Independence Day, slash that, Week

Friday 19 August 2011

Gabon’s Independence Day is August 17 and this year, they celebrated 51 years of independence from France.  Obviously, the 17th is a nation-wide holiday each year just like Canada Day for us but there is one key difference; each year the government decides how many days everyone will have off in addition to the 17th.  This year it was announced we would have the 15, 16, 17 & 18 for celebrations.

The government only announces this immediately before the holiday is to commence so this year we heard rumblings Friday evening and it was confirmed Saturday morning at the police station when they told us they were closed until the following Friday.  (Yes, even the police station closes!)  This makes it virtually impossible to organize any sort of travel plans, which is sort of annoying.  Joe could have taken today off and we’d have 9 days of travel time.  Instead, we stayed in Port Gentil.

It is also a little annoying not knowing in advance that all of the stores are going to be closed for the week.  This made doing all of those little jobs around the new apartment difficult, as we weren’t able to get any supplies.  Luckily, the supermarket opened for limited hours throughout the week so we weren’t forced to starve!

The President of Gabon arrived in Port Gentil Saturday afternoon and as far as I know, this was his first trip to our city since we’ve lived here.  He has a giant palace downtown only a couple of blocks from our new place that sits vacant all year long.  Many of the roads were closed and guarded by the army and police for the afternoon so that he’d have a clear route.  I’m not sure how long he stayed but not long enough for the festivities on the 17th.

At midnight on the 16th they had a fabulous fireworks show.  It was fabulous even to Western standards and Joe and I had the luxury of watching from our home as they were set off 1 block from us on the ocean.  The next morning the main event was a parade although Joe and I never went.  (He went to work in the morning.)  Afterwards, most foreign companies organize a party for all of their employees complete with food but as I’ve mentioned before, Halliburton Gabon sucks and no such thing was done for us.  (They did have shirts and dresses made for all of the local employees but expats were not included.  Perhaps they also had a party but we certainly weren’t on the invite list!)

(I tried to upload a firework picture here but Wordpress is giving me an error  - sorry!)

All in all, we enjoyed our relaxing week and Joe trudged off to work again this morning for one more day before the weekend!

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