What’s Happening

I know I haven’t been posting here as much as I’d like. Nothing’s wrong. Mostly I’ve just been lazy.

I got off the rig really late last Thursday. I knew I was going to miss my flight, so I changed it to the next day and booked a hotel in New Orleans. Goes to show me what good it does to plan anything in advance.

I thought I got a really good deal on my flight home from New Orleans by purchasing it in advance. I only paid $65 ($32 for the fare, the rest was taxes/fees). I wound up paying an extra $45 to change it to Thursday night, which would have been fine for a normal crew change. But then I had to pay an extra $40 to change it to the next day since we didn’t even leave the rig til around 2230 Thursday night! Cost me $85 to change it and only $65 to buy it- WOW have the airlines got some scam going!

on the boat getting ready to head to Fourchon and home!

I spent what was left of the night at the Maison Dupuy in the French Quarter. Since I didn’t get there til 0330 Friday morning, I didn’t really get to spend much time there, but what I saw of it, I liked.

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I spent a couple of hours wandering around the French Quarter. Got my fix of coffee and beignets and had to hurry back to the airport for my flight home.

flying in to Houston

I got home late Friday and was too tired for anything but a quick look through the months pile of mail blocking my front door. I spent most of the weekend catching up on both sleep and mail. Tuesday I went to painting class (they were on hiatus for the summer) and the dentist in the afternoon.

I’m not sure what happened there. I went in to fix an old filling (nothing was bothering me). Since that operation, a different tooth has been hurting when I chew on that side of my mouth. Hating the thought of having to make another dentist appointment!

I haven’t really been doing much of anything. Today I’m planning to break out of my torpor and go to the Summertime Bikes & Blues Festival. I’m not a ‘biker chick’ by any means, but I do think some of them look pretty cool. I like a lot of the kinds of people that like bikes, and I like the whole ‘freedom’ thing they promote.

I usually like the music (this year I’m disappointed they canceled a friend of mine’s band). I’ve never heard of any of the bands this year, so just hoping they’ll be up to the usual standard. The food is pretty good, with all kinds of different vendors, from BBQ to shrimp kebobs, popcorn and candy apples. Of course beer and lemonade. 🙂

I hope to have some more pics tomorrow. Next week might be busier. I’m waiting to hear if I can go back to work or not since I left under not quite the best circumstances. In any case, I need to finish up my (2016) taxes. 🙁

African Tulip

I had planned a long layover in Istanbul on the way to Tanzania in order to ensure that I wasn’t jet lagged for the photography safari I was joining. I enjoyed spending almost 2 weeks in Turkey, but I was still completely exhausted when I arrived in Arusha to meet the rest of the group I’d joined up with.

I’ve joined quite a few events with Great Escape Publishing (ex: AWAI). I’ve done writing and/or photography workshops in Boston (where I learned how to start my blog), Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, and Korea. They’re always great. I meet interesting people, learn a lot, and get to explore new places. I’ve been looking forward to this photography safari for a long time.

I was so glad I stopped over in Turkey first. It’s such a fascinating country. The history alone would be enough to convince me to visit. But the people really make it special. I had such a wonderful time there and hope I get to go back soon.

On the day of departure, I spent a leisurely morning at the hotel, slept til 0900, had a nice breakfast, packed, checked out late (1300) and enjoyed chatting with Genghis at the front desk for an hour or so waiting for my ride to the airport.

I spent my time after checking in at the Turkish Airlines lounge. Wow! I’ve been in quite a few airport lounges and I’ve never seen anything like it!

They had everything from a library, to a pool table, to a movie theatre (with fresh hot popcorn). They had all kinds of food and drinks, serve yourself bars scattered around the 2 floors of the lounge. They had a chef cooking up turkish pizzas (pides) and another making fresh omelettes, another grilling beef, chicken, pork, and another doing stir fry.

They had separate stations for bar snacks (various nuts, pretzels, chips, etc), salad bars, dessert bars, even an olive bar.

They had plenty of comfortable chairs to relax in, they even had suites (if your connection met certain pre-requisites). They had massage chairs and even a couple of real, roving masseuses!

I have to say, I was relaxed and ready for the rest of my trip.

Too bad the rest of it wasn’t nearly as nice.

The flight was full. Nothing new there. It’s been that way since 9-11. Planes stuffed full, overcrowded like a South American chicken bus. It was hot as hell. For some reason they refused to turn the AC on. I was sweating to death the entire 6+ hours. So were my seat mates (from Austria). Unbelievable, but some people were actually wearing jackets. Where were they from? The Amazon jungle???

We had a pretty decent flight other than the heat, the crowding and the fact that they ran out of alcohol early in the flight so had no help in trying to sleep. After 6+ hours, we arrived in Kilimanjaro airport.

I was one of the first ones off the plane since they opened both doors and I was near the back. I had my form filled out that they gave us on the plane, so I figured I lucked out when there was only 1 other person in line in front of me. When I got to the visa desk, I found out I had to go get another form (the exact same information but on a smaller page) and then come back. Wondering why if they gave us one form on the plane, they couldn’t give us both? It would have saved a major hassle on landing.

I went back, filled out the second form, got back in the visa line. Then I was allowed to pay my $100 US (must be new bill) for the visa. I cleared customs (there was no one there) and met my driver outside the luggage area.

Then I had to wait for 90 minutes for the rest of the group to come out. 🙁

Once everyone was sorted out, we left for the drive to our hotel in Arusha- another hours drive.

We arrived exhausted at our hotel- the African Tulip-around 0500. It looked like a beautiful place, but I was too tired to care. I finally made it to sleep at 0600.

Slept in til noon. Got up for lunch (should have slept through it). Took a look around the hotel (very nice). Had a smoke and went right back to sleep since I was still totally exhausted. Finally woke up fairly refreshed in time for dinner at around 0700 where I met the rest of the group.

I hate that I had to waste an entire day in a foreign country sleeping! Still glad for the stop over in Turkey, I would have been much worse of after 2+ days traveling then only the 6 hour flight from Istanbul.

It’s Good To Be Home

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!

1st stop Tungsten Explorer

1st stop Tungsten Explorer

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).

All's well that ends well :-)

All’s well that ends well 🙂

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!