If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

Saturday 2 April 2011

Today is the day we are to depart to South Africa.  We had issues with Joe’s passport and Joe getting here in time and the trip was subsequently delayed by one week.  Joe has been working like mad this week to get all of his work done before leaving and everything seemed to be in order.  His passport was sent to get the exit visa and we awaited its return Friday morning in time for our Friday evening flight.
So it makes complete sense that the Oil Worker’s Union decided to go on strike TODAY!  We heard rumours last night that it might happen at midnight but no one knew for sure.  It was confirmed this morning when Joe arrived at the office to find all locals absent.  (They eventually did show up to gather outside the gates and discuss the current situation.)  Apparently, the plan is for all members on strike to gather at a common point this morning and march to the big oil companies here such as Total and Sogara Refinery.  Their plan is to shut down those offices (I’m not sure how) and then to move on to the smaller companies, like Halliburton, Weatherford, etc.  Currently, there are some expats at the office but a local has cautioned that it might be a good idea to head home soon because you can never be sure what might occur with a large group of protesters.  Joe has set up his office at the dining table in the common kitchen of the staffhouse.
Our one issue standing between us and South Africa is Joe’s passport.  A local employee takes care of all travel and visa issues and she has sent Joe’s passport for the exit visa with a local agent.  We tried to phone the agent this morning to get Joe’s passport back and I politely tried to explain our situation to him in French when he not-so-politely responds that he only deals with Mama H (the local employee, and yes, it does sound like the Mob) and that we are not to call him.  We’ve passed it on to the HR manager here, an expat, and he went to the agents office to find him missing.  He will continue to track him down and hopefully return with the passport in question.
Barring any other major disasters and the return of Joe’s infamous passport with the exit visa intact, we’ll get the heck out of here tonight!  I will update you of any new developments and I really hope that by the time our Western friends at home wake up and read this, that all is solved and we are preparing to head to the airport.

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