Sunday, August 20, 2006

Africa: Day 41

Hello again world. It's another day in paradise for the Scooby team. It's currently 1:54 in the afternoon on Friday, which is one of our two days off here from work. It's been a really great week this week. Frustrations and stress levels ran high all week but in the end our progress outpaced my expectations for the week's success, so I'm quite happy today.

I've been watching the weather there back in the states and it seems you guys have been having quite the heat wave lately. It came to my attention yesterday when we were discussing the weather here. Apparently the heat here lately is not indicative of the norm for this area. Yesterday was supposed to be the end of our heat wave, or so I was told, but today dawned in no less than solar brilliance, once again breaking100 degrees before 9 AM in the morning. The high for this week that I've personally seen was around 125 degrees at noon, but I'm not sure what the actual record high was for the week. Speaking with Mom last week I learned that the world's hottest "recorded" temperature was 136 degrees, recorded 30 years ago, and guess where? Yup, right here in Tripoli Libya.

Hopefully, this wave of unending heat will dwindle by the middle of this coming week so we can pick up our work production. Our guys are having a little bit of a tough time with it, but the locals are much worse. Trying to get them to go take us to a work site when it's over 100 degrees outside is nigh impossible.

Well, since I have a few minutes to kill here, finally, I thought I'd take some time and catch you up on what's going on with us here in Tripoli. I've spent less and less time taking pictures lately, primarily because less and less seems to jump out at me. Familiarity with the surroundings, understanding of local customs, and learning the city have bred a sense of contentment in me, so fewer things strike my attention any more. I'm on day 41 of this trip, which means I've been here six weeks so far. If you couple that with the 12 weeks I was here earlier, then I've spent 4 and a half months in this country this year. At this point, we are only seven and a half months into the year. Spending over half the year here has pretty much made me learn to "live" here pretty comfortably.

This isn't to say there aren't issues to contend with. Diet has been a major problem here. On the PRO side of the list, the foods here, especially the fruits and vegetables, are not full of chemicals, pesticides, hormone treatments and all those other things that foods in the US are riddled with. On the CON side, they also aren't vitamin enriched, refrigerated, properly cleaned, regulated, or anything else. Eggs here that are great one morning will make you spend four hours being sick the next morning. We've all learned to live with a permanent sense of stomach cramps and digestive problems, due to sheer lack of time and money in which to properly deal with the issues.

I'm not complaining overtly, because I know I signed on for this tour, but no one planned for us to be here this long amount of time when our plans were first laid down for the project. Those in control of the finances and project outlines assume these tasks can all be accomplished in two to three months and I'm constantly telling them that it's going to take closer to one year, if not more, just to implement the physical side of the  project. 

The main problem this causes is a monetary issue. We're all making an adequate per-diem rate, though it's much less than the last time we were here. However, we're all also living like residents here. This means we wash all our own clothes, cook all our own meals, shop for our food, replace our appliances when they break down, etc. These things take time, not to mention money. Our team works about a ten hour day every day. After they are done, Gregg and I work about 3 to 4 hours more most nights. After pulling a 14 hour day, the mere idea of spending two hours to cook dinner for five people, spend one hour cleaning it all back up and washing the dishes, spending 30 minutes packing our gear and laptops back up for the next day at work, and then MAYBE trying to spend one hour trying to unwind, puts me pulling about 19 waking hours per day.

In contrast, the idea of staying in a hotel where my clothes are washed for us, food is prepared for us, cleanup is handled by others, paints a much more pleasant picture. My upper-management however, seems not to agree with that philosophy. However, he doesn't usually stay here with us, cook his own meals, and wash his own clothes. I'll just stop there on that train of thought. I'm sure you get the idea.

Ok. I think I'm gonna bring this post to a close. I just spent twenty minutes writing three more paragraphs and then I realized all I was doing was complaining about my money problems, so I deleted them. However, the subject is a sore one with me at this point, and it has adversely affected my mood. (Like that? That's my politically correct way of saying that I'm Pissed Off about our per-diem.) So, considering my less-than-shining mood at the moment, I think it best for me just to come back and write when I'm in a less combative frame of mind.

Peace be with you all until next time we meet.

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