Sorry folks. I made it home two days ago, but I've been a bit under the weather since getting home. I wrote this along the way:
I've made it to Amsterdam and found a comfortable seat in the Internet lounge, but not logged in-too damned expensive here.
Crew-x was a bit different this time right from the beginning. We used the jet-powered rescue craft to transfer people from my ship to a waiting supply boat. It's rigged with container accomadations on the back deck and they have some small comforts for us to while away the hours with; movies, wii and a small billiards table made out of plywood-even the balls are plywood disks and the sticks are old mop handles. What a glamorous life I lead. Sleeping in a steel box and playing plywood pool:)
The 24-hr trip into Luanda, Angola was largely uneventful. I slept a fair bit, though fitfully with 8 other guys tromping in and out, slamming doors, climbing to the top bunks, snoring and breaking wind as us sailors do. Mostly I read a couple books and paced the back deck, or sat around telling stories in the mess while drinking too much instant coffee.
Arriving in port, in Luanda, they only kept us in the cage for a couple of hours. It was still long with no tire swing, wheel to run on, nor a water bottle hanging down from the side.
Leaving the cage, we drove through and around Luanda. I wish I could convey the wreck and ruin I see every time I am there. It is astounding and horrifying at the same time. This time, we drove South along the harbor, then around to the East behind the embassy hill. I saw much of this same scenery on the way in nearly six weeks ago, but it was still fascinating. Instead of heading straight East up the bluffs toward the airport, we skirted the South end of town to a private guest house, supposedly just a few minutes drive from the airport.
This place was walled off with armed guards and boasted it's own generator, to avoid the frequent and long brownouts that plague the rest of the city. It was very clean, spartan and quiet. One of the crew this time was living in Luanda and had a car. He took a few people down the road to grab a couple hundred bucks worth of beer, olives and something that looked like chips, called "Salty Cracks". Lots of drunken jokes followed this revelation. Anyway, about 10 of us sat in the courtyard next to the meat freezer, where the manager/camp counselor let us store the beer and managed to get pretty damn drunk over about 4 hours. Had a grand time except for the Chief Gunner stealing my shoes, shirt and glasses left on the table when I split to shower. Just before leaving we were given great tubs of soft rolls, salami and bananas for a quick meal.
While lazily boarding the bus for the airport, I got a call from the shore agent, screaming in a panic that the traffic was bad and we were going to miss our flight out. Figured him for a git, but rousted the others (running up and down the hallways yelling for the other guys to get a fucking move on, much to the dismay of the manager and other guests). In less than 10 minutes on the road, we realized he was right. The seven-minute ride took us 2 agonizing hours, of stop and go, potholes, fender-benders and stalled cars. It was a nightmare. Especially drunk. imagine being drunk on bus where the driver SLAMS on the breaks every 10-30 seconds, for two hours. I felt like a pool ball and thought for sure I was going to piss myself the last half-hour.
We made the airport and I was the last one on the A-300 bound for Frankfurt. We barely made it and Immigration was a PAIN IN THE ASS this time. The only bright spots were running into some guys from one of my old ops, back in the GoM and then managing to slip around the line for the guy with rubber gloves who wants to see if you're keistering any Angolan currency. I DO NOT LIKE THIS GUY. Big fingers and a bad attitude...
Flight to Frankfurt sucked. Food sucked. No sleep, bad fucking hangover.
We also landed late and I missed my connection to Amsterdam. Lufthansa re-booked me on a later flight and I re-booked my KLM flights back to the states once I got here to Amsterdam.
So, I bolted into town to take in a little of the local flavor and then caught the express train back here to the airport. I've got just enough time to close this out, catch a smoke and get to the other terminal and my gate. Unfortunately, I won't get in till midnight tonight and I've already been up more than 24. Good times.
Well, I'm just about to land in Minnie. As usual, Northwest's food and service both leave something to be desired. US carriers are cheap-ass mother fuckers when compared to the rest of the world-at least in food and service.
I've got 5 hours in Minnie and not a clue as to what I'm going to do. Maybe the Mall of America?
Minnie was boring, I stayed in the airport, had a meal, read a book and walked a lot. My flight was delayed an hour d/t mechanical problems and finally, long after midnight, Mr. Bud kindly picked me up and drove me home to PW and LP.
I've been sick on and off for two days, I think, due to the malaria medicine I have to take, but I refuse to let it take me out. Looking forward to the weekend!