Missive from parts of Africa

A light hearted and sometimes serious look at moving 6000km into a place in Africa: April 2007. Promoted back to South Africa, the missive will continue to track my foray's into deepest Africa as and when I get there.

Location: Joburg, Africa, South Africa

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ghana Again!

Have not posted for yonks on this blog, but as I am in Ghana again, it is perhaps right that I do a post.

You can have a look at my Facebook Page for my Mali Blog Entry. (tony de la motte in case you were wondering.....)

This is my last work trip for the year. Ghana is one of my better country's not least due to the fact I lived here for a few years. But:

The Flight is on a big plane
The Big Plane is SAA and with all their shite, they are still a decent African airline
I have an SAA Gold Card
The flight is only 6 hours
They do not limit the booze
The food is OK
The seats are as kak as any other airline in Africa
We have a House in Accra
I know people here

I did however, like an idiot, leave R500 worth of booze that I had purchased at duty free on the plane. Needless to say it was gone 20 minutes after I realised it was gone and asked the nice lads at "Lost and Found" to contact the plane for me.

Whoever took it - I hope you enjoy it.

Chatted at the house with Zack who is down from Burkina on his way home until 1am and went to bed after smoking a sleeping tablet.

We have a lad from SA who is on his first trip to Ghana. He was advised he was to be up at 5 and we were to leave at 5:30. (Thursday there is no plane to Tarkwa)

As he was in the HaHa room with no bathroom, I did offer my shower to him in the morning.

I slept

He Knocked on my door and I told him to go ahead and shower
I also had no idea why I was feeling so Farking tired.

I lay in bed bemoaning the fact that I was so bloody tired. I mean 5am is 7am SA time and I should not have an issue on 4 hours sleep.


My alarm did not go off

I checked my watch and lo and behold, Jimmy the Doos had not changed his watch to Ghana Time.


It was 3am Ghana Time - 5am SA time.

Needless to say I was rather acidic when he came out of the shower.

I tossed and turned until 5am (Ghana Time) and toddled in for my shower.

Strike 2 - when you in Ghana make sure that you turn on the water heater. I had forgotten. Jimmy did not realise that as he too was having a cold shower.


I hate cold showers in the Morning!!!!!

5:45 on the road for the 6 hour trip to Tarkwa. Jeri had CD's and Snacks. She also ripped me off as it was my job to buy the booze and as we left I had no booze.

Only got stopped once by the cops who were looking for the kidnapped Israeli and the Kidnapped Leb. Not sure if anyone of us looked remotely Jewish or Lebanese.

It is good to get back on site and see whats happening. I sweated like a pig and I really had forgotten how hot and humid Ghana could get at this time of the year.

Party tonight

Small Works tomorrow am

Obuasi tomorrow pm

Wedding Saturday

Accra Sunday

Home Monday

All in all should be a good weekend. I may be able to keep you posted.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Planning and airports!

Somewhere along the line my planning has gone for a ball of shit.

Last week – DRC
Weekend Home
Week – Mali
No Weekend home as I land at 12 at OR Tambo and depart at 4 from OR Tambo for Australia.
No Weekend Home but I do get a weekend in Sydney
Week in Mozambique
No Weekend Home
Week at Home
Back to the DRC

That’s really shit planning in my book!

Of course Air Kenya is delayed from Nairobi to Bamako for 4 hours. Nairobi Airport does not permit smoking on the premises. Insert further swearword here.

Fortunately Kenya does not require South African Passport Holders to have a Visa and you can fill out a form, get your passport stamped, wander outside, have your ciggie and complete the form fill, passport stamp to get back into the airport. I do pity the Pom’s who have to form out $20 for a Visa so they can have a ciggie.

Maybe someone in the know should realize that when you market Kenya as an African Hub and fully +50% of your passengers are in transit, it would be a nice touch to make arrangements for us smokers.

I actually had my passport stamped in/out twice as due to the extended delay I wandered outside to smoke again. I did however stay outside until the new departure time of our flight. We did try to have breakfast at the restaurant outside the airport, but they had run out of eggs. A replacement was Bangers and Chips.

As I sit here in the airport in Bamako on my way back to SA, with my new mini laptop, six hours advertised battery life, Air Kenya is once again delayed.

The fun part?

Look above! I have 1 hour 30 mins to make my connecting flight to OR Tambo from the now much loved Nairobi Airport. This will mean – no ciggie assuming we actually make the connection.

14 hours without a smoke? I will be the picture of happiness when (If) I land at OR Tambo, to be faced with a further 16 hours on the flight to Aussie.

And people say Travel is fun?

On the plus side – if I do land in time and all goes well – I may get lucky
*wicked chuckle*

Another reason to like site

There is always a fun side to going out on site. My trip to Mali bought out that fun side in a big way.

The main reason is the team that is on site. There are two Cape Colored lads – Site Manager and Site Superintendent – who have worked together for a while and who I always consider as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Peas in a pod. I worked with both the guys – at different times – during my stay in Ghana.

Okkie, after a good few local and imported brews mentioned to us that he is afflicted by a site illness that strikes often called piles. For gods sake we had one of our guys on site sent home for piles. However Okkie was about to go home on R&R. R&R in Mali is a mission due to an 8 hour road trip, 7 hour flight, 4 hour flight.

Therefore if you are afflicted by the dreaded ‘roids, facing a lengthy time sitting on a sore poepoel is something that you do not look forward to. Alvin offered Ok’s his “mothers” solution which was “Okkie, why do you not use toothpaste”. Okkie obviously did not have this trick played on him when he was at school and happily that morning, singing “Sarie Marais” in the shower applied a liberal amount of Colgate to the offending grapes.

What surprised me was the effect of the Colgate only snuck in while he was saying goodbye to the lads on site.

“Alvin, my poepoel brand man”

“Het jy rerig die toothpaste anngesit?” (Shock in voice)

‘Ja man – jy’t gese” (worried voice)

When Alvin started falling over with tears in his eyes. Okkie knew he was in Shit – so to speak:

Apparently he gapped it to the room and attempted to wash off all the offending Colgate before his eyes bulged too far out of his head.

(By this stage the whole room where we were drinking were in tears of laughter as well)

It however got better.

By the time Okkie reached the first large town – some three hours from site – his ass was really giving him uphill. He asked the driver – Justice – to find a chemist and stop suddenly.

Said Chemist found Okkie ran in with a clenched ass and obtained some ointment from the lady behind the counter.

Most people would have had an issue on the application of the ointment. Ultra Cities do not abound in Mali. If you read my first trip to Mali story, you would note that toilets do not abound.

Not a problem to our Oks. He drops his pants in the main road and bends over. Reaching back he hands the tube to Justice.

“Sit the ointment on my ass” he demands

“Nooooooooooooo Mr. Okkie” is the startled response of Justice”

“Sit die fokken shit aan” Okkie cries – in obvious discomfort.

(By this stage we are rolling around the floor. I always knew there had to be a reason why Justice does not speak much on this contract. The site of a Managers Roids in the main road of Sikasso will do that to a man)

Did Justice apply the ointment?

I have no idea

I do not want to know

I REALLY do not want to know!!

And that dear reader, is why I love going to site!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Travel Hell Month

What has yours truly been doing this month?


What will yours truly be doing for the rest of the Month?

Travelling :-

After the normal week of Recons and meetings, intimate time with numerous airlines appears to be on the cards for me.

Last week was the DRC.

We did however manage to jump on a client charter flight direct to Kolwezi. This was as opposed to the SA Airlink to Lumamashi, 5 hour wait and then Scary Airy to Kolwezi. The one downside was a 5:30 am start at Lanseria.

The flight was great. It was a 737-200 combi with 54 seats and cargo in the front. Nice food. I managed to sleep given the early wake up. The fact the flight was not full meant I had a three seater to myself and I made full advantage of the additonal space :)

2h45 min flight.

The landing was a gas as the pilot flew along the run way line looking for pot holes. This at around 300ft with a turn right and 180 left which would have done a F15 pilot proud. Never thought a 737 could stand on a wing like that!

Normal work stuff in the DRC. Two days of shouting and meetings and back to the airport on Friday am.

Our lad got the time wrong and we were told to be at the airport at 8h30. There was a Danish Lass at the hotel who flew up with us and when we rushed off to get to the airport on time, she was casually going through her breakfast. She laughed when I told her we were off to the airport and said she will be there at 10am.

Turns out she was right and we hung around the airport chatting and smoking until 11:45 when the plane took off.

DRC continues to be - in my mind - the most corrupt country in Africa. Everyone is on the take or wants to be on the take. The latest issue was my visa was issued on the 19th March and "had to be used within 3 weeks". The fact it is a one month visa was academic according to the short immigration lad who was refusing to issue an exit visa. Of course $50 would have resolved this immediatly. Our local Site lad resolved the issue.

Flight cannot take off or land with full fuel so the return journey was via Ndola for a pit stop. 3h15 on the way back.

Lanseria was a cluster fuck with the airline taking all the passports on take off and a mob of people waiting for their name to be called at immigration. Why people can not just carry their own passports is beyond me.

That said Lanseria has grown up nicely and is a modern small airport.

It is Lisa's birthday this week, so as I am not here, her restuarant of choice was Butcher Shop in Sandton. Robbie was off to a housewarming with mates and did not join. Food was good - as expected - and I managed to polish off a very good bottle of Fleur de Cap Merlot.

Loadshedding hit us - refer previous post - and I was actually fast asleep before power came back on at 10. I did however wake up at 4am. *sigh*

Today is a chill day with a nice roast planned for lunch - first Sunday Lunch I am cooking in a while - and packing for my next trip. Mali.

Land next week Sunday at 12 and get back on the plane the same day at 4 for Australia.

Going to be fun as regards time zones in the next two weeks.

On the personal side. Had a small barny this weekend got an interesting insight on the all or nothing syndrome. Well it seems like nothing is on the cards as I do not have an all in my bag of tricks!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I thought I would join in on the Escom Bashing for a moment.

The radio ad that glibly states because you have not saved 10% as we demanded we gonna turn your power off so you can learn a lesson is the one that peeves me the most.

Greeny the Power saver has since January 2008 - when the coal did not come home to roost - done the following:

- Put a time switch on the Geyser
- Turned the heat setting on the geyser down to "warm shower"
- Reduced the time the pool pump runs
- Changed all the lights in the house to power savers
- Ensured that no equipment stayed on Standby
- Canned using the tumble dryer
- Purchased Cold Water Omo and washes in cold water

Total saving in house electricity usage - 38% month on month

Apathetic Power User did nothing

Total saving in house electricity usage - 0% month on month

Both houses are load shed on average 6 hours a week as "you have not saved your 10% so we gonna punish you all"

Downright fucking arrogant if you ask me!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


While I am here!

I studied hard and passed my medical with (almost) flying colors.

- I have no STD's
- My Cholesterol went from 5.1 to 4.0
- My lung function improved from last year (smoking regulations in SA helping?)
- My Prostate is not enlarged (Quote from Doctor as he prepared to root around in my ring "If you do not put your finger in it, you risk putting your foot in it")
- My fitness?? is 83% of expected fitness
- I am still obese despite the malaria induced 4kg loss (which was what I lost over a yearr)
- My hearing is fine
- I do not have lung cancer (the jury is still out on other body parts)

Tasks allocated by Doctor

- Drink less coffee
- Smoke Less
- Exercise
- Lose weight

Odds of above happening



Headline FIN24 27/03/2008

The market may have overreacted negatively to the impact of the Eskom crisis on South Africa's mining groups, according to top sector analysts

No shit Sherlock!

Check out my post on March 7th 2008.

Took the top sector analysts a while to cotton on methinks!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

South African Inflation

Let us talk inflation!

Conventional wisdom in South Africa has been to control inflation via interest rates. Inflation has been set in a band of 3-6% and growth in the country is targeted at 6%.

Worked well for a period of time and interest rates were allowed to drop to promote growth in the country. As we all know, growth is good and allows for more jobs to be created and generally attracts investment. Investment is good for financing our balance of payments.

Then the good old US of A had a problem with weird financial instruments which, given the fact that we live in a world economy, affected banks all over the place leading to a loss of billions of USD given the write downs “required” by the banks. Those write downs are in my mind a very moot point as what the guys are saying is that the property that forms the final underlying instrument is worth nothing on the open market. Economics or pure manipulation of financial figures?

Oil Prices went through the roof and commodities followed suit. Maize prices are up, wheat prices have hit an all time high and so it continues. Fuel prices are raised monthly and generally the COST of goods have gone up substantially year on year.

Let us not talk about Eskom and their price hikes!

The reaction from the Reserve Bank is to increase interest rates to make it less attractive for people to spend money.

What this fails to recognize however is that if the COST of goods have gone up SUBSTANTIALLY year on year, the price will increase independent of demand. That is good old fashion economics 101 as one always has to recover their costs in order to stay in business. As interest forms a cost – be it a cost of borrowing or the returns from placing money in the bank – all that raising interest rates does in a time of cost pressure is increase the cost pressure. Ergo a spiraling effect.

So in effect increasing interest rates reduce discretionary expenditure, which reduces demand for non essential products. Witness the car industry shutting down production due to reduction in demand. As we all learnt in Economics 101, production has an economy of scale formula and the less you produce, the more the item costs to produce. Again Inflationary!

Net effect, companies will drive to reduce costs which will come at the price of reduced jobs and reduced growth in the economy.

Witness the rest of the world reacting to the crises by decreasing interest rates to ensure that their economy does not move into recession. Witness our lads increase interest rates in a vain attempt to keep inflation under control. When inflation is not driven by demand, interest rates are not going help reduce it. Maybe our reserve bank needs to take heed of that.

But then again – maybe not

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sick again?

I have not dumped much on this page for a while, but today seems to be the day. It happens when you have been sick at home for a few days and you get bored.

Once again I am laid low by a dose of Malaria. Once again I marvel at how malaria is viewed in South Africa as opposed to the endemic areas of West Africa.

If you go to a Doc in Ghana and complain about Malaria symptoms, he would prick your finger, spread a bit of blood on a slide, peer through an ancient school type microscope and announce “plus one” or “Plus two” or “nothing” and you would be treated or sent on your merry way.

In South Africa, you get checked over, blood pressure, etc and blood gets taken. You are then told they will contact you with the test results, but just in case you are sent home with R300 worth of Antibiotics, Dry Me Up Pills, Cough Mixture and pain tablets.

If you are positive, you get advised three – five hours later, climb back in your car, go and get the malaria muti, anti Ralph tablets and some headache tablets. This for R149

You throw away your R300 muti and start taking the R149 muti.

Is it any wonder that medical aids are charging what they are?

This bout however started around 12 days ago while I was in Cameroon. After Landing in SA, I popped off to the local Medicross Clinic (We diagnose in 15 mins cause that’s how close we put all our appointments)

Get R300 muti and get advised four hours later my Malaria test is negative. One week later, I am feeling worse than ever and go back for another check up. True’s fuck if I do not walk out with R400 muti and the lovely statement of “You do not have a temperature so it cannot be Malaria”

Next day, I am even worse. Did not sleep much and spent a fair amount of time over the loo with my stomach rejecting the mornings toothpaste. It had nothing else to reject as by this time I had not eaten in over a day.

I decided at around 12 to take myself off to the local hospital.

The Doctor asked what was wrong and I basically stated I was sure I had Malaria but for some reason the medical profession decided I had flu.

“So you do not trust the results of the test” she says
“No” says I “I have had malaria a couple of times before and this is what it felt like before”
“Well what happens if it is just flu?” she asks with a little more than a sneer
“Then best you give me something to get rid of it as the two courses of Antibiotics are not working”
“Antibiotics do not help with flu” she says “flu is a virus and antibiotics are for bacteria”
“Well then best someone advise the medical fraternity that prescribed two sets of anti biotics that fact” I state with just a small amount of acid in my voice.

-uneasy silence-

This time however I have a fever, so another malaria test is in order. They justify their 50% extra charge from “15 minute diagnosis clinic” by running a drip up with some nice muti to attack the fever.

I sleep while the liquid runs into my veins.

-Two hours later-

“You have Malaria” penetrates my fuzzy mind

“No shit Sherlock”

One prescription later and hopefully I am on my way to full recovery.

That said.

I have nothing but admiration for the gold/platinum industry and Eskom for conspiring to raise the prices of their commodity’s and still managing to complain bitterly that the 10% reduction in power will cost jobs.

Let us have a quiet look at the facts.

January before all hell broke loose on the power front
Gold Price $680/oz USD/ZAR 6.80
Factor 4624

March after one month of 10% reduction in power and an alleged 20% reduction in gold production.
Gold Price $974/oz USD/ZAR 8.00
Factor 7792

Reduce the factor by the 20% loss of production
Factor 6233

So dear reader!

Our gold mines are taking home 35% more revenue and happily retaining 20% of the reserves in the ground.

We all know that gold mines have valuations placed on reserves, and the more reserves they have the better.

And for this they say they are losing money and jobs are at risk?

Please pull the other one.

Oh yes.

Malaria is a notifiable disease

The nice lady comes to fill in the form

“Why did you take so long to seek medical help” she asks
“If you mean that me begging to be tested for Malaria three times over the last week makes it my fault, then so be it” I answer as I put my shoes on and get out of the medical peoples clutches.

On the plus side

I have lost 4kg and have not been able to drink.

I should be booking my company medical next week

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Lazy weekend?

One has to pay homage to the invention of the "Lazy Sunday Afternoon". That is exactly what I am having after a good weekend.

My new couches arrived!! With much cheer as I was only expecting them next weekend. They were offloaded and placed into their temporary positions, not before I managed to break the window of my french doors. *sigh*. Doors may flex when they are stuck, but as we learnt in school, the ability of glass to flex with said door is somewhat limited.

Our first statement was "Fck I am sure they were not that big in the store!!" The chairs are huge and even after putting loads of cushions on the chairs, I still have 4 big and 2 small cushions remaining. They will be put away for the time that something drastic happens to the existing ones.

I purchased new pillows for my bed and some for my daughter, who complained on Saturday morning that her boyfriend nicked her pillows when she was sleeping. Apparently she needs on to cover her face while she sleeps. *shake of head*

I had drinks and coffee on Thursday which was enjoyed very much!

Friday was the day a hired maid arrived and cleaned up the house. I am certain there is a system for cleaning that I have yet to discover as she did manage to clean the house really well in a day. It may have taken me a week or more.

Friday night was when vulneribility was bought closer to home as a very good friend got attacked outside her house. She has a very loud scream and used it to good effect, as well as her housemate using his to good effect as well. The wanna be thieves ran off rather sharply. This sort of shit happens so quickly and all one can say is safety is not something you should expect.

My pool is blue again and the fact that I can see the bottom meant I could finally see that as quick as the Creepy sucks shite off the bottom, it gets tossed back into the pool through the return. It appears my filter sand has given up the ghost. Another R650 next week to have the sand replaced. *double sigh*

Work resumes tomorrow and a busy year is guaranteed given the emails that have arrived in my mailbox over the holiday season.

Hope you are all smiling and happy. Tis a good state to be.

I did not

- get pissed

(not - the "get laid" is not under the I did not section - wicked chuckle)

Kilometers travelled on bike: ~16

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Home Improvement 101


It amazes one what can be done in a day where I decided to be a busy bee on the home front.

- Did three loads of washing and read the labels before I washed the clothes!

- Cut my Hair

- Hung up one load of washing before the rain came

- Tossed R450 chemicals in the pool

- Educated as to the fact that the reason why my PH in the pool was so low was that HTH Green to Blue (which we have been using liberally) as acid as it's one sachet!

- Washed my car and got the inside cleaned (for R35??? BONUS)

- Had the cement mix for my deck delivered.

- Purchased plastic sheeting which prevented the cement mix from getting wet

- Did my Exclusive Books trip and got two new books

- Had another dose of Nando's

- Cleaned out the grocery cupboard and tossed away a whole load of stuff which were waaaaay past the expiry date

- Finally got around to defrosting my 1/4 pig which I purchased in July 2007. Will make some nice freezy pork dishes with the R26,99 per kg pork. (tis over R40 a kg now)

- Napped

- My everloving daughter offered to get ribs for dinner

- Did my internet banking (and gave my everloving daughter her pocket money, which allowed her to offer the ribs in the first place)

- Ordered and paid for a take away maid tomorrow to do the ironing and washing of dishes and floors.

All in all a successful day!!

I did not

- Get laid

- Get Pissed

Km Ridden on my bike: NIL

Work tomorrow!

Wonder if Kenya Airways are still flying - hehe

Have a hoppy one fine people!!!

I know I did!!

2008 has arrived!

Spent New Years day and the day after on a farm in Limpopo with friends. Fark was it hot!!! Fark was it dry!!!!

I did however manage to

- Chase Cows into a Kraal for Milking (see the cows do come home)
- Got told I would be assisting with the milking the following morning
- Thanked the Lord that the milking was left to someone who knows how to do it!
- Chase more cows into a Kraal for dipping
- Ate loads of Milk Tart
- Improved on my afrikaans

I did not manage to

- Get Laid
- Get Pissed
- Speak Afrikaans so that people could understand me.

Got home yesterday evening to Nandos and the fact that rubbish collection day fell on a public holiday two weeks in a row. I now have the "rubbish dump" smell in my back yard as the dustbins fizz and bubble with all sorts of strange chemical reactions usually reserved for Lab's in Iran.

Pickitup has some questions that need to be answered methinks.

Total km ridden in 2008 - Nil

Today I finally get around to finishing off my pool deck that was started around six months ago. I have downloaded "How to Make Concrete" from the PPC website and will be looking for a place that delivers the required goodies. I will also be making good use of the Labour Corner for this exercise!!

Wish me luck!!

My farking pool is green again - which is apparently due to the fact the PH is around 6.0. A trip to the Pool Shop is on the cards as well.

Given the fact that today we are looking at a Temprature exceeding 30 degrees C, I may even lose a kg or 3.

Right!!! A bowl of Oats is calling and then the day starts.

7am is such a foolish time to wake up methinks!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Adios 2007

It has been a quiet time on the “Africa Missive” front for a variety of reasons, none of which I have the inclination to rehash – either on paper or in my mind.

I have however just managed to spend a wonderful two weeks in the quietest and quaintest places in the Eastern Cape.

So to close off 2007 and look forward to 2008 …

One of my objectives for 2007 was to travel more. By Travel More, I meant travel on my own account as opposed to my travels to all the non tourist destinations in Africa for work purposes. My trip to Cyprus and Italy (with a little bit of Greece and France thrown in) was the international result of that decision. The local results were Magaliesburg – twice, Parys, Henley on Klip, St. Lucia, an aborted trip to Swaziland due to a missing passport and trips to Nieu Bethestia, Prince Albert, Bavians Kloof, Addo and Smithfield.

In those trips I have stayed in quaint guesthouses, luxurious hotels, quaint hotels, tourist trap hotels, the ultimate waste of money guest lodge, old farmhouses with electricity, old farmhouses without electricity (no not due to load shedding) and the most hideously painted guest house I have ever subjected my color blindness to.

I have learnt how to use a storm lantern, cooked a Christmas meal in a Gas Stove, learnt that presentation does make a difference, spent the night in a “Pink Igloo” and revisited fixing punctured tubes on a bike tyre.

I have also ridden more than once on a bike, discovered that using a bike to see a small town is the best way to do it – given that one of the objectives is to stop at the local hotel and have a drink. I have also discovered that my fitness level is not that bad and I can cycle 16km without having a heart attack. (I must admit I do think 10km is a better distance for a 45 min ride *chuckle* )

I have enjoyed a whole load of meals at some very nice restaurants and have enjoyed a whole load of meals at some very basic eateries and still enjoy Nando’s and Sushi as my fave rave take away.

I have also learnt the true meaning of introspection and have realized that nothing in life is permanent, least of all one’s good health.

I have learnt that Love is something you will always enjoy even if the people you love are no longer present in your life. I have learnt that good memories are forever and bad memories will eventually fade. I have learnt that I was not destined to stay in one place for ever and I have learnt that even good ideas have bad consequences.

My 2007 building project was an unmitigated disaster. The end result is good, but the way I got there could go down in the annals of my history as the most frustrating four months of my life. The budget was well and truly blown on the job as well, but I do think I have a good thing to work with for the 2008 building project.

I will however choose my builder with more care next time.

Was 2007 a successful year?

Work wise it was.
Socially it was.
Intellectually it was.
Experience-wise it was.

Health wise it had its challenges

Emotionally it was not.

Maybe I can score 6/6 next year.

If I can – I will call it a successful year!

Best wishes for the New Year and I hope you will enjoy the new blog style for 2008.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Another Sunday Morning in an African City north of the Border.

As can be seen my the heading, I finally got to my intermediate destination, before my wing back to SA tomorrow. A tad later than anticipated, which has messed up my plans for Saturday as I cannot meet the people we need to meet.

That aside, we did get to the airport at 8am as recommended by our (embarassed) travel organiser. The airport had just disgorged a bunch of people and cargo from a non name brand ancient 737. Apparently these guys are working on another mine 70km's away from Kolwezi. Marketing 101 saw me hand my card out to the engineers and say "we are based permanently here with plant".

People in traditional clothes arrived, as did a brass band. I thought of phoning our travel organiser and thanking him for the send off, but it was unnecessary and I would much rather have got on yesterdays plane.

Appears that the singing dancing playing team was not for me. It seems that the President of the DRC was making a vist to the town and they were there to welcome him. It also appears the pres travels on local airlines instead of having his own jet. Respect!

The upshot was, the plane that came in was a bigger one than the sardine can we flew down on and there were seats on the plane for the 45 min trip. I sat next to a garlic chomping Japanese lad who slept the whole way.

We visited out site just outside Lumambashi and chatted with the lads about what was happening and gathered a bit of intel for future problems. We also did a mini shopping trip in the site stores container. *chuckle*

Last night Eben and myself toddled off - per foot - to the Italian Club who apparently had a nice restuarant.

They did and if you do not mind eating a R105 Pizza, drinking a R210 bottle of Italian Plonk, then it was a good meal. Siciliana Pizza tastes good here too.

It did however take ages to get the bill and toddle back to the respectable hotel for a nights kip on yet another hard bed.

I did have a nice chat on Yahoo with the Nessers.

Today I have some work to get out before 12 when we toddle off to a site braai that the lads will be having today. Tomorrow am we wing our way back to R S of A to a day full of meetings. Tuesday looks no better.

Hope you smiling happy people. I think I am

Friday, August 31, 2007

African Airlines

Today I had another experience with the vagaries of African airlines.

One has a ticket "confirmed" for 16:15 on a Friday afternoon. One arrives at the airport at 3pm and hands the aforesaid ticket in.

Problem #1 happens when one's ticket is left on a pile when boarding passes are issued to all and sundry.

Problem #2 is more severe when you see the nice lady selling tickets to other people.

Problem #3 is when you ask (in english) what the problem is and she answers in french and points to a booking list for 9am that morning where my name is.

Call the translator and he yabbers away in French and confirms that despite my ticket details, I was booked by the airline that morning.

Chirp and phone the agent in Lumabambashi who "will check up and phone me back"

Net effect: Phone hotel and pray they still have a room. Happily confirm that they do and ask them to please hold it for me. Phone travel agent and say best you get me on the Saturday flight and happily be advised that the plane is full.

Say to travel agent - "Best you make a plan"

As we stand now I have been advised to go to the airport tomorrow at 8am and hopefully get on the plane. If not - I am faced with an 8 hour trip on apparently scary roads for the 350km to Lumambashi.

Welcome to DRC Tony - hope you enjoy your stay!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


When you pay R1050 a night (bed only) for a hotel room, you expect something that approaches reasonable.

Ask for a menu at 8pm. (no problem)

Receive menu at 8.20 pm (humm - we may have a problem)

Hear waitron say "there is no beef" (The problem may be growing)

See that almost the entire menu is Beef (Note there is a problem)

Order a baby chicken and chips (That should work)

Be advised that the baby chicken will take 45 mins (Sigh - that is a problem)

Order Chicken in Curry Sauce (That should work)

Enquire about our food at 9pm (BIG problem)

Enquire about our food at 9.15 pm

Receive food at 9.30 pm (fark at last!!!!)

Sad that.

Tonight we decided to order food early, only to be told "the kitchen only opens at 7pm"

You cannot even get a cup of coffee cause "That is made in he Kitchen"

Yup - Hotels in Small African towns are interesting - and this is the best place to stay in town.

Who says travel is a gas??

This is Africa

Just another African country. I have said this before and I will say it again a few more times in my life I assume.

Flying a SAX turboprop for three hours to Lumambashi in the DRC is not my idea of fun, especially if the lad next to you did not appear to have taken much care when it came to personal hygiene.

The four hour wait at the airport – albeit in a nice lounge – further added to my mood enhancement trip. The fact that I never saw my luggage picked up was a worry due to the fact I had showered at the Gym that morning – farking builders had not turned on the geyser when they left the night before – and was still dressed in my tracksuit pants and T shirt, which makes losing ones luggage a major train smash.

I had just decided to have a beer – as opposed to the bitter coffee I was supping the whole morning – when the small plane decided to leave. Simba Beer is a tad on the bitter side for me.

Kolwezi is a place that has all but collapsed. Roads are almost impassable, electricity is worse that Ghana in the dry season and cops abound everywhere.

The mine is an education and it was evident that when the civil war broke out they were in the middle of a major upgrade. They have 7 brand new mills as well as heaps of equipment that has been lying there for around 25 years.

The best part was a welded platform on the ground that a tree had grown through. Not a small tree. A bloody big tree some 3 meters high. The painters had done a good job as it appeared almost new after so long in the elements.

The “hotel” at $150 a night is reasonable enough. The fact that they are building new rooms and this is happening right outside my door could be an issue. The fact they do not have a genset is an issue as power goes off on a regular basis. No aircon’s, but the weather is benign currently so the ceiling fan suffices.

But the bed? The Bed is as hard as a rock. I battled to sleep – for more than one reason last night – and the bed did not help at all. Taking the problem in hand however did.

The DRC when I landed looked a hell of a lot dryer than I thought. However vegetation on the flight to Kolwezi looked more like I thought the country would be. It then dawned on me that the fact we land at cities means the local populace has denuded the surroundings of anything that you could burn. The place honestly looked like it was approaching a desert around the cities.

We looked at renting a motel and some houses. Wonderful places 25 years ago. Run down shells now. Rent a motel for $4500 a month and you in the hole for $50,000 to make it habitable. The current owner rents the place to locals for $10 a night. He is overcharging.

Tomorrow we finalise some of the deals we need to finalise and wing our way back to Lumambashi. A weekend in Lumambashi is ahead as we are unable to get a seat on any of the flights that head off to JHB on the weekend. I have $$$ - I understand there are places to party in town. I will see if I can take advantage of this.

Oh yes – and also have a meeting with the auditors and the local admin staff.

Am I having fun?

Not 100% sure. I seem to have a hole just below where my heart usually is.

Life is indeed complicated!!

Trust you have fun this weekend happy people. I know I will try!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hiatuis Over!!

Africa Missive has been on hold for the past few months due to a sense of humour failure.

That is now over - I have rediscovered my sense of humour and can now start posting again.

What has happened in my life over the last few months:

- Nessers and I broke up - Enough Said

- I have been a busy lad - whats new

- I have done a fair amount of Travel (both Business and Pleasure) and have started a travel blog

- I am doing home renovations - fark!! What a mission

- I am going to visit my sister in Cyprus - HUGE SMILE

- I am going to spend some time in Rome and on the Amalfi Coast - HUGE SMILE

- I have made some really nice new friends and am rediscovering my social side

- I had Malaria rapidly followed by a dose of Flu - No fun

- The HOP is back - Mothers Hide Your Daughters (especially a specific mother in Bela Bela

Friday, July 13, 2007


Gawd, I have not posted anything in ages.

I have been busy

I have been thinking (maybe too much)

and I have been having some fun. (but not too much)

Will update when the hectic slows down a bit.

I am in Mali next week and Ghana the following week, so I should have some time to post a missive or three.

Hope you are all having fun!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Two weeks it was......

Another day, another airport.

After 16 days away from SA, I am heading back. Three Country’s – two of them for the first time – and countless security checks and packing and unpacking laptops etc etc.

The fact that all three countries are primarily French should be telling me something. The French are anal. There is no other word for it.

Burkina Faso airport took the cake as far as anal (and rude) is concerned. Oh yes – did I mention that the French are bloody impolite as well?

We decided at Burkina to check in the luggage early and then go for dinner. In Ghana they open check in at 7 for an 11 flight so this can be done. Burkina? Well you get greeted by the “Give me a Uniform and I will make your life difficult” person at the door. He checks your ticket and your passport (check 1). He looks at my ticket and directs me to stand outside.

“I want to check in for Air France” I mention.

“Stand there (French accent)”

“Can I check in please”


“Why not”

“check in is not open”

“What time does it open?”


“what time does check in for Air France Open?”

- more silence –

“Listen Charlie, are you going to tell me what time the check in opens or do I get unhappy?” (agitated voice)

- Even more silence _

Lucky Celia had actually got inside the door (French men and woman?) and she toddled off to find out check in opens at 8:15.

We had dinner at a stunning little Indian Resturant and the Rogan Gosh was as tasty as it should be.

9pm back to airport. Through Check 1 with not much of an issue except by checking each passport and ticket, check 1 causes an almighty backup outside the door. He however is not at all concerned.

Luggage in – boarding pass problem!

“You cannot sit together”


“There is no seat”

“say what – the seats were pre booked – best you check again”

“oh – no Problem”

Check 2 is just before customs. Man again stands at door, hands out departure forms and checks your boarding pass and passport. The only issue here is the Q is long and in order to get a form, you need to squeeze past humanity, get the form and squeeze back.

That is of course unless you are well connected and can just stroll through without worrying about the Q.

Check 3 is immigration. My lad was counting forms and pointedly ignore me while he tried to remember how to count.

Check 4 is a large lass who checks the passport and ticks a number in a book. The relevance of this escaped me.

Check 5 is a lad next to the large lady who once again checks your boarding pass and ticket.

Check 6 is scanning of hand luggage and a brief look at your boarding pass and passport.

Check 7 is when you start boarding and a man checks – yup you guessed it – your boarding pass and passport.

Check 8 is a physical search of handluggage and hand scan of your body.

Check 9 is – I kid you not – just before you board the bus and once again the man checks if you have a valid visa. (Fark me – if you did not have a valid visa, the lad at check 1 would not have even let you in the airport)

It was raining – we got wet getting on the plane.

6 hours to Paris. Foul seats – in the middle of the plane . I managed to Nap.

Paris was once again Japanese Tourist 101. This time however we knew the drill and knew which shuttle to look out for.

Once again – expensive shower and computer bags in storage as we caught another shuttle to the Metro.

The lourve. Celia wished to see pre 17th Century Dutch Masters, which were quite cool. She knows a tad more about art than I do, so she was disappointed and I was walking around like an Amish arriving in the big City. You can spend a month in the Louve and not see everything.

Eiffel tower – made easy by a Metro Day Pass – and photo opportunity closer than we got last time.

Arch de Triomph – (once again thanks to the Metro) and while I am wondering how the hell you cross the bloody great big traffic circle without been killed, Celia finds the underground access and shakes her head in exasperation at the newby.

We ate a quick lunch on the Champs. Salad was fantastic and the beer was very nice. Service was in a flash. Cost was EU50. France is not for poor people. *chuckle*

Finally – back on the Metro to retrieve our computer bags and check in for the 11 hour trip to Mauritius.

I again managed naps and small walk arounds to allow blood flow to my arse. Cattle class seats are not soft at all. Celia on the other hand has a bladder of steel and sat once again for the entire 11 hours with nary a pee(p).

Chilled day in Mau and a great meal at the Happy Raja, followed by a belated celebration of Romay’s Birthday at Banana Club with Celia and two of her mates who are spending a holiday with her.

Lucky Wench gets to spend the next three days in Reunion. Life of the rich and infamous I think.

Flight back to SA was uneventful and I welcomed my own bed, after tossing all my washing out of my bag. Nary a clean item of clothing left.

I had fun!

Now back to work it seems.

I only left the office at 6.30 tonight, still with some stuff to do. As I was the only bugger there, it seemed like a good time to leave and try and make sure I am all caught up by Friday.

Hope you are smiling

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Burkina Faso (Via Paris)

What a week (and a bit).

Let’s see what I can update you with!

Spend a very chilled Sunday in Mauritius preparing for the 12 hour flight to Paris and onwards to Burkina Faso. Celia is a clever, fun lass with a different outlook on life. There was some wine drunk, some cheese shared and a fair bit of laughter.

Gawie and his missus invited us for a quick dinner that eve before hopping in the taxi to the airport to catch the flight. The dinner was quick (and nice) and the taxi ride lasted some 20 minutes before I realized that I had left my air tickets and passport in Celia’s car.


Gawie met us on the way, once we had turned around, and the journey continued with my passport and air ticket safely in my paws. I can blame Celia for this mishap as she convinced me that my overnight bag was not needed and of course this is where my travel goodies reside. This was also where my book resided and it has spent the last week unread in Mauritius.

12 hours to Paris. I did manage to sleep some on the flight and was a rather tense lad when we landed as my nicotine levels had dropped below the dangerous level.

Quick luggage pick up in a crowded and small luggage area and outside for two quick ciggies while we looked for the transfer bus to the hotel.

Three ciggies later, we had still not see a bus, had phoned the hotel who assured us that a bus make the cycle every 20 minutes and lots of asking unhelpful French lads which bus was ours. Eventually we decided to take a taxi. The taxi driver too was grumpy as he had waited two hours for a fare that would only equate to E20, which included a Tip and charge for 2 pieces of luggage.

The hotel consisted of a quick shower. (Celia “you shower first” Tony “No you can shower first” etc etc) I showered first.

Once downstairs we realized that we are nowhere near the Metro and took a taxi to town.

Stunning! One word for it. Absolutely can be added as it is appropriate.

Pictures of the Lourve, Eiffel Tower, Napoleons grave, old architecture and all sorts of stuff. This done in less than two hours as that was pretty much the amount of time we had available.

I will post some when I am back down South.

Back to the hotel, and we decided to save a bit of money and take a metro to the airport and transfer to the hotel. Yeah Right! It worked out (after we purchased the ticket) that we needed 3 transfers to get to the airport and were effectively at the bottom end of the Metro, needing to get to the top end.

We rushed around for another 20 minutes trying to find a taxi.

We eventually made the airport, an hour long Q for the check in and another long Q to go through immigration (manned by 1 person). Maybe OT Airport is not that bad!!

Burkina Faso!!

Another African Country.


Another African city.

With the single exception of God This Place is HOT!!

The temp in the day hovers around the 40 degree mark and at night is not much lower.

The food however is good

The roads are good

And the hawkers and beggars are very persistent.

The hotel is basic. A nice bed, awful shower and wonderful swimming pool. All this for $120 a night.

We ate at some interesting places, courtesy of “The Lonely Planet” which once again Celia with her advanced planning had bought along.

We ate at the Akwaaba on Tuesday night. I had a great pork chop and Celia was introduced to Africa Road Runner Chicken. Her chicken had both of us laughing as she picked the sparse meat of the small bones.

Wednesday we hit gold and dined at Le Coq Blu which was a great place. I had a good steak and we finally found a French Wine that did not taste like vinegar.

Thursday, Zack had finally arrived after an 18 hour delay at Accra Airport, and we dined at a nice open air restaurant at the bottom of town. Open air is generally nice, unless the temperature is in the high 30’s and you sweat the way I do. Food was nice tho. I had a nice rare T bone. Celia had finally learnt not to order chicken.

Friday was at a nice wine bar, where we ate tender lamb and supped ANOTHER decent red wine from France. Two decent wines in two days. I am impressed!!

Saturday saw us consult Lonely Planet once again and toddle 32 km east of Ouga to the “Granite Rocks”, which were described as Granite Rocks where artists had carved out their art. We expected rocks with carvings on them. We got granite carvings that would not be out of place in any art gallery in the world. Apparently every two years, artists from all over the world come in for a month, smoke good shit and carve the granite found lying around. Again I will post pictures when I am back down south.

Once again the temperature was in the 40’s and I sweated buckets!

The afternoon was chilled as we await our flight tonight.

All our lunches were taken at the little Bistro close to the hotel called “Ches Simon”. Good clean food, good price and AIRCONDITIONING. We were quite the regulars there.

Oh yes! We did do some work. *chuckle*

Met with facilitator, attorney, three client visits, one site visit and made a decision on a house and plot of land for our operation here. But this was boring stuff and only warrants this one small paragraph.

We also battled on slow internet to download mails and respond when we could. Africa! My Africa!

Everyone is napping this afternoon ( I will nap on the plane) and I am in the hotel lobby about to post this.

Hope you all having fun!!

I did!!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Island Update

I worked the whole day yesterday. Tut Tut.

However we did get out to a wonderful Thai restaurant last night where some Satay Lamb and Angry Duck went down a treat. Some great Red wine, good company... what more can I want.

I would be embarrassed to say that I woke up just before 10am today. But I did forget to set my alarm clock and this kind of thing happens when I do not have anything to do today.

Golf is out of the window thanks for the Rain on the islands. However, I did manage to get my hair cut, read some of my book, chat to a honeymoon couple from the UK (who were a tad peeved that the rain was infringing on their beach time) (erm... you on honeymoon - shag demmet!!) and post this blog.

Tonight we off to a fish restaurant.

*pat of tummy*

Ahh well - maybe I will get a lurgy in Burkina next week to lose some weight.

I am having fun

and I am chilling!

(which is good)

Have a happy day people. Photos will follow when I get around to downloading them on the PC :)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ahhh - The islands call and So does JHB City Council

The start of another week finds me at an airport at the ungodly hour of 6am. However, given the fact that this is the start of a week in Mauritius, the hour can be forgiven. I do not believe for a second I would feel so comfortable if I was – as some of my fellow travelers in the lounge are – traveling to Lumumbashi. They also leave at an ungodly hour.

Check in at this time is simple. However the fact that my bag weighed 23kg seemed to be an issued for the lad at check in. This was resolved by placing 1kg into my hand luggage. Then he was happy.

Now for some reason, this process never ceases to amaze me. How by taking 1kg out of my checked in luggage and placing it in my hand luggage resolves the weight issue is something that escapes me. Another method that people use to keep me wondering as to who thinks up these solutions.

That said, Exclusive Books at the airport – no duty and no VAT – use the allowances granted to travelers to increase their profit. A book for sale at Cresta is cheaper than the same book at the airport. From what I understand rental at the airport is a lot higher than at a shopping centre, so is it just ACSA taking advantage? I think so.

The public servants strike did not appear to have impacted Customs at the airport. There were 5 people at 6am, which if I recall correctly when I used to travel on the crack of dawn flight to Swaziland was more than what was there at that time.

On the strike and increase scenario, once again the Government shoots themselves in the foot by announcing massive increases for the president and his MP’s. I could imagine the Government negotiator holding his head in his hands when this was announced in the middle of negotiations. I could also imagine a few swear words emanating from his mouth.

On a lighter note, I received a letter from the City of Joburg over the weekend, glibly stating that “it has come to their notice that my water and lights account does not have a deposit paid, which is in contravention of some by law” I responded with the following (in Part)

I refer to your letter dated 15th May 2007, received by me on June 1st 2007, stating that the above account has no record of having a deposit paid.

The reason for the account not having record of a deposit paid is that indeed no deposit has been paid on this account. HOWEVER, there has been a deposit paid on Account Number *******, in the name of Lenferna de la Motte, Serge Robert.

In 2001, I had queried why there were two accounts on the same property, one in my name and one in a bastardization of my name. Your wonderful people at Braamfontein accounts were unable to assist me, despite visiting and waiting ages to be served on three separate occasions. This was obviously also occasioned by the fact whoever processed my deposit did not know their debits from their credits and processed my deposit as a charge as opposed to a payment. If this has been sorted out, I have no idea as I ceased receiving statements a few years ago on this account.

So! Now that your Customer Relations Management Department has looked into my account and realized that something is amiss, MAYBE, just maybe the same Customer Relations Management Department can cast their beady eyes over account *******, realize that there has been a major bugger up and finally – almost seven years after the issue arose – correct the problem by placing the deposit against the correct account.

I assume this realization came about after visiting your stand at the Home Makers Fair, where a very nice man gave me a mug for changing my postal address. This of course three years after I had sent letters three months in a row changing said postal address. However the man could not get my name changed as he did not have the access to change names on the system. (May I suggest getting the same developers as Enatis to write your system so they could have access to the alleged “super application”).

Your requirement in terms of the provisions of the Credit Control and Debt Collection By-Laws of the City of Johannesburg No. 213 of 2005 have been satisfied. Is there any way that my requirements in terms of the Antoine de la Motte sanity rules could be satisfied as well?

I trust this letter bought a smile to your face, the same way it bought a smile to my face typing it.

Have a stunning day.

A de la Motte

PS. If you do manage to correct this mess, you will be the first person in 7 years to actually take the time and effort to correct what should have been a simple thing. Should you accept this mission, the force of Yoda and his three cute sisters will be with you. Should you not accept this mission, Yoda will just be shaking his head muttering “I told you so”

I do so love dealing with Government.

Am I having fun?

I think so!!!

Hop(e) you are too!!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Ahhh. Where to next

Well let's see

I can go to Mauritius for a week and have meetings. Apparently we are staying at Le Canonnier which can be seen here. (LINK).

I do believe I can have some fun there.

I get picked up at 8:30 from the hotel to the office on Tuesday. I have a meeting

(Difficult work day)

Wednesday.... I do not get picked up from the hotel at all.... enuff said.

(They have a Golf course)

Thursday I get picked up at 10:45. I do late mornings... I have a meeting and a cocktail function.

(They have a Spa)

Friday I get picked up at 10:15. I do late nights as well. I have a site visit.

(They have water sports)

I also have Saturday Free - apparently a Catamaran trip to a beach for lunch and Sunday at leisure before departing for Paris and 22:35.

(They have watersports)

I cannot with all honesty say I will be working hard.

But,,, I can lie and say "It is going to be hell"

Hope you are having fun as well....

I know I am about to

(assuming I get to leave SA given the fact that the Immigration people are on strike on Monday)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Know when to hold em, Know when to fold em

Well I almost have a visa for France.

However. There are things in life that people do that amaze me.

Applying for a French visa is a lesson in bureaucracy! Firstly, you cannot send your logistics lady if you have not been previously granted a Schengen Visa. You must pitch up in person.

Next up, they open at 8.30 and close at 12.00. However, if 150 people pitch up, that’s all they will deal with in one day. So if 150 people Q at 9am, they close at 9am.

That said – I arrived at 9.40 and finally departed at 13.45. All the while moving from one seat to the next as one got closer and closer to the windows.

Now there was this lad and his wife. They pitched up with a visa application and a ticket. Nothing else. As they moved down the Q, they realized that they needed more than just that. The lad spent a while in and out of the building in the next 3 hours getting all his stuff together and photocopying what he needed.

He was ahead of me, so he gets up to the window and lo and behold STILL does not have confirmation of travel insurance. The lady points this out and he try’s to bluster his way. Said French lady is having none of this and basically sends him on his way with the bland statement of “you need to get your paperwork together and come back”

His response was “well you need not be so rude and can be a bit friendlier”

You could see all the people in the Q cringe. If there is an epitomy of bureaucracy on the other side of the desk, which has the power to (a) make your life difficult and (b) refuse your visa, best you be nice to them.

That said the lad vanished, but kept his wife in the Q. He returned at 12.10 with, I assume the required documents. As we all thought, the nice lady behind the counter took one look at him and said “sorry it is after 12, you need to come back tomorrow”.

He bitched, he moaned, she called a large French Gendarme type lad with a gun on his hip and said lad was removed. Sage nods from people in the Q. Never NEVER piss off the nice lady behind the counter if you do not want to be given the run around.

Another fun thing, A Visa costs R566.04. Why they did not drop the 4c is beyond me.

A lass waited for her 2c change after applying for 2 visa’s and the woman behind the counter – another one – was mortified that someone would ask for 2c change.

I assume the R3.00 extra at the end of the day in her till contributed to coffee.

I depart for Mauritius on Monday, in the face of a government strike. This should make customs at the airport an interesting trip. In theory I have to be there at 6.30 am.

It does not help to be there earlier, as prior experience told me that they do not open at 5am. Thus it is going to a bun fight if Customs put their management to work. Problem is, management in theory also goes on strike.

This management had lunch at Monte Casino today with a client. Came home and did some work.

I am now off for dinner

Oh the stressed life I lead.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another week bites the dust!

What a week.

Work has been keeping me out of mischief – which is a sad state of affairs, but the work has been tempered by a reasonable social life as well.

Tuesday was a few drinks – very few, I was home by 7:30 – followed by 10 pin bowling on Wednesday night at a work function for Nessers work. I bowled 140, thereby beating all contenders by a minimum of 31 points. The hop, skip and bowl worked well and I retained the cup I won off the Nessers three years ago!

Thursday was a mini Friday, spent in good company and supported by good food and even better booze. The mini Fridays are working well.

Tis my sisters birthday today, and she is spending it in Greece with her daughter/s. I managed to phone and chat a bit until we got cut off. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUB’S (cos I know you read my blog once in a while *chuckle*)

This week the pressing subjects are:



When I landed on Saturday morning from a balmy 35 degrees in Ghana, I was treated to a nice wake up call of 7 degrees on the ground. Couple this with the fact that I traveled in Shorts and a T shirt, parked my car in the long term parking at the airport and had to wait 15 minutes for a shuttle bus, you will understand I was rather goose fleshed when I climbed into the car and turned the heated seats to 5


That had nothing on when the cold front hit. -2 degrees, ice on the ground and for the first time in a while I actually slept with clothes on.

Twas not nice!

However as I write, it is a barmy 14 degrees and I am quite warm.

I also moved into my new office. In the corner, Conference Table and Mark nicked the fridge.

Nice sun streaming in and the ability to open the windows if I want to sneak a smoke after 5.

(there was even an ash tray left behind)

Monday and Tuesday finds me in the town of Parys – yup – Paris is the following week *boast* for a strat session. The only issue is that the place is in the free state and we all know how cold the free state gets in winter.

I will bring a BIG jacket.

Wed – Friday will be back to the month end grind before I fly off for 2 weeks on the 4th.

I was most impressed with our beleaguered Minister of Transport when taken to task on the monorail. ( for those that do not know, a Malaysian company/ consortium offered to “give” R12 billion to build a mono rail from Soweto to JHB City). Jeff’s answer “No-one has actually spoken to me about this and the first time I heard about it was in the newspapers”.

That response stole the interviewers thunder and the next question of “Should you not resign” was possibly the worst placed question I have heard in an interview. JJ Hang your head in shame.

His response on E-Natis was a little bit contrived as he harped on how wonderful the system is and how it was coping with 33% more volume than the old Natis system.

Yup Mr. Minister – the whole reason why there are 33% more transactions is because the bloody system has not been working for a month, and by only processing 33% more transactions, it will take you at least 3 months to catch up on the backlog.

A badly implemented system and quite honestly someone should be answerable. It obviously will not be the Minister.

So the Gauteng Transport Minister is in Kak for doing a Malaysia “free lunch” all by himself and the Auditor General was forced to apologise to Jeff as the so called audit report stating that E-Natis had an 80% chance of failure was never actually sent to anyone.

Could the report have been written after the failure to cover someone’s ass?

I will leave you with that thought!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday - Ghana

Another day, another small plane.

I am about to wing my way down South on a big one, after enduring a bouncy small one.

Successful trip?

The jury is still out on that one!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Not much changes in Ghana.

What has however changed is the fact that the lads on site have cleaned up nicely (not just personally but work wise too) and we are in the final throes of the job.

Everyone is a tad "bossies" and have got to the stage when they just want to get out and take some well earned rest at home. The poor buggers have done almost five months on the trot.

I have a series of meetings which will endure until Friday when I once again wing my way back south.

I did partake in some good of fashioned 50/50 Captains as only they can serve on site. Sleep did not however come easily.

Another day

Another Neut- de - Coco

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Law is an Ass (and other travel news)

Our well renowned Constitutional Court made a “landmark” decision regarding Rape. Non Consensual anal penetration (Watch my google hits grow) has now been listed as rape. Not 100% sure why it was not before in all honesty.


It is only rape if you are a female. If you are a male, it is not considered rape, but rather sexual assault, which is considered a “lesser crime”

Now forgive me for shaking my head. If some guy (or for that matter some butch lass with a 12” strap on) shags me up the nort without me giving my explicit consent, that is rape. No questions of that on my side.

The courts “learned” opinion was they are not there to “make law”

In my humble non legal opinion, by determining that anal penetration of a lass is rape, when that was not the case in terms of the law previously, is making law.

Methinks our learned Judges are a tad confused. Two judges dissented! I am not sure what the other lot was smoking.

That said!

I am off to Ghana again today for a week in the Jungle. Always sounds a lot better than 3 months as was previous. The only issue is when I look at my to-do-list, I get concerned as to how I am going to fit it all in. That and a party with the client in Obuasi on Saturday night.


After three years of traveling to destinations that are not advertised as tourist destinations, I am finally scoring two destinations that are on peoples tourist list.

Mauritius for a week. There will be a series of meetings but I have no doubt there will be more than enough opportunity to do Tourist 101.

Paris for a day: I have a one day stop off in Paris (as opposed to Parys) on my way to Ougadouga (Burkina Faso).

Paris for a day and a half. On the way back from BF, I get a day and a half to do Advanced Tourist.

The best part about it is by spending an extra day in Paris, the price of the ticket reduces by R4000. So the accountant in me is happy.

Couple that with my decision not to fly Air Kenya until they have worked out why their 737-800 went down, the flight via Paris is actually cheaper then flying Air Kenya.

Another reason to make the accountant in me smile.

The only issue I therefore have is to apply for a Visa to Paris and I am A for Away.

See the smile on my face!!!!!

Hope you are all having fun

I am J

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Busy one? Possibly

What a fun week.

After spending Monday sleeping and Tuesday enjoying a public holiday, Wednesday saw work at full swing. Well almost. Ended up on a “course’ from around 12 and did reasonably well all things considered. We did however spend a while at the 19th where single captains were supped, I won some goodies after coming 11th, my partner won a wheelbarrow full of booze in the raffle and generally a good time was had by all.

The most interesting part of the evening was 4 guys trying to get a wheelbarrow full of booze down the stairs. After much huffing and puffing, this feat was achieved and the booze was safely loaded into said winners car. Most people would have tossed the wheelbarrow. Not said winner and more squeezing was carried out to fit said barrow into the back seat of the car. Thank fark the lad was not stopped by the cops. Could have been an interesting explanation.

Friday saw us at the office pub, where a few bottles of good red were supped and the problems of the world was solved between 5 of us. Once again, an interesting drive home. I really must respect the roads a bit more!!

Saturday was a rugby day and I managed to score some tickets to go watch the Lions get beaten again. This time the Cheetahs duly obliged. When I say I swear watching TV, I swear a whole load more when it is live. It was a box, so once again the captains flowed and everyone had a whole load of fun.

Everyone that is, except for Keith. We were walking to the car and Keith was left behind chatting to two new friends. After a while waiting for him, I phoned and ‘ he was on his way’. Twenty minutes later he was still on his way and ten minutes after that his cell was switched off.

For the next two hours, I discovered all the streets around Ellis Park while we looked for Keith who no doubt was looking for us. I finally found the lad, courtesy of the local fire department who was treating him after he had fallen down a trench where they were laying cable. Sore ankle and a cute gash in his head that made for lots of the red stuff.

I got him back to Nessers place, cleaned him up and put the poor lad to bed.

Next morning it transpires that his cell, wallet, chain and watch were gone. It then becomes apparent that the gash in his head was courtesy of the redistrubutors of wealth and he was actually mugged. Poor bugger. He was less than a happy lad this morning.

On the house front, I have commenced building my deck, which has the columns, set in concrete and levelled off. Today I will get into the frame and wood protection.

I have received the design for my new kitchen, which looks stunning. Have a few small issues that need to be resolved, but they did manage to capture everything I wanted and catered for my non-negotiables. Now to get a price for the stunning kitchen.

Off to Ghana again on Friday, so this week promises to be an interesting one.

Hope you too are busy and smiling.

I know I am

Keep it that way.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

View from "Point G (almost)"

View over the outskirts of Bamako
The smiling (and ever so slightly hungover) Celia
Bamako City
More of Bamako City
See that empty swimming pool?

See the diving board?

See Celia ask "I wonder what Monument that is"

See Tony avoid ripping her off too much

The trip to Sidu

Little Rock on top of Big Rock - or entitled "erect nipple"
Nice hills!
The small tar section just outside Sidu. There was an election taking place that day. Did not impact on this sleepy hollow
But there were more villages

Even More Mali Pics

Our Hotel. Run by the Accor Group (French obviously) and owned (apparently) my Muhammar Gadaffi
Mango's are readily available in Mali. They export them as well judging by the crates I saw on the airport tarmac awaiting the Air France plane.
The Streets of Bamako

More Mali Pictures

Titled two donkeys on a bridge. Donkey Carts abounded in the rural area

Mosque in the countryside

It did amaze me that there was this wonderful looking mosque surrounded by baked brick houses.

Athough not all are mud huts

Pictures from Mali

Mud Huts abound in the country side. I spose with no TV, the fact that you would have to rebuild your house after the rainy season gives one something to do.

Mali - Day Final

It is 06h15 at yet another African airport. This time Nairobi! Whoever believes that travel is a blast should do these overnighters with connecting flights. I have not slept since yesterday morning and even that was only 5 hours.

We had a mini drinking session on Friday night which involved cocktails aptly entitled “Timbuktu” and “Sikaso” There was a lot of philosophical discussion which is possible when one is well lubricated. We also confirmed that French Wine is kak.

I do believe we finally took the lift to our respective rooms at around 2am.

Now Celia had done research on Mali – as her job demands – and part of the research entailed photocopies of the Lonely Planet which – in theory – states what we can do in Mali from a Tourist perspective. Timbuktu and Doha was out the window as soon as I was delayed on my trip up and we had to drive to site due to no planes being available to charter. Apparently there was a presidential election on Sunday. I can honestly say with our driving around it was not that apparent.

So we toddled off to a place called “Sidi” which was listed as being 50km from Bamako and had a rock arch, natural spring and all this accessed after a 75 minute walk.

We found Sidi on the map, in our pidgin English directed Musa our driver in that direction and complained bitterly about our respective hangovers.

What Lonely Planet failed to mention was the road was not tarred. The vehicle we had hired had some African suspension. Take that and a cocktail induced hangover and you know there are issues happening that lonely planet never anticipated. We did however find Sidi, looked at it, nodded sagely when the 75 minute walk was turned down and I took pictures of “Small Rock on Big Rock” and Donkey Carts.

We turned around after 15 minutes and drove back to Town. Musa must have been thinking – in French – how looney these people from South Africa are. We then decided to find “Point G” which is a viewsite overlooking Bamako.

The jokes on how we would never find a G spot abounded.

Needless to say we did not find the actual G Spot, but got our now very confused driver to park on a Dirt Track at the top of the hill while we walked to the edge to take some pics. I have omitted to take my long lens and the haze was quite bad. The pictures prove it.

Back to the hotel, swim to rehydrate, lunch and a meeting with the local lawyers on the way forward.

Back to the rooms, pack and off to the airport.

We were due to take off at 19h30, and ended up at the airport at 17h00. Once again a standard African airport, coffee at $3.00 a cup and hard seats.

The classic was we were busy chatting, drinking coffee and running through some of my old blogs when the Waiter pointed out to us that our flight was boarding.

We ran for the flight and were the last to board. Missing a flight home is never an option, but when you arrive at the airport more than 2 hours before boarding and still manage to miss it, you will be the subject of much ridicule.

Uneventful flight – land at airport – have coffee with Celia who has an 18 hour layover before her flight to Mauritius and once again rush when the announcement is made requesting her to please meet the driver from the Holiday Inn as he had been waiting ½ and hour. No doubt she will get a good sleep in. Lucky Wench!!

Appears our flight is on time, so let me see if I can post the final Mali blog.

I foresee an interesting contract over the next 8 months.

*** Update

I arrived home at 11:40am. I slept from 12:30 to 5pm

Is traveling not just fun?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mali Day 5

My ass is numb. No let me state that a bit better. My body is numb from the waist down.

We were unable to get a flight to site. That meant we had to face a 7 hour road trip to site. Dada (our local contact) had arranged a Land Cruiser for the trip. We were to start the trip at 6am and hopefully get there in time for lunch. What did not bode well was Dada arriving at 5:45 and mentioning that he needed to sort out the spare tyres as both of them were flat. We had breakfast while we waited for the process to take place.

Starting the trip, we were advised that the owner of the vehicle had come up with 4 new tyres and did we want to go over and change them out. Already running late, I tossed my hat in with lady luck and said “no worries, we use what we have”. Fortunately we did not have any issues with the tyres.

The road from Bamako to Sikaso starts off really well. Our driver had – like all drivers we use – done courses on “press accelerator flat and hold tight” The road was newly tarred and we averaged 140kmph. I was starting to wonder why the trip takes 7 hours. (refer one of my previous posts where I made the same error). Around 100km out of town the reason why the tar was good became apparent. They were refurbishing the road. The road gradually got worse until we went through Sikaso and turned off on a dirt road. Pear shaped!

The road was ack!

Driver was doing 100kmph on a dirt road and we realized he had attended the rally course as well. I was like James Bond. Shaken, not stirred.

The mine is in the middle of no where. I mean it! There is absolutely nothing around it. Nearest bank is 2 hours away. Poor site lads.

Good meetings. Gained a good idea of the job. The pub had no Captain Morgan, so I drank beer and we were asleep by 10. The accommodation is good if basic.

We left site at 12 and a further ass numbing trip back to Bamako.

Arrived at the hotel, had a stiff drink, had a meeting with the clients’ rep, had another stiff drink and hopped into a taxi to find the Indian restaurant that Celia had marked on her tourist 101 list.

French country, English people. You know the story. This poor taxi driver had no clue where we wanted to go and asked for directions from the locals while referring to the piece of paper we had. We never did find the Indian Restaurant, but did end up at a Lebanese Deli. We all had Falafal and I had a nice steak. Jeri had Pizza and Celia a Hamburger.

Good Bamako Food. *chuckle*

We made it back to the hotel for coffee and sleep.

Today I had a quick meeting with “I have a brother”, had brekkie and we are looking to see if we can do anything touristy. Our driver is late (again) and the lasses have gone to see if they can buy Jeri something else to wear rather than her 2 items of clothing that she has. The poor lass has spent the last week with one pair of Knickers. Apparently she washes them at night and dries them with the hair drier. To say she is somewhat miffed is an understatement.

Celia on the other hand has found out that she packed enough tops to allow two people to be clothed for a week. Subject of much ribbing.

We have made good contacts, achieved almost all we set out to achieve and I am looking forward to the flight back.

The one issue is once again, I have a 2 hour layover before my connecting flight from Nairobi to Joburg. What do you think the chances are of me missing the flight due to a delay from Bamako? The bookies will not take that bet methinks.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mali - Day 3

Well I finally managed to get to Mali, some 26 hours after the trip started. Air Kenya did manage to pull out the stops to get flights confirmed via strange places and we friendly all the way.

That said, they did not feed us very well at all and all I had to eat on Tuesday was a really scary chilli dog, where the refried beans had been refried maybe once to often.

That said - I can also see how people can exit at the incorrect airport. We flew Air Maurutania for the last leg from Benin to Mali and the languages of choice were Arabic and French. I can assume that this is the reason why they put the name of the airport you are at in Large Letters. *chuckle*


Another African City.

Roads are somewhat decent where they have managed to put tar down. The buildings are in reasonable nick and the Sofitel where we are staying is a decent - if expensive - hotel.

The streets are dirty and the west african open drains abound. People speak french and I speak english with grade 1 French. It makes for interesting communication.

We had a meeting with tax accountants and lawyers which entailed us asking a question in English, really long and animated discussions in French and the answer in english which usually consisted of "yes"

I am sure they were discussing the latest soccor results to make it look as if the question was a difficult one.

Jeri lost her luggage - and she had the shortest trip - so she is not a happy camper. We did toddle off to the local pharmacy to purchase her toothpaste and a toothbrush as she was looking rather ragged. Her essential purchase also included skin cream. Tis a woman thing :)

The fact that her luggage was lost in Dakar and she is not returning via that route does not bode well. We all assume her clothes are on sale in the market in Dakar - Home used.

I am off to site today - 7 hour drive - as we were unable to get a plane to take us in due to the presedential elections on Sunday. The alarm went off at 5am. Not good.

We had road runner chicken as our first meal - tough chicken with skinny legs is a west african constant.

We did however have a good meal at the hotel last night even though the cost was $280.00 for 6 people.

Lemme at em.

Have a great one people - will update soon.

Oh yes - as an aside, Blogger seems to pick up that I am in a French Speaking country and has unilaterally decided that all the buttons and writing shall be in French.

I will now press the "Publier" button and see what happens.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Mali - Day 0.5

Well the flight was further delayed for "technical reasons" (read a red light on the dash that caused the pilot to shit himself).

New departure time 04h30.

This of course means our connecting flight is well and truly in it's moer.

So. In true Air Kenya Fashion we are now booked on a flight to Benin departing 14h30 and finally will arrive in Bamako at 19:50 tonight.

The positive aspect is I can tick Benin Airport off my Africa Airports list.

At R15,00 for a coffee the pub here is making a fortune.

Oh yes. There are around 40 guys who are demining in Sudan. Respect.

I am still having fun?

Mali - Day 0

A journey, they say, starts with a single step. In this case however, my journey starts with a delayed flight.

O R Tambo airport is pretty dead at 11pm at night. I must admit in all my years of travel, I can honestly say this is the latest I have ever taken a flight at the airport.

Did you know that all the duty free shops close at 10:30 pm? I did not know that.

Did you know that there is only one flight out of JHB after 11:30pm? I did not know that. When you think of Accra airport with many flights leaving after midnight, JHB is not quite the hub I thought.

That said, Kenya Airlines is living up to the reputation of a poor airline with their flight to Nairobi delayed until 02h25. That from an original departure of 00h40. Now we have issues. I have a connecting flight from Nairobi to Bamako. That flight is schedule to depart of 06h00. With the new departure time, we will land at 06h30.

In a normal world, that would fark up the connection totally and effectively I would be looking at spending 24 hours at the airport in Kenya. However it does appear Kenya Airways is an equal opportunity airline and the connecting flight to Bamako is also delayed. It now departs at 08h55. So? I score. I still make my connecting flight and the only thing that is lost is 3 hours overall. That of course assumes that 08h55 does not become 11h45 or something of that ilk.

The journey to Timbuktu has begun!

Mali here I come

Tonight I head for the sprawling metropolis of Bamako in Mali.

We have a job there and it is a working visit to go see what is happening there, set up the legal vehicles and work like a dog.

My to do list is a long one! One of the items is the site visit. 300kms from Bamako - 7!! hours by road. I am trying to get a charter flight to make the time spent a bit more productive.


We have planned to see Timbuktu


Just to say “I have been to Timbuktu” of course.

Have charged the battery on the camera

Have got comfortable shoes

Hopefully will come back with some fine pics of yet another African Country.

Wish me luck!!