Lost in Translation

I am sure I could have come up with something more clever for the title, something not already starring Bill Murray in a foreign country, but this is where I landed. So far, most of my experiences revolve around the use of very poorly spoken French, so it only seemed fitting....hopefully, I can paint the pictures more accurately in English. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bienvenue á Gabon!

Remember that time I was all like “OMG, guess what?! I’m moving to Gabon, Africa.” And you were all like, “What?! That’s crazy.” And I was all like, “Whatever! It will be easy.” Just wanted you to know you were right. It has been crazy.

But I have to admit, in spite of trying to sort 12 years of life into 3 piles (to store, to ship and to pack) in 2 days, moving out of our house of 5 years in 4 days, sending our dog of almost 13 years to a new home, driving 6 hours across the state, shopping for 97% of Christmas on Christmas Eve, visiting 3 sets of family, re-sorting everything post-Christmas, getting on a plane with 10 carry-ons, 10 suitcases and 3 pillow pets, spending 19 hours traveling across 3 continents, almost missing a plane in Cameroon and finally arriving in Libreville sans aforementioned 10 suitcases, I could not be happier.

The trip was easy enough…considering. The only real adventure was in Douala, Cameroon. We got off the plane and felt like we had burst into flames thanks to our Virginia travel clothes. We had less than an hour to find our connecting flight and had no idea where to get boarding passes, so we decided that grinning, sweating and stopping people who looked as though they might know, would be the best approach. Fortunately, our collective French sucks, which really is just an easy way to keep things exciting. Hence, when we “said” we needed the South African Airlines counter, a nice gentleman whisked us away, past the long lines at the actual SAA counter, up some secret stairs, down a long hallway and into a small office. At which point a very confused woman told us we needed to go to the actual SAA counter. By then we had made enough of a scene that, as we came running down the stairs looking like really bad and unusually sweaty sherpas, a wonderful woman met us with boarding passes, got us through security and escorted us approximately 27 miles on foot to the departure gate. We raced onto the plane, got seats…and sat for another 40 minutes. A bit anticlimactic, but at least it was the last leg.

One more quick flight and we got to Libreville around 11pm local time on Tuesday night where we were met by 2 people from Chris’ team – Nicole, a fabulous French girl, and Giles, the ex-British Army veteran and former security-guard to billionaires. Now we find out that we don’t have any of our luggage, it’s just us, the carry-ons and Winter, Waddles and Gary George, the pillow pets. Fortunately, Nicole did a lot of translating and she and Chris got things sorted out.

We got to the hotel after midnight, but it is lovely. Nicole and Giles told us we had a suite, but what they meant was 2-bedroom apartment. It’s huge. I don’t think a bed has ever looked so wonderful. Nobody, and I mean nobody, woke up before 11am the next day. Thank God for black out curtains.

So the adventure begins….

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