Sunday, 6 September 2009

I'm Back!

After some sad farewells to my Mom and Dad at Cape Town International Airport, I boarded my domestic flight to Johannesburg last Wednesday and then bright and early the next day flew out to Cotonou, Benin, and the M/V Africa Mercy. My travels went well and all my baggage made it through! My friends Paul and Tim (both who I knew from 2008) met me at the airport and drove me through to the ship. We arrived at the ship at a little before 16h00 on Thursday. However, my timing wasn't great as we had to wait on the dock for a while due to the traditional Thursday afternoon fire drill.

Being back is strange. In many respects it feels as if I've never left. Many of my good friends from the 2008 Liberia Field Service are still here (and a group of them made a really nice big card that they put on my door to welcome me back - thanks guys!) and all of my Gateway friends are here too. But the major difference is of course the country. Benin is a far cry from Liberia. The port is busy (right now I counted over five ships at anchor waiting to come into dock) and there are many ships currently docked. There is even a port control building fitted with radar installation (like at Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town) and a vibrant, colourful fishing harbour within the port. One of the fishing boats was even flying the South African flag! A lighthouse a short distance away warns ships of the hazards of venturing too close to the shore. In the city, most of the big roads are tarred or paved and there are even traffic lights. There seems to be some prosperity here - such as modern hotels and resorts and many big (privately-owned) SUV vehicles. But there is certainly much poverty and desperation too.

I start work tomorrow in the position of Team Leader for Reception. I will be working normal day job hours and will be there to oversee the smooth functioning of the department and to support the Reception team. I'm really thankful that I am back here on the Mercy Ship and am looking forward to getting back to work!

Here are some more photos from my travels to Benin and a few photos of the port and the ship.

With Mom at Cape Town International Airport.

With Dad at Cape Town International Airport.

First sight of Benin as my Inter Air flight from Johannesburg is on final approach.

Cotonou from the air.

Paul and Tim who met me at the airport.

The M/V Africa Mercy docked in Cotonou, Benin.

The fishing village within the port.

Note the green boat at left flying a large SA flag!

Mercy Ships vehicles on the dock.

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