Awoke at 6am, eager and excited to get going today even if I did have that early morning sickly feeling. I zipped up my backpack and marvelled at how light it felt…
Oh, hang on…
Where are my clothes?
Oh, for the love of God…………….
I search the hotel room at the Tropicana (where the drinks aren’t free) but they were nowhere to be found. I asked at reception and was led to a grotty room around the back where I found my t-shirts sitting in a bucket, sopping wet.
WHY OH WHY????????
Did I request a laundry service? Did I leave my clothes out with a note saying ‘please wash’? No. The idiotic maid just took my stuff (most of which was clean and didn’t require cleaning anyhoo) and threw it in a bucket of cold water for the night.
They had a dryer, so I put in my clothes and tried to at least get them a little dry before I went and spent 24 hours on a boat. After 10 minutes I took them out and they were just as wet, just a little warmer than they had been before.
Then, as I was grumpily stuffing them in a plastic bag, the hotel guy says he wants me to pay for the ‘laundry service’. Crikey, it takes quite a lot to really piss me off, but if you want to give it a go, why not steal my clothes, throw them in a bucket of cold water, DON’T EVEN GET THEM CLEAN and then ask for money for your hard labour. At 6.30 in the morning.
Yep, that should do it.
I told the guy he was crazy and stormed out.
I got to the port at 7am. Told I wasn’t allowed to enter until 7.30am. I hung around and when I eventually got in I was told that the boat would leave at 9am, so headed to the Supermarket over the road, waited for it to open (at 8:40am) ran in and used the ATM (been told there are none in Sao Tome) ran back to the dock, sat there and waited in the stinky quayside for another 2 hours reading Sherlock Holmes (His Last Bow, if you’re interested) before being told that the boat won’t be leaving for a few more hours.
I headed to the café at the dock entrance, did a little work, twiddled my thumbs, checked out b3ta.com and had a giggle at the Sausage Picture Competition. Heading back to the dock after lunch I was then told the boat won’t leave until tomorrow.
Then they said Monday.
Keep saying it Graham: In Africa, time is not money, time is not money, time is not money.
I had as little breakdown which involved a mini-impression of Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes. Then I spoke to the shipping agent (who looks the spit of the chap with the metal claw hands in To Live and Let Die) and he assured me that the boat would leave tomorrow.
I trust him as far as I can spit.
What are we waiting for? The boat is loaded.
We’re waiting on 600 gas canisters.
Okay, I will pay the difference and you can pick them up on the next run – the supplier is obviously in no hurry.
Because THIS IS AFRICA GRAHAM THIS IS AFRICA AND THERE IS NO SIMPLE SOLUTION TO ANYTHING.
Fuming, I returned to the café. I can’t go back to Club Trop, not after this morning’s little spat, and anyway it’s an extortionate €25 a night for a thin sponge of a mattress and a cold shower. There’s no couchsurfers here at the moment (all sensibly scarpered because of the election next week, and nine times out of ten: election + Africa = mayhem and death).
I tried to ring Alex, but his phone was dead. What to do what to do what to do? Then my salvation – Alex emailed me and told me to come meet him at this hippy commune tribe place he’s checking out for his television show.
Hippies? Commune? I stuffed my ‘Nixon Was Right’ t-shirt in the bin and headed over there as fast as my legs would allow. They picked me up in what I can only describe as a Mystery Machine, complete with half a BIN BAG of Shaggy’s Delight. Half a bin bag! Zoiks, Scoob! There I met a bunch of locals, the French Keith Richards who runs the joint, an ex-heroin user from New York (saved by the Bwitie) and a guy from Chicago with a wonderfully dark sense of humour called Justin.
Spent the night chilling out with my new-found friends, stuffed my face with tasty food and set myself up on a hammock for the night. Ah, hammocks – the second greatest invention known to man.