Theme: Welcome to Africa Country: Gabon Languages: French Unit of Currency: CFA Franc Locations: Libreville & Port Gentil Year: 2010 Bucket list: Visiting Africa for the first time
DO: LEARN FRENCH BEFORE COMING TO THE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT OF LIBREVILLE
- Entering a new world of a French speaking colony, where no one speaks English
- Running into a massive lit Christmas tree blocking my gate to catch a domestic flight to Port Gentil
DO: EXPERIENCE THE SMALL COASTAL CITY
- Meeting friendly locals, who have now become life-long mates
- Getting your hands on local currency
- Educating others about the culture
- Visiting the street venders
- Witnessing the beauty of nature
- Checking out my first pub, sports bar, disco tech, and restaurant all-in-1 building
- Hanging out until 0600 when the only beach club in town closes
- Watching a sunrise on the rocky beach
One of the most terrifying experiences was getting interrogated by the Gabon government (i.e. Port Gentil’s security clearance). When Kelsey and I arrived in Libreville, Gabon we were met by an Oil & Gas agent of Total who helped us check our baggage and lead us to our gate. I had to walk a few minutes around a gigantic Christmas tree in the middle of the walkway where we had to stand in the cue with a lot of people.
We took a puddle jumper and flew to Port Gentil, Gabon. As soon as I arrived at the airport I was stopped by an African security guard because my yellow fever certificate was not within the 10 days of arriving in their country (it was 6 days).
I was already approved with my Gabon visa, had successfully been stamped into the country in Gabon, so this should have not been a major issue. A very polite man smiling quickly turned his grin into a frownless expression glaring down at me. When he decided to grab my arm and quickly guided me through a dark lit alley way, I knew that this would be easy to get out of. My colleagues and good mate, Kels was stunned and did not know where I had gone.
As we approached a mosquito infested building, I was told to throw my luggage on the small bench outside his office. He let go of my arm so that I could put my bags down. Shortly after getting my bearings and observing where I was, he took my arm again and placed me into a small white chair in the corner of his office. Mosquitoes had begun to fill up the room and start biting me left and right. In the mist of all this, I was demanded to pay 300 euros to get my passport back. Meanwhile, the security guard decided to flip through my passport and pretend to write down sections of my passport into a yellow post it note that was on his desk.
A heavier set woman approached the room, and they both started speaking French very fast (too quick for me to understand). I was asked to provide another ID of myself, but with my lack of passport in my hand I refrained. Next thing I hear the agent outside yelling my name, so I answered him back and told him where I was. As soon as I get out the message, the woman shut the door. Fortunately, the agent heard me and tugged open the door. He stood there for a few minutes explaining that I am with him and working for Total.
This method did not seem to be going well, as they both sat there with their arms crossed and an expressionless look on their faces. The agent grew weary of attempting to be nice to get my passport back in my possession, so he reached around the desk and snatched it and the post it note out of the security guard’s hands. The agent glanced at me, and the next thing I knew we were sprinting down a dark alley with security guards screaming French obscenities behind us!
Finally, I found myself back at the airport, and a bus was waiting for me! I jumped in, and the agent proceeded to follow. The bus driver gunned it, and off we went! I looked back to see a very furious man and woman chasing the bus. Luckily for us, we did not have any stop lights on the way to the hotel! The positive outcome was that I did not get malaria and I safely made it to my hotel with my colleagues and Kels!