Thursday, August 20, 2015

Just a Bump in the Road

We are fortunate to live only 10 minutes away 
from Charles' work location in Douala 
on a no-traffic day 
in the sunshine 
with both fingers crossed.    

Actually the mornings are very nice and it only takes Charles about 20+ minutes 
to get to work.  Of course, he leaves about 6:30 am or so, which helps.  
He has his smoothie in the car and starts checking emails  
on the way - so it's even productive time.  
 (Yes, he has a driver to take him to and from work....) 

However, in the evenings, it has taken as
 long as 3+ hours for him to get home.  


The problem is that there is only one way into the port area where his 
offices are located - and only one way out.  

They have been doing construction and it's the rainy season, so there are potholes.  

Not little potholes, but potholes where you could possibly get lost!  


He had described the road to me, but on Saturday, 
he wanted for me to experience it first-hand.  


It was definitely an experience - 
and the motorcycle taxi driver shown above, agrees.  :) 

Thankfully we drive an SUV and just go right through the water - 
but I have to admit that these are the worst potholes I have ever seen.  


And some of these potholes even have currents!


In the evenings when Charles leaves work, there are often 
disabled trucks and cars stalled in the water and a huge line 
of vehicles trying to make their way down the road.  


Sometimes the lines are so long and so many vehicles stalled
 that the traffic just stops completely.  There is absolutely no way out
 and no other option but to sit and wait.  
The driver told me that this was a good day, decent roads, 
not as much water as before and it was a quick trip into the port.   
I am glad that I didn't experience this on a BAD day!    
  
Welcome to a third world country during rainy season! 

In most parts of the world, these would not even be considered roads.  
However in central Africa, people just press forward with whatever 
conditions they have in front of them.  

After a few turns, the road conditions improved a bit.      

Even with less water, it is still a pretty bumpy ride!  


The back of this truck reads, "God's Time is the best".   
This is good to remember especially when you are sitting and waiting... 

The road clears finally as we pass the Dangote Cement Factory.
This road runs beside the Wouri River right into the port.  
As we enter the office and warehouse areas, 
the security guards are waiting to open the gate. 
We are getting close...
Here's the Tidewater office and warehouse - 
or Pan Marine as it is called in Cameroon.  
This is the main office entrance.  
Walking in, it felt like I was walking onto a ship, especially 
seeing the dark glossy wood and the very steep 'ships' staircase. 
The first office to the right is the Port Captain.  
The photograph shows the President of Cameroon.  
It is common for his picture to hang in every office building in the country.  

Maps and Charts for the Port Captains...


Even the hallways resemble ships - along with a ship's bell.

 I like the pole to the left with holes in it as 
we move into the area where Charles spends lots of his time. 
His office has a glossy ceiling, which helps to cover up the termite damage.  
There's another picture of the President of Cameroon in the left corner.   
He also has a lot of maps on his wall.   This may be why he would do 
well in the Amazing Race or a trivia contest!  :) He's the one to ask 
if you want to know where any country in the world is located. 
 I know this because I ask him often! 
 No,  he doesn't wear shorts to work.  We were there on Saturday afternoon. 

 This map shows (more or less) the areas the office covers. The leases for the oil fields are outlined on the map as well.   The Gulf of Guinea is the area from Gabon to Ghana.  So, if you hear on the news that the Gulf of Guinea has had another pirate attack, you'll know exactly where to look.  
We live about an inch above where the "C" in Cameroon is shown above. 
 Afrique   -   Afrika   -   Africa
(French) (South African Afrikaans) (English)   
The equator runs through part of the green section.  From West to East, the line runs through Gabon, The Republic of Congo, The DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), Uganda, Kenya and Somalia.  We live only 4 degrees above the equator in Cameroon. 

One of the many Tidewater ships.  This is a PSV - Platform Supply Vessel 
Additional Supply vessels 
I thought this wood carving was really well done.  
There are panic buttons on all of the walls.  
If one is pushed, the main siren goes off.  
I just found this intriguing - just like on a ship.  
We have panic buttons in our homes too.  :) 
The rail line runs parallel to the port.  
 When traffic is bad, this is the area that you want to cross quickly.  
The last curve in the road before leaving the port area.  
And we are back on the main road.  You can see the terminal on the right.  
On a side note, every time I see one of these moto/trucks from the back, it reminds me of the Amish in Pennsylvania for just a minute.  :) 
And I promised a side view of the Bentsikins - moto/taxis - 
with the umbrella on top. Doesn't it look like a long baseball cap?  
The ingenuity is just incredibly impressive! 

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