Saturday, September 25, 2010

Malongo Base; Cabinda, Angola .......Work, Work and More Work!!

Photo: The ubiquitous fruit bats. Hundreds everywhere!!

Don't misunderstand me. I like my job. However, when I work 12 hours a day each and every day (half day for Sunday), life gets a tad tiring! I am amazed at the people here. They have a tremendous work ethic. No slackers here! Some get to work at 4:30 am and knock off for the day at 8 pm!! And then do it all over again the following day .... for a total of 28 days per 'hitch'. Such is the life of a "rotator" - someone who works a rotational assignment wherein they toil for 28 days and then have off for 28 days (at their home, wherever in the world their home may be!). I, however, am just a visitor who is here for 'only' 15 days. I used to work in Kwanda Base way back in 1998. (FYI: Kwanda Base is in Soyo, in Northeastern Angola, just across the River Zaire - about 50 miles south of Malongo Base.) Now I seemed to have lost my physical stamina and the ability to stick it out for a full 28 days. Two weeks is enough for this aging person!! On my trip last year (see the post I placed in this blog from April - May, 2009), I was not as stressed out because I and my colleague then did not have to work such a robust schedule.

Ah well, enough complaining .... herewith some pictures from my trip to Malongo Base.

The residences here in Malongo are basic - nothing plush. Small beds, TVs, some rooms have refrigerators (not my room, however) and all rooms are usually well air conditioned.

Monkeys abound. Along with other critters.

Lest you think Malongo is inhabited only by American expats, guess again! Most who work here are Angolan, of course. However, there is a healthy representation of people from many other countries.

On September 15th, my colleague and I had a trip offshore to one of our company's oil platforms. Our commute was in one of these small helicopters (The "HM" logo stands for 'Helio Malongo').

Aboard the chopper, aproaching the oil production platform for a day's worth of work.

The new Cabinda Airport. We departed here on September 21 after the long, tiresome and quite convoluted trip home that began at 12:30 pm local time and ended at 7:40 am Houston time the following day (Sept. 22) - about 24 hours of travel!!! PS: You will note the striking similarity between the Angolan flag and the flag of the former USSR (with the hammer and sickle). This was a result of the time when Angola was a nominally socialist country. Nowadays, however, Angola is pro-West with a largely pro-market oriented economy. The country is blessed with natural resources: diamonds in the NE part of the country and oil production from offshore oil fields.

The start of our looooong trip home.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cabinda, ANGOLA (West Africa)

Greetings from West Africa! I departed Houston on Labor Day (some Holiday for me!!) aboard Atlas Air (flight 5Y100). It was wheels up at 11:08 am CDT and we landed in Luanda, Angola at about 6:55 am Angola time (12:55 am Houston time) - a mere 14 hours of flying time! Groan!! Then a one hour flight to Cabinda at 10:45 am followed by a one-hour bus ride into Malongo camp and then at 1:30 pm local time I staggered into my room and collapsed into bed for a short rest and then a shower.

It's been an extremely busy work week for The Traveling Chemist. We work 12 hour days here - every day - with only a half day off on Sundays (like today, Sept. 12th). I shall post more later on during my visit to Malongo camp but wanted to share a few pictures of this particular trip with my loyal followers right now. Enjoy!!

A brand new soccer stadium here in Cabinda built in time for the recent soccer games in Africa.

A local swimming hole we passed by on the way from Cabinda airport to Malongo.

My flight to Luanda. Atlas Air is a cargo / freight airline company and this is their first venture into carrying passengers. I'm happy to report that the flight departed on time and the food served aboard was perfectly fine.

My flight route from Houston, Texas to
Luanda, ANGOLA >>>>>>>>>>