Friday, June 16, 2006
Just Saying Hello! (trip update included)
Greetings world. I know I have been less than diligent in my postings lately. Since my return from Africa, there has been a plethora of minor details to cover, a fairly intense menu of major issues to cover, and that all barely leaves time to fix the other uh-oh’s that crop up during the previous two phases. So, in typical fashion, I guess I’ll begin chronologically. WHAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW What you all didn’t know, and I only found out halfway through my trip to Africa, was that my father was diagnosed with stage 9 prostate cancer. Now, being a man myself, the mere mention of the word “prostate” sends a chill up my spine. No one talks about “prostate” except in the strictest medical sense of the term.. ever.. it NEVER comes up in congenial conversation. Luckily for me, his surgery was scheduled for May 31st and my return trip to the USA was scheduled for May 12th. Once entering the states however, Lee called and asked me to be in his wedding.. not just to attend the wedding, but to be IN the wedding. Primarily, I was honored to be asked. Secondly, I’m the one who set them up together…so I guess of all the weddings I really SHOULD go to, this was the one. So the month of May drew to a close with me spending more and more time stressed out every day. My team is going back to Africa, which I have to prep them for. My client is being hard-headed. I have a wedding in three days to attend, my father is going into surgery, my stepmother wants to go see him but can’t make that long drive, my brother wants to go see him but can’t AFFORD that long drive in his Bigfoot Jr. tonka toy, and my other step-mother (yeah I have two.. I’ll get to that later) wants me to come help finish a project that my father’s business was doing before he had to quit working, due to his surgery. Such as it was, I went to the wedding on June 3rd, which was great. They’re a perfect couple ( I have to say that by law.. it’s a civic violation if I don’t) and then I preceded to fly home (figuratively, not literally), pull a Clark Kent quick change, and then take a 9 hour drive to Georgia to see my father. AT GREEN ACRES I swear this place needs a friggin bonanza sign out front. I pull up in the yard amongst the three super-duty pickup trucks, get greeted in the yard by twenty or so roosters, 15 to 20 hens, 2 pigs, 3 goats, 2 cows, 1 bull, three dogs, 4 doves, and I’m sure I’m still missing some. Then comes the family. Dad’s just had surgery, but it’s too early to tell if things REALLY went great or if he just hasn’t keeled over yet. (I’m happy to say now, that he really was fine, pulled through surgery wonderfully, and now has his test results back stating that he’s completely cancer free!) My girlfriend, April, hasn’t ever met my father, AKA Grizzly Adams, and I’m just waiting to see how all this turns out. So, there we are. My dad, my brother, myself, wife #4, wife #5, and all the kids too. Let me just let that settle in on you for a minute or two. All things done, it was a great weekend. I got to spend some great time with my Dad, which I haven’t done in a long time. April got to meet my folks. And I also got some more time with Janet, my other step-mother (wife #4), which I don’t get that much. I’ll post the pictures later to show you what we did that week. It was quite the trip. NOW WE RETURN HOME: Upon arriving back home, I find out that my Visa still isn’t back from Canada yet, and I’m supposed to LEAD the team to complete this project. Now, I’m one of only three who can’t go... hmmm… now what? Well, as time drew closer, we discovered that the Canadian border patrol/immigration discovered our passports being sent regular mail (who’s BRILLIANT idea was that by the way?) and then sent our passports to Customs, NOT to the consulate where they were bound for originally. This is about the 10th of June at this point. Chris, Brad, and Mike were already over in Africa, and April has to be in the country by the 15th of June or her visa expires. You see, when you get a working visa to a foreign country, even though it’s good for six months, it has to be used the first time to get into the country within 30 days of its issuance date or it’s void. So, after much much worry, I put my girlfriend on a plane for Africa, by herself, hoping to God she got there with minimal hassle. She did. She called me on Tuesday ( I think it was Tuesday) and told me she’d arrived safe and sound. So… now we wait… and wait… and wait. I’ve been waiting for three weeks to hear any news about my passport. Today, finally, my receptionist Bobbie called me to tell me that customs has sent the passports on to the consulate. So, now I’m hoping that I’ll be getting the news that they’ve been stamped by Monday and that maybe I’ll be flying by next Friday. IN OTHER NEWS: (the team) Now, you have to understand something about Africa; NOTHING gets done that’s supposed to get done unless I do it myself.. period. That’s the end of it… there’s no other way to get around it. Unless I have a bad attitude and have my foot shoved up somebody’s toga, nothing gets accomplished over there. So, my team arrives to live in their nice new villa… WHAM.. that idea gets smacked down. Apparently, the crews can’t seem to understand a time line and they haven’t furnished it or whatever, and we have no keys to it. So, at this point in time the crews are stuck in the Bab Al Bahr, which has GOT TO BE the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in ever. The service is horrible. The food is horrible. The English speaking people are non-existent. No internet, and EVERYTHING in this place is expensive. So now, our accommodations are not right, our per-diem has been changed.. which REALLY REALLY REALLY offends me a LOT! I’m not even going there today. I’d get fired if I mentioned what I really thought about that idea. Half way through a project and my overseas pay, and that of my men that I work with, got changed from what its supposed to be…. OOOOOHH I hate that. I find myself getting more angry just sitting here thinking about that! Nothing has offended me that much from a professional standpoint in YEARS, if ever. (AFTER A BRIEF RESPITE) (I took a break to cool off) Well, for those of you who want to know why you can’t reach the team, I had an update from Chris Comeau, via his wife Pat, they some of them have moved into the apartment now. Apparently, Mike, Tyrhon, and April are staying at the apartment and the rest of the team (Chris and Brad) are at the hotel, STILL awaiting the villa to be opened up. Those at the apartment will have, or so I was told, a telephone installed in about a week. (Knowing how things usually go over there, that could be six months!) Ok.. I’m quite obviously bereft of my good mood at this point. I think it better that I just stop while I’m ahead before I start saying things I’ll really regret. (That per-diem issue really raised my ire.) Until next time.. when I’m cheery.