feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole (not)
first thing to point out about Ishmaelia – it’s not really Ishmaelia – names have been changed to protect the innocent. I can confirm it is a small, French-speaking country in West Africa, that may or may not have been immortalised by Evelyn Waugh.
First impressions? We arrived in the evening after a long day of travel – Bristol – Heathrow – Paris CDG – Ishmaelia. The airport was a blur of dark faces, noise and bustle. The car park and the area around the airport was crowded with people – all neatly dressed, immaculately clean and quietly chatting with each other.
The hotel was fine – I didn’t expect the Ritz-Carlton, and what we got would have stood up well against the All Seasons Karratha or Kununurra.
Some interesting quirks of the accommodation:
- The lifts did not like to go up. Pushing the up button either did nothing, or sent the lift sailing gently downward to the ground floor. I kept expecting a lugubrious voice to intone “May I ask you if you’ve considered all the possibilities that down might offer you?”
- The lift lobby was not air-conditioned – you would go from your nice cool room on the way to a meeting room, and would be met with a warm wave of tropical heat. However, the resident praying mantis seemed to enjoy it.
- Brushing my teeth with Perrier – not nearly as luxurious as it sounds…
- The food was surprisingly excellent – classy French cuisine and everything very fresh. However next trip I will take Vegemite, cliched though it is.
The last night we were there there was a dinner with the cream of local society – I met several ambassadors, the chief of the port, and I believe the head of the navy and several politicians were also there. Spent most of the evening practising my limited French and trying not to make a fool of myself.
I tested my personal theory that you have a very good chance of avoiding tummy upsets and adapting to the local food if you eat lots of yoghurt. 2nd day back in Bristol and still healthy, so I think it worked.
We spent most of our 3 days there in workshops, so I only have a few hurried photographs from out a car window. We did get a tour of the port, and watched ore cars being unloaded and ships being loaded.
Return trip left on time at 23:30 – I am told this is not normal. At least Air France have good food and service. One of these days I will do a rating of the various forms of international business class.
Arrived back in Bristol late morning (see the above itinerary, just in reverse) with about an hour’s sleep behind me to a cold and frosty morning. Made an executive decision that the office was beyond my powers and worked from home. Climbed the Mount Everest of relocation and successfully opened a bank account!
This weekend’s agenda, seeing my time in Bristol is short – Isambard Kingdon Brunel and what he built…