Friday, November 24, 2006

A Petroleum Thanksgiving (and a little more info…)

First, I wanted to just clarify a little more on the CDA project. I meant to include a link to the website but forgot, so here it is. They don’t have any of the reports up (they are just getting starting on the project) but they give a description of their institutional philosophy and approach to collaborative learning. When all the “conversations” are analyzed and put into reports, CDA will create a larger document- likely a book- and make it available to aid agencies, organizations, etc.

Secondly, happy belated Thanksgiving (to those who celebrate it)! Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite American holiday. I really enjoy its spirit of appreciation- and, of course, pumpkin pie. I’ve only spent one Thanksgiving with my family since I was 18, so I’ve always been away from home on the holiday. However, I’ve always been fortunate enough to spend it with friends and adoptive families where ever I’ve been. Some of my best Thanksgiving memories are from the Peace Corps, when 50 or so Volunteers descended upon La Esperanza to have a huge turkey dinner at the volunteer house. Honduran friends would show up, and soon 100 people would be eating turkey and sweet potato pie.

Angola was no different. I had hoped to have a similar big dinner with Angolan colleagues and friends, but most of my American coworkers are away for work. Luckily I was invited to Chris and Diane’s house. Chris works for a company that builds oil platforms way out, and Diane is his wife. Like a lot of oil industry wives, she is not allowed to work in the country so spends a lot of time doing volunteer work and being, as Diane describes it, “desperate housewives.” Their house is like having a bit of the US in Lobito- one of the advantages of working for a company that will pay to have your entire house shipped from post to post. Diane cooked a fabulous meal, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes and homemade biscuits. She had name plates! And individual menus!

There were other Americans at the dinner, too. One Chevron employee from Katy, TX was there and an insurance inspector from NE Louisiana. It was interesting to step into the world of the oil industry. When the men started talking shop, it was as if they were speaking a different language! The man from NE Louisiana mysteriously said that he used to do off-shore work until he was hospitalized. He then mentioned off-handedly, “And then I was held hostage in Nigeria, so I decided to move into the insurance part.” Hmm. Then the Chevron guy said, “Oh we’ve all been held hostage.” A different world than mine!

(Picture: sunrise from my porch! Yes, I am usually up to see the sunrise, believe it or not.)

1 comment:

sir_chancelot said...

Glad you are getting to see how the other half lives. How did you hook up with them? I am sure their stories are fascinating. I have spoken to oil platform engineers before, and the mechanics behind those operation are amazing. Being held hodtage in Nigeria sounds less fun.