Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The end of Africa journey

Today, I’m a proud daddy’s little girl who can happily claimed she has successfully completed her 6.5 months Africa life. Despite the tough pre-mid life crisis, stinky environment, silty country and more and more work stresses, today I can finally concluded that the 6.5 months experience was priceless. The journey to an African country was never an easy one. I have to quickly adapt to the change in environment, change in culture, change in work ethics, change in communication skills, and most importantly was change in mindset. Without the lalter, nobody can ever survive in any country.

Africa is totally different than any other countries that I’ve been to. Not that I’ve been to a lot of places, but with my limited travelling experience, I still think there are a lot of things that you should expect if you ever went to this country. Based on my one and only African country experience (soon to be a second one, duh!), one should expect the following whenever you book your ticket to Africa.
  • Expect lots of diarrhea, so be very careful when it comes to food. Don’t get too excited with their local food and never ever make any drink using the tap water. In Mauritania and I believe in many other places too, they have big issues with water supply. In Mauritania for instance, has no drainage system at all and limited sources of water. People value water more than anything else, and to be able to get a proper shower in the morning and evening would probably be in most of the local peoples’ wish list. No I kid you not. 
  • Learn their language. It’s not necessarily important to be fluent in whatever language they speak, but enough to grab few key words to get you going around. In Mauritania, they speak mainly French and Arabic and I don’t know any of both. I learnt few French words there and pretty much can get me survived in the city. But French is quite difficult I would say as they have separate lingo for male and female and many other things that I don’t even know how to describe! But hey, I enjoyed speaking French. Bonjour!
  • Lower down your expectation. If you came from a hip metropolitan city where you think people are very much civilized (except for mat rempits?), then you have to quickly change that perception. It’s always good to have ZERO expectation wherever you go so that you won’t end up disappointing yourself.
  • Do not bring your favorite expensive clothes. Not sure of other African country, but Mauritania is a country of sand. I believe it’s just the same in other parts of the continent. I had my brand new shoes sand blasted after just 2 weeks of living there. If you were ever to be deployed to this type of country, bring a cheap shoes and clothes. As they also have problems with water supply, you may want to consider bringing dark color clothes.
  • If you have international driving license, don’t bother using it. Not sure of other parts of the continent but Mauritania is a dangerous place for me to drive. They follow French rules, left hand side driver and they have almost no traffic light. They are developing and just had their traffic lights installed. Give it few years, and I think they are going to be okay.
  • Their night club was pretty much happening and don’t be surprised to see fully covered female end up having very minor clothes on her body when she entered the building. AHA!
I enjoyed myself there and learnt their culture. It’s disappointing as I didn’t manage to explore the whole city, didn’t go to the dunes or even ride a camel or donkey!! Better luck and more time in the next project!
More Africa project and I’m pretty much prepared for it. Bring it on bosses! :P

Among the best moment I had on the rig.. miss you grandpa!!