  Made it to London Heathrow by the second day.  Had a 10-hour layover and needed to fly out of London Gatwick.  Took a cab from Heathrow to Gatwick.  On the way, an accident on the motorway caused us to get off and take country roads the whole way.  The cabbie woke me up so I could see the sights.  I wasn't happy, but the drive was gorgeous, very picturesque.  Rolling green hills, hedgerows, sheep, tiny cottages.

At Gatwick, after meeting some of the crew and a bunch of guys from my old operation and downing a few beers, I grabbed a room in the Yotel located in the airport.  A Yotel is very similar to the Japanese commuter hotels, just a bed built into the wall of a coffin-sized cabin.  They call them cabins, not rooms, in fact.  There is only enough room to stand in one place, or turn around, between the bed and the shitter/shower behind a sliding glass partition.  However, the bed is extremely comfortable and has a built-in wide-screen tv. A small table folds down to hold a bag, our set up a laptop.  The entire Yotel and the cabins are lit by soft, purple neon.  This has the same effect as sleeping pills.  Better, in fact.

I left Gatwick via a charter flight.  Despite the fact that 6 ships's crews were flying together, many of us managed to get an entire row to ourselves.  I even slept for an hour or two on the flight with the help of booze, muscle relaxers and codine. Luanda, was Luanda.  Customs and Immigration went better than normal, but they took my passport.  I have yet to see it.  We had to stand around in the chaos outside the airport for an hour or two, but eventually headed out in buses to the heliport.  From there, we flew quickly to Soyu, up North. 

Coming in to Soyu on the chopper, I saw my first view of the African bush.  I mean, it looked like Africa.  I expected to see herds of elephants and lions and shit.  Large flocks of birds coming up out of the mangrove swamps along the Congo, turned out to be the only visible wildlife, but it was still a great view.  So, we landed in Soyu and I stood on the banks of the Congo.

After refueling the chopper, we took a short hop to the ship, where I got a whirlwind, 2 hour handover that only covered about half of what I needed, and then I was on my own.  I walked around in confusion for a few hours, then decided to call it a day.

I unpacked, took a long sauna and fell asleep reading my book.  This morning, I feel as if I've been run over by a bus and I have no idea what's supposed to be going on out here.  I fear it's going to be a long trip.

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