Tag Archives: travel

Easter Weekend, Gabon Style

Sorry, this is a long over due post, but better late than never ūüôā

IMGP2069-140Over Easter Weekend we were invited by our new friends to go camping with them at the Ngodo river mouth on the IMGP2074-142southern edge of the Loango national park. We happily accepted, they even¬†provided us with everything we would need for camping! Teun and I had just started our training to be boat captains the weekend before, and because we were taking Daniel’s boat up to the camp site and I got to get¬†a bit more practice.

IMGP2072-141

IMGP2078-143 IMGP2083-144 IMGP2087-145IMGP2089-146Daniel brought the boat into the shallows so we couldoffload all of our stuff, and lets just say nobody packed light…¬†IMGP2090-147 IMGP2096-148

IMGP2099-149 But after several trips up and down the beach carrying all of the “necessities” we were able to set up camp

 

IMGP2114-150

And the boys went in search of firewood…

 

 

IMGP2125-151

 

Then it was time to relax, which meant fishing…

 

 

 

IMGP2128-152

 

It was absolutely beautiful at the beach; warm, but with enough of a breeze not to make it miserable for sleeping

 

IMGP2133-153

There was quite a feast for dinner! This weekend was the start of the celebrations for Daniel’s 40th birthday, so there were beautiful speeches and champagne to celebrate! It was a very memorable evening.

IMGP2137-154 IMGP2140-155

 

After “a little hiccup” (the boat ended up getting flooded with water when the tide went out¬†and it tipped over and then the tide came back in…) we loaded up the boat and set out on the slow ride (only 1 of the 2 engines was working now) back home.

IMGP2150-156 IMGP2151-157

The somber mood turned more jovial again when we spotted a small group of hippos! After weeks of wishing and hoping to see them, I was over the moon to finally get the chance.

IMGP2162-158 IMGP2172-160 IMGP2164-159 IMGP2174-161 IMGP2186-162

Arrival in Libreville, Gabon

‚ÄúToto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.‚ÄĚ ¬†‚Äē L. Frank Baum

 

After a 7¬†hour flight from Paris to the capital of Gabon, Libreville, we disembarked the plane and got in line. Before leaving The Netherlands we had been sent a fairly detailed information about what was about to happen. We would enter the airport and head towards the line for people without a visa (we had to get it at the airport), there would be someone behind a glass window (at some place the line went by) who would hand us the original copy of Teun’s work permit and money to pay for it, and we would present this to the person who gave out the visas. Oh and everything is in French (and my 3 lessons so far aren’t really that helpful with real life situations…). Sounds simple. Getting in the line was easy enough. We showed proof of our yellow fever vaccine and followed the line until it stopped around 30 feet in front of the visa office. A few feet in front of us was an office, behind the desk in the office was a glass window with a bunch of people holding signs and shouting at the glass. Bingo, this where we need to get our paperwork and money from. So did another lady standing just in front of us. There was no one in the office and the door was slightly ajar. So the woman started to walk into the office. Then there was shouting (well more shouting than the normal level that was already ongoing). An armed guard standing next to the visa counter was yelling at the lady and looking very serious. I can only assume it was something along the lines of “get out of the office!” A minute later an airport worker walked by and locked the office door as the lady tried to explain about needing to collect something from behind the glass, which was ignored. Interesting, but the line wasn’t moving anyways so we waited. A lady holding paperwork and a piece of paper with Teun’s name on it spotted us looking anxiously at the glass and indicated she had our stuff. 10 minutes later someone else came and unlocked the door. The lady in front of us told her story to this person and after some discussion was allowed to come in and collect her documents from someone behind the glass. As this happened the the lady with our documents banged on the glass and got the attention of the airport worker indicating she had documents for us. Teun was ushered in to collect everything. Success! We then pushed our way closer to the visa booth, lines aren’t really a thing here. After standing around in front of the booth for a while an seemingly overwhelmed official called Teun over (he probably wasn’t next in “line”, but oh well), stamps were issued, photos were taken and we were sent on our way. Woo hoo, we’re allowed in Gabon!

We entered the baggage area and waited to collect our 6 checked bags (which miraculously all showed up). We met up with another family who lives in Yenzi and already knew the ropes. We arranged for some airport employed porters to take some of our bags (because sometimes this makes it easier to get through the luggage check with less questions) and as a large group (because sometime kids also make it easier and they have two of them, score!) we exited. We had to show our luggage tags, but no bags were opened (which is good ’cause we had a lot of food and things that probably could be “taxed”).

We’re released into the city of Libreville

Libreville is interesting. It’s part large modern city, part crumbling apart ghetto, but it’s supposed to be quite safe and have many very nice (and expensive) restaurants.

After getting settled in our¬†hotel we decided to go have dinner at the hotel restaurant that overlooked the pool and the ocean. Not too shabby. I ordered one of the Gabonese dishes, chicken with a palm nut sauce, but was repeatedly asked/warned that it was “local meat” (which from what I can tell means its one of the chickens that normally runs around the streets), but I was all in. It was really delicious.

 

IMG_8230

IMG_8246

 

The next day we had an appointment to apply for our “carte de¬†sejour” (residence permit). We were picked up 30 minutes late and first taken to a local market where we would get our pictures taken, which was literally a wooden booth and¬†a guy with a digital camera and small canon photo printer. Photos done we walked a couple minutes down the street to the government building. We were taken by a guy from HR and our driver. We stood with a group of about 50 other people in¬†a¬†larger covered area, after about 20 minutes we were called and walked into a large non-air conditioned government building with rows of wooden benches surrounded by desks and booths. We sat for a while while the workers slowly trickled into their desks and chatted with each other. Then our HR guy took all of documents and passports and started talking to the workers. He would¬†go back and forth between us and the workers at their desks, I guess until he got the signatures/stamps that were required and we moved to the benches on the other side of the room and waited. We waiting for at least an hour or so in the warm, stuffy room. At some point we were told to move to another section of benches and a large group of people were ushered into the spots we were sitting. After more waiting, my name was called. I went into the booth and had my picture and fingerprints taken,¬†then a signature and it was done. I sat back down on the bench while Teun and another woman with us went through the same process. Then we were done. We would have to return a week later to collect our cards.

We had the afternoon free to do what we wished. We asked at reception if there was a nice beach nearby we could go to (as the beach at the hotel was covered in large rocks and garbage. They recommended Tropicana, so we hopped in a taxi and away we went. We had¬†no idea where we were going or how far away this beach was. We drove through the center of town, past the airport, and after 25 minutes and down a little alley we arrived. It was really nice. It’s a hotel/bar/restaurant/”beach club”. White sand and palm trees, pretty idyllic. It would have been even nicer if I hadn’t realized after a few minutes of being there that I didn’t have my iphone. I was 100% sure I had it at the hotel. Ugh. I’ve never lost a phone before in my life. Of course it has to happen¬†the day after I move to a country where I can’t replace it. So after we somberly drank our drinks and discussed what happened to my phone (conclusion after checking back at the hotel and all around and calling/texting it a million times, it must have fallen out of my pocket in the taxi, never to be seen (by me) again). I decided we shouldn’t let this ruin our time so we set off to walk down the beach as far as we could get. We walked for 40 or so minutes and ended up a dead end where there was an outlet from some channel/canal into the ocean. Hmmm, what to do? We could walk back. A local who was trying to catch something(?) in the outlet saw us pondering and called out to us. He indicated that we could walk through the shallow part of the water next to a wall and could climb up some rocks to get back up to the street. I was eager to try, but the look on Teun’s face was not too eager. The man indicated to take off our shoes and then led the way. Before Teun had time to protest I had slipped off my shoes and was the following the guy. He took my hand to help me balance as we crossed the underwater rocks. He showed us the way up to the street and with a wave and “merci” he was gone.¬†It was a nice welcome to Gabon.

10408123_10206324377847073_4019174937283386977_n

 

IMG_8255

 

We took a taxi back to the hotel and had dinner by the pool again. We left early the next morning to catch our flight down to our new home in Gamba.

Away We Go – Goodbye Netherlands, Hello Gabon

After the months of preparing, thinking, shopping, planning…

What a crazy week it was….

The week started with our house looking like a combination of a hoarders home and the aftermath of an explosion. We spent the last couple of months trying to figure out everything we may “need” for the next four years (because we were told it is very difficult/impossible to get¬†most things (i.e. everything, but bare necessities)¬†where we will be moving. It’s a strange thing to try and decide what you may “need” (or rather want) for the next four years of your life, especially when you’re moving to a place where it’s hard to fully comprehend what your life will be like at. We know it’s on the coast of Central Africa, it’s a tropical climate, the road system is….in some cases non-existent, we’ll be living in a company run housing camp (in a proper house, with plumbing and air conditioning, etc. LOL), there’s tropical diseases, we want to do a lot of outdoor activities…. but what will life really be like? There were lists, lists of items that other people thought were the necessities of life, or wish they had brought with them, in our new home. So we went shopping, we must have been to Ikea a half a dozen times in the 2 month before we moved, and at least as many trips were made to the hardware store. And the amount of packages from online retailers that arrived at our house during that same time period was just ridiculous. So our house was overflowing with an array of boxes and random bits and bobs. Then we had to decide what was essential to take with us on the plane because¬†it could take 6 months before we saw anything that gets packed into the shipping container. So our house was a little chaotic…

 

Then the packers arrived… our house was filled with bodies and boxes and brown wrapping paper. At a certain point it became impossible to keep an eye on everything to make sure everything that was packed was supposed to be packed, so I’m pretty sure we’re going to find some boxes full of trash when we see them again in a few months… A day and a half later our whole life was neatly laid out in boxes all over our living room. 334¬†pieces to be exact. Our walls were bare, our cupboards empty, our windows uncovered. And soon everything was gone, taken down our (steep) stairs or out our window, packed into the shipping container. The container was sealed and it was done. It was funny seeing our house like that, the same way as we saw it for the first time when decided to buy¬†it, completely empty, a shell of what it was/could be.

1010128_10153099451462486_7664398418153670779_n

10407869_10153099451337486_4583825386130900299_n

11021071_10153099451632486_3603321078361618607_n

1902855_10153100052482486_5553346365020143889_n

And of course there were the goodbyes… We planned a “borrel” to say goodbye/see you again later to all of our friends and family in the Netherlands. It was emotional… happy and sad at the same time… so happy to spend time with everyone we love… so sad to say goodbye and have no idea when you would see them again. Sad to see people hurting… happy to reminisce¬†about all of the good times we’ve had together…. The day before we left we spent with Teun’s family…our family…

10403608_403808059796963_5243004579694840695_n

10426145_403808523130250_3814859536904671471_n

11038248_403808593130243_4178330684612063444_n

Our first flight to Paris was at at 7:15am so we spent our last night at an airport hotelhotel at airport

 

We some how managed to get all of our luggage on the plane….

11035306_10205132553685890_6047281880263626015_n