Monday, May 22, 2006

Dogs and the earth shakes again

Following a rather long discussion on the mailinglist Grrringo I have posted a photo of our 2 dogs Mishi (the lighter female) and Scooby. I discovered that taking photos of dogs is not easy - either they are right up your face or running away. It took like 5 attempts before I managed to get this not very good shot.

Last night the ground shook again, a light tremor or earthquake. This time we woke up! A strange experience, first it sounds like some really heavy trucks are driving somewhere but when things start vibrating you understand what is happening. Did not last very long. Must have been very small because it has not been mentioned on any news site to my knowledge.

Then woke up later by the sound of 2 gunshots somewhere in the area. Now that is a lot more scary. All in all not really a good night's sleep.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Never a dull day

You have to admit one thing with Air Zimbabwe, life is not boring when you use their services.

Flying home on Saturday I was of course extra early to check-in at the airport. Actually I was the first one to do so. I was met by the same lady who the day before was trying her best to sort out the mess and she said "if there is business class on the plane I will upgrade you" and "we are using the bigger plane so the flight home will be shorter".

At least the short flight was of course good news, it was only that I don't have phone coverage in Zambia and even if I had my battery was flat. Asked a fellow passenger if he had coverage and yes he had but no money left in airtime.

On top of that we leave early! And I had no way of telling Mia until I get to Harare.

Well, there was no business class on this flight but instead they reserved the first 2 rows for me alone and gave me "business class treatment". So I had the little hot towel, choice of newspapers, served before anyone else etc. Nice of them to at least try and I am sure the rest of the passengers were asking themselves what VIP I might be, specially given that I was now in all but fresh clothes.

Arrive home some 45 minutes early and after finding a way to call Mia I find that she is on the other side of Harare at a birthday celebration. So I was stuck at Harare Airport instead but OK, I had an interesting newspaper to read and at least I was now HOME.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

AWA - Africa Wins Again

You did not help by crossing your fingers! In other words - I am still in Lusaka on Saturday morning writing this.

What happened? Air Zimbabwe happened. I had just paid my airport tax when all of a sudden we are told that Air Zim check-in is "closed". Note this is like 1.5 hours before takeoff... after much confusion it turns out that they had overbooked by at least 10 passengers. Great....

Amidst all this I all of a sudden see a familiar face, old friend Maren Lieberum from Zimbabwe many years ago, I think she left around 2000. Not only was it good to see her again but I could use her phone to get hold of Elias who had just dropped me and left for town (I have no roaming cover in Zambia). So he comes back and we try to sort out the situation.

After well over an hour of angry passengers, a very tired but kind lady from Air Zimbabwe, Zambian Airways trying to help, calls to Lubumbashi to find out about empty seats on an Air Zim plane there etc. I gave up and decided that another night in Lusaka seemed like the "least bad option".

Back to Chrismar Hotel that now was fully booked... Elias performed some sort of trick and a key to another suite magically appeared out of thin air.

I was by now feeling decidedly pissed off and tired so went to Spar and bought some red wine and decided to spend evening in front of TV or on famed wireless internet. Returning to hotel I find out 2 things; wireless internet still not working "technician out of town" and TV only showing 2 local channels "technician out of town".

Now more desperate than anything else decided to treat myself to nice dinner (no burger thank you) and some really strong double GinTonics (also known as GinTalkShit). About a liter or so of them.

Sitting drinking I notice 2 single ladies at a table are actually sort of trying to wave me over to their company. Feeling all but in the mood I do my best to ignore them. That turned out to be difficult as one of them came over and introduced herself as the sister to the singer in the band that was busy warming up and said "you look bored why don't you join us instead more people will join later".

I thought - what the heck. Why sit here and feel like doomsday when I can chat away in possibly good company? If I was not happy with something all I had to do was to sneak back to my room right?

All in all it turned out to be one of those very unexpected great nights out. The women were good fun (Joyce one of those people who you start thinking when does she even breath during all that talking), the band was good, the brother a really nice guy. When the friends showed up they turned out to be 3 more decidedly good-looking women. So I am now the only guy at a table with 5 good-looking women. Do you think I was the envy of about 90% of the "single men on the chase"-crowd? Yes I was. And had good fun at it since my intention was nothing else but to enjoy myself. Danced, drank and chatted the hours away until they took off to next club around 1.30 am.

Well, I am paying for it today by feeling rather "dull" but nevermind, a really boring evening turned out to be good fun instead so how can I complain?

BUT if I don't get home today I think I am ready to kill someone at Air Zim and/or borrow a car and just start driving towards Harare. One extra night is more than enough!!

Now PLEASE keep those fingers crossed, OK?

Friday, May 12, 2006

A somewhat mixed day...

Some days are just strange. Thursday 11 May started just fine, both kids off to the Montessori preschool, for Eric his first day ever and he did not cry or want to go home or anything such.

Then I am off to the airport to fly to Lusaka for a 2-day (or 1-night if you so wish) working visit there. All goes well and I arrive on time to a considerably warmer Lusaka (Harare really has winter temperatures already).

Off to the office where work goes almost too smooth. Lunchtime I check in at hotel Chrismar and notice that thanks to my complaint last time (got a mouldsmelling room with non-working aircon next to the restaurant...) I now was upgraded to a suite. And they now offer wireless internet access free! Great!

Passed the shoppingcentre as well and prices are still completely absurd though, around 2 times the prices of Zimbabwe and Zim is mad compared to other places. Well, guess I save money not "having" to buy stuff to the family.

So after a long day back to the hotel, looking forward to an early dinner followed by jacuzzi (yep part of the suite) and then internetsurfing just for fun.

Alas, that was not quite to be. I got as far as to the restaurant where after about 20 minutes I got my gigantic burger (the smallest dish on the menu..) and decided to add some chilli sauce to it. Shook the bottle first and quickly discovered the lid was loose.

Meaning I had chilli sauce all over myself. If anyone ever asks you why you bring an extra set of clothes for just 1 night away I have a very good reason. You might end up with chilli sauce all over your clothes!

After finishing my otherwise nice meal I now REALLY looked forward to that jacuzzi bath. Just thought I would get the internet wired up first so I call reception for password and settings. "Sorry Sir but the computer with all that is down and the IT technician will not be in until tomorrow. After 8 am". By which time I will either be having breakfast or on my way to work already. Well never mind not important anyhow.

So start filling up the bathtub. When it is about half-full the geyser is clearly empty as incoming water is now decidedly luke-warm. Jump in and put on the jacuzzi. The sound of a car without exhaust fills the bathroom. In other words, the motor is all but discreet.

This is somehow a picture of Chrismar as a hotel. Ambitions and ideas but somewhere along the line someone trims the budget a bit too much and the whole concept fails. Like sitting in a half empty, somewhat lukewarm jacuzzi that makes more noise than bubbles and a wireless internet that doesn't work when the guests are in their rooms.

But nevermind, I can do other things with or without computer and the room is otherwise nice. Now just cross your fingers that tomorrow don't hold any nasty surprises!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Month of May had a rough start

This month certainly did not start too well. Woke up around 2.30 am on 2nd May of strange, banging sounds. When I got up and switched on lights they stopped.

A check outside revealed that burglars had been busy trying to pry a window open. Using our tools. A closer check showed that they had broke into both cars by smashing windows. Tore the CD-players out (and I mean tore, no nice job at all). Then broke into our toolshed and stole most of our tools and a mountainbike.

Not fun at all and the extra costs in form of new windows for the cars and so on we certainly could have been without. Now to add salt to injury it turns out that a neighbour's gardener actually SAW the whole thing and did nothing. He saw 4 men chase the dog away and break into toolshed and cars and did - nothing. "Thought it was the owners as it was so early in the night". Now anyone pleaese tell me why I would enlist help of 3 persons to break into my own cars????

I don't know if the guy is honestly so damned stupid or if he just did not want to get involved. But it makes me even more angry to know that the whole thing was being watched and could have been stopped or at least interfered with.