Today is Saturday but I go to work tomorrow. We requested a driver and went almost two hours east along the coast to the ancient ruins of Leptis Major, an area originally settled by the Phonecians but later conquered and developed by the Romans. These ruins are much more spectacular than pictures can show. Many more later.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Hooray!!! Our bags decided that they had seen enough on their wayward holiday and they decided to join us in Tripoli. One of our driver's, Shamir (Sammy), came by around noon and we asked him if he knew anything about our bags. I told him that another driver that picked us up at the airport had told us they would be in today. He said that Akmed was off today and tomorrow but he would send a driver to his home and get the paperwork for us. The driver went and met Akmed and was told that the paper was in one of the vans at the office. He then drove to the office, found the paperwork and returned it to Shamir at our guesthouse. Shamir called our room and asked if we wanted to go to the airport. With glee, we jumped in the van and raced to meet up with our long lost wayward bags. After a good scolding, they agreed to stay with us. We sent them to their room with no supper as punishment.
We have safely arrived in Tripoli and most of the jet lag has passed. The flight over on British Air was quite lovely. The people were nice, the service wonderful and the food excellent. Once we reached London we had to go through the terminal and through security again. They handed us plastic bags to put all cosmetics, toiletries, etc. before we went through the scanner. We p[lowed through our bags pulling things out, finding that Lynn's cosmetics had "exploded" ( some didn't have caps and the change in pressure had made them a mess). When we went through the scanners, I forgot to pull the plastic bags out seperately so they "tagged" my bag for inspection. I stood around as they went through everything and then tested all of our "contraband" in the plastic bags. The only casualty was one tube of toothpase due to being too large. Oh well, the oddities of international travel.
Once we arrived in Tripoli, everything went according to script - really. The company had given us detailed written instructions as to what to expect, where to go, what to do, etc. so we followed the script. Our only problem was we forgot to give a copy of the script to our luggage. Our 7 checked bags decided that they liked the trip so much that they went on an extended holiday without giving us notice. After standing around for about an hour waiting for them to appear, I called my friend, who was waiting patiently for us to emerge from customs. He said to come on out and we would have one of our drivers come pick up the bags when they arrived. Lynn and I exited customs and were then told that we would need to fill out a lost baggage claim form in order for the driver to get our bags later. Our driver assisted me to go to the window to pick up a form, but the claims guy said that I needed to come back inside customs to stand in line and fill out the form. Now we had the dilemma of trying to get back into customs through the security guards. Ahmed was an excellent negotiator and after about 10 minutes and talking to 4 or 5 people, he convinced them to allow me to go back in and stand in line. I met some very interesting people from Malawi (graduate of the University of Missouri) and South Africa who were arriving for an African Union conference. That helped pass the time of day as we all waited patiently for the one guy to interview us and fill out the form (in triplicate with carbon paper). I spoke to Ahmed yesterday and he told me that the bags have tired of their travels and we should have them today. I'm getting tired of wearing the same pair of blue slacks everywhere.
The first day at work was what you would expect with HR forms and meeting new people. We had a lot of senior staff in from the states wo I hadd the opportunity of meeting them and chatting for a few minutes. I was assiged a desk in the Pool House (our office used to be a commercial office and residence which had a pool which has been drained and built over). To the surprise of HR, the desk I was assigned was occupied so I took an empty spot. It turns out that this is not unusual with some people leaving after a 6 month assignment, some away getting their visas renewed, etc. My direct report is one of the latter, in Malta for the week getiing his new visa. I am expecting that we will rearrange the Western Housing group on Sunday when he returns.
The job appears facinating; proving updated housing for the entire country. The concept of sequence of events in the design and construction area is foreign. There are some housing units (where we weren't involved) that have been completed for several years but have no roads, water, sewer or utilities. To some, this is frustrating; I see it as a challange to educate and keep the ball moving forward. The challanges will be great with multi-national contractors, construction supervisors/construction managers, the Housing Infrastructure Board (HIB), our client and the enormity of the projects. It sounds like a lot of fun, celebrating the small victories each day and not getting too upset with the daily setbacks.
Now if only my bags would get here . . .
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Confirmed for British Air flight at 4:20 pm Monday, June 22. How much of what to pack is the main question. I'm guessing we'll spend the next couple of days packing ... unpacking ... re-packing ... starting over again ... How many pairs of shoes do you need? How often do you send our your laundry? So many questions, I guess that's just part of the adventure.
The good news; it's cooler in Tripoli than in Houston this week.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Have you ever heard of HURRY UP AND WAIT? That's what we are going through. The bags are sitting half packed, we're making the rounds of friends and family but we can't go until we get the visa stamps in our passports. Libya stamps the husband's passport first and then releases the wife's visa number to get her passport stamped, about a week later.
So, here we are, patiently letting go of things Houston and reading up on our adventure. It's now looking like sometime the week of June 21 - 27.