Thursday, September 13, 2007

Africa: Day 5 (Ras Lanuf) July 26, 2007

(Reposted after the changes were made to the blog)

I'm sure some of you are wondering where I've been. I've been too busy, sick, tired to write since I arrived and communications are worse than I had hoped they would be. I'll try to start at the beginning to let you all know what's been going on since we got here. Before I get into that though, I'd like to say I love you to all those I usually get to say it to in person; April, Mom, and Hannah.

Hannah: I don't know where I'm going to be on your birthday in a few days, but my thoughts are with you. Someone please please hug my daughter for me and tell her that her Dad loves her. I'm not sure if she'll get to see this or not, so someone please make sure to call her for me and tell her I miss her and love her.

April: I miss you so much darling. I know you and I have the least amount of problems compared to the others on my team when it comes to communications. We're used to being apart and not speaking for a couple of days at a time. But I want you to know I love you, I miss you, and I'm thinking of you constantly while I'm here. It's ok here, but it's never wonderful when I'm this far away from you.

Mom: I'm sure you're worried. You always do. Don't worry too much. We're all ok. I'm keeping the guys hydrated and we're getting along all right here, if sans a few modern comforts; like hot water.. ugh. I'm lucky apparently in that regard. My room has working hot water, though others seem not to. Privelege of being in command? HA! I'm not sure. To me it just means that there's a line waiting to get in my shower in the mornings.

Ok. I'll see if I can start a semi-decent narrative of our adventures since arriving in Africa on the 21st.

Things were great on arrival. It felt like coming home to see the sights of Tripoli and to feel the sand beneath my feet as I walked through the town. You don't realize how much of life you miss while riding in a car all the time. Walking the streets and smelling the sea, the scent of the arid desert sand, the mildly sweet scent drifting from the date palms, and all th me other sights and smells that make this place like a second home to me.

Upon arrival, my plans were changed without my knowledge; instead of having four days or so to get the guys acquainted and supplied, we had only one day to rush around like mad before leaving for the desert. As such, the tourism aspect was cut drastically short. I did get to take the new guys to the Venezia though, meet with Mani, walk them through Medina-Al-Khedima, and show them some of the sights, such as the Arch of Marcus Aurelius and the ancient hotel, Gurgi Mosque, and a few others.

Mani was great, as has always been my experience with him. He took good care of us and, in typical libyan fashion, went out of his way to help us out with all kinds of things. Thanks again Mani for meeting with us and for introducing us to your friends, Malek and Mahmoud. I almost forgot, thank Nasr for me too, for taking his time to drive us around and for helping me get the phone for Wess. Please extend my thanks to all of them and let them know that we will not forget their kindnesses. Should they ever need a favor that we can provide, we are in their debt.

To continue, after getting settled in the hotel and making a few trips around Tripoli, we were put in a mad dash to get our desert passes issued. Rather than letting me do my job and plan my travel and arrangements, others took that responsibility over and royally screwed it up. At this time, six days after entering the country, we still have no return tickets home, no visa extensions, no proper identification papers for desert travel, and no tools. If you were here, you could see my "surprised" face....

As always happens on these long overseas flights, my bad tooth acted up again and the infection started soon after I landed in Africa. Within 24 hours of hitting the sand I was screaming in pain and screaming more because the screaming caused more pain, a fairly vicious and unpoductive cycle now that I look back on it. I slept ok the first night, but had to spend the entire second night packing the stuff that was rescued from our Libyan apartment. Between that and the running around and the pain from the toothache, I never went to bed at all. I had to fly to Ras Lanuf and chair a kickoff meeting with no sleep in 48 hours, no pain meds (because they lost the bag containing almost $1,000.00 worth of medications and our hygeine supplies). Surprisingly, I managed to survive that long enough to get to a clinic and get some local meds to knock the edge off the pain. Now, four days later, the left side of my  face looks like I'm chewing on a tennis ball, but the meds keep it bearable for the time being.

Some of you know that we had an apartment in Tripoli when we were here last. Well, the landlord is a piece of &^%$... sorry, but I needed to say that. That sorry sonofabitch took 40 thousand dollars of our company' money, but won't let me in the apartment to rescue the rest of my stuff from there. So now, I'm down half my clothes, ALL my medical and hygeine supplies, and all my electronics gear. Not to mention the people that are CURRENTLY LIVING IN MY PAID FOR APARTMENT are making use of all my kitchen supplies and my coffee pot. Do you have any idea how completely insane you have to be to come between me and my coffee pot?

I had to end this early to get back to work, so I'll just start a new post. Read on.


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