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.


Hindsfeet said...

Lordy! Bonus points in Heaven for you, TC! ; ) haha, teasing, but really, quite the grueling schedule there!

Hope you're recovering nicely, sans fruit bats in your backyard!

haha : )

SkinnyKnockdown said...

Just got back from a trip to our office in Luanda (maybe we work for the same company? Don't know...) was surprised to see the picture of the offshore rig in the photo with the gas flare - had thought that gas flaring in Angola was now against the new regulations. Anyway, I'm a geologist, and it was my first trip (didn't go to Malongo camp). I was very sad that i didn't get the chance to do anything while I was there, other than shuttle from the staff house to the office and back to the staff house. Hardly even set foot on Angolan soil, and certainly didn't see any fruit bats or monkeys in Luanda! But the plane and airport was very much as you described it - those Atlas 747's are very comfortable, indeed!

chemist said...


Glad your first visit to Angola went well!! For many folks it can be somewhat disconcerting! But I know whereof you speak. I too have been shuttled between the airport and our office that I never really get to "see" Angola. Even being in Malongo does not allow one to truly experience Angola and its people. Hang in there --- maybe some day you too will visit the land of the fruit bats!

As for our "company", does your employer's name start with a big "C"??

Traveling Chemist

Mile High said...

Great post, I might be departing for Angola but had only one question for expats that have experienced life there. How do you communicate with family and friends while on location. Is there cellular service? Or an available land line?

chemist said...

Mile High:

In the past, mobile phone service was spotty but last time (Sept. 2010) my cell phpone worked fine and my colleague had her nosr burried in her Blackberry constantly checking her Email so I assuem AT&T connectivity is satisfactory. Plus - if you are in Malongo, you can dial from any office phone and call home - assuming your boss does not mind!

Traveling Chemist

jakethecake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jakethecake said...

Would you add this bat photo as a citizen-science observations to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist ( AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.