“Dash Me” A Calendar year in the Daily life of a Cajun Boy Working in Nigeria, West Africa!


I was performing as a mechanic at Hyster Forklift in New Orleans, La. and a pal of my boss “Mr Pat Horn”arrived by to see him as he was on depart from doing the job offshore (largely) and onshore in Nigeria, West Africa. His identify was “Deano Pablo Vincent Martini”. He was a character to say the least. He experienced a heavy Italian accent, was small and stocky and he came to the United states of america when his submarine was captured when it surfaced in the Gulf Of Mexico and was attempting to invest in gasoline from a shrimp boat. Martini met his wife at Camp Plauche Prison when she arrived to produce letters residence often to Italy for him. He requested my manager “Pat” if he understood of anyone intrigued in likely to function on a Derrick Barge #11 primarily offshore in Nigeria, West Africa.

I was single and in my early 20’so I claimed indeed! The enterprise that I labored for was called “Oceanic Contractors” on the doorway of the making located in downtown New Orleans, but the enterprise identify I signed up with was identified as “J Ray McDermott”. They are a hugh, beautifully run company globally. I experienced to go get an substantial physical locally, a sequence of unpleasant pictures for my new international medical record that went alongside with my passport. The nurse reported: “acquire your weight off of this leg” my still left, and she stuck a huge needle in my rear, then she said “take your body weight off the other leg”and she trapped it in my other cheek and gave me the other 50 percent! It was a “Gamma Globulin” shot. Person was I glad that was over! They also gave me some tablets that I had to consider day to day for a month prior to I left to stop me from catching Malaria. I experienced to just take a capsule day to day when I was more than there from a large capsule canister situated in the galley where by we ate meals and we had to consider them when we returned dwelling for 3 weeks much too.

It took about 7 weeks to get the flight to Nigeria, they had a military services coup and killed the chief of the nation around there. We flew to Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris, France very first and I scheduled a two day layover to see the city. It was a fancy airport, they had these huge tubes that shuttled persons in quite a few diverse directions. I went to the Meridian Lodge in Paris, at the front desk I identified a taxi driver that spoke a tiny English, and the girl at the desk told him a record of all the destinations that I required to see in French! We invested half a day driving all around to see all of the sights, and I ended up at the Eiffel Tower. I chose to walk up all of the winding stairs to the massive deck in which you could see almost everything for miles all over. It was great fun! The upcoming working day I was strolling all around a mall around the hotel and I bought some true “French Fries” at a McDonalds! Later, I ran into a blond headed girl walking all over the mall, her title was “Stephanie”, I started out chatting to her and she was a prostitute!! She took me to a minimal lodge with a French Maid that worked a person of individuals uncovered steel cage elevators that took us upstairs to our space. The room has these huge pink lips on the wall and a mattress shaped like a heart. They experienced a B-day, and a toilet, we both washed up and you can envision the relaxation.

The future day I caught the flight that took off for Nigeria, we had to land in Accra, Ghana, West Africa and hold out until daylight to just take off yet again and land in Nigeria. The airport was in close proximity to Lagos, Nigeria. It was a mess, just after receiving off the aircraft everybody experienced to run for the Air Nigeria flight! Then, I acquired fortunate and caught a Widgeon Airplane for McDermott that took off from land, then was likely to land in the river around the yard in Warri, Nigeria. It experienced pontoons and it landed in the drinking water at the Warri River at the J Ray McDermott garden. They took me to a lodge, it was stunning! They experienced a motel with a rack of skeleton keys for all of the rooms, they have been all the similar! The watch out the window was a huge pile of trash in the center lawn. When it obtained dim, all of the power in the spot went out, I located out why they experienced a candle in a bottle in the home with matches! That night time, I took the mattress off the mattress and set it in the foyer in opposition to the door to the room and slept on it. Two times that evening someone tried to steal all of my things in the home but I was sleeping on the mattress, they woke me up and I punched the door hard and they ran away. Glad the doorways opened up to the within!

The initial time I went to the Derrick Barge (DB11), I got on a tug boat called the “Gulf Wind” with a captain named “Captain Wally Hebert”. It had just occur more than from the United States, and on the way to the Barge offshore around the state of Angola, (employed to be identified as the Belgian Congo”. We got fired upon throughout the bow of the tug, and were being stopped by a Russian gunboat, with a Cuban crew! They boarded the vessel and Captain Wally experienced a 22 caliber pistol and they took it and left. I was seasick as a dog, stayed in my bunk and could not hold out to get off! I bought on Derrick Barge 11 (DB11), it was a aid or so I imagined, I experienced to go up and down 14 flights of stairs all day unloading the applications that were despatched out on the tug. We were doing work 18 hrs a working day and it was really really hard. We finished laying the pipeline to the shore and we took off likely north and then we listened to that anyone blew up the refinery! Operating in these third globe bathrooms something can transpire!

A person day the Nationals (Regional Employees) all bought on the tug boat the Gulf Wind and they mutinied! They acquired tired of the Camp Manager (a Lebanese dude) serving them sacks of “Gary” (the food stuff the locals consume) being entire of Weevils. They commandeered the vessel back to the dock in Nigeria! They arrived again to function after it was straightened out times later. I don’t forget likely out with the tug boat “Gulf Wind” to pick up barges of the pipe we laid and acquiring to convey a big 12 volt battery and resources with me in scenario I need them to start the anchor winch and get the anchor up. I rode on the front of the barge viewing the Dolphins in the crystal obvious blue h2o as they played as we moved alongside! Most of the barges had hydraulic starters although. Occasionally the batteries would be absent, yep, another person paddled all the way out there in their dugout to steal the batteries so that they could have lights in their village hut!

There was a medic on DB11, he experienced a compact transportable residence up beneath the heliport. He had large bottles of prescription medications from abroad, England typically. We utilized to get: “Cement capsules” to plug you up and “Dynamite capsules” to get you going again! The camp boss and the food was low-priced and inferior! They had the hairs continue to on the slices of bacon! It was practically nothing like doing work offshore in the Gulf Of Mexico, they experienced wonderful meals there! A person that I labored with “Jerry” was hooked on “Darvon” pain capsules. He had hundreds of them! Anything that was incorrect with you he would say: “You want some Darvon” he was usually out of it.

We went back to the McDermott property in Nigeria for 2 months to improve the swing equipment in the Gantry Crane from steam driven, to electric driven. There were a number of places where we applied to go consume near Warri, a single was a place that served tasty Escargot, I under no circumstances assumed that I would take pleasure in snails, but they were being definitely delicious! Another time, we ended up coming back again to the property and they had a massive gathering of individuals all going for walks to this place where they executed folks. The policeman explained: “You have never viewed an Execution?” We said no and he took out his billy club and defeat all of the individuals out of the way and took us correct up front to look at! He claimed no pics and we went alongside with that. They shot a guy and a lady that they tied to two huge poles with the Warri river in the history. They shot them both at the very same time. A person of them stole a enjoy, and the other 8 Naira (8 Naira was about 12 bucks at the time). Cash punishment is the name of the sport. It was unreal. I used to say:”Currently one more dollar, Tonight a further Naira”. A different time I was in a cab coming back again to the garden at evening, it was stopped by the police (they use camouflage clothing with AR15’s) I was arrested for murdering a guy at the beach front. I had $112.00 on me and that was what it cost me to get out of it! If a taxi driver received in a wreck, the police would consider him out of the motor vehicle an conquer him correct there on the location! These are the most crooked people today I have at any time noticed!

A different time, I went in a community bar with other engineers and when we sat down there ended up instantaneously 4-5 girls on us all with distinctive coloured wigs, blonds, redheads etc. They were all grabbing our trousers and trying to get us to go with them to a Lodge! Unreal! There was a whore residence situated right outside the house of the McDermott gate, it was termed “The Block Dwelling” It was always open up to people and there ended up a lot of girls there.

I went for a truck journey to this magnificent position to go swimming. There was me, a rigger and a welder. We lower up and split a contemporary pineapple on the ride there. All the although I was singing to myself:”Oops there goes a different rubber tree plant”! We ended up driving by way of rubber tree plantations! The river was a spring that flowed clean h2o that you could consume appropriate out of the ground and it flowed into a muddy river somewhere. We fulfilled the Chief who owned the land when we were there, a true good man, I took his photograph and I took many photographs of the area and some youthful locals paddled by in a tiny dugout. I have a picture of me paddling the small dugout with a piece of wood for a paddle in the crystal distinct spring drinking water!

When I was leaving Nigeria the initially time, there are guys at the airport the place they choose your luggage absent to the plane and the male in my line suggests: “Dash Me, Sprint Me” it signifies they needed a Naira idea or you would in no way see your luggage yet again! They say “Sprint Me” everywhere you go in Nigeria. Hense the title of this story. Soon after about 6 months I had to arrive household for a week and get my impacted knowledge tooth taken off, I did it in the dentist chair and male, was I glad when it was done! When we have been flying again overseas I built a listening product from a pen and a funnel shaped piece of paper so that I could listen to the flicks they have been participating in so that I did not have to shell out for the headphones. I just lifted the armrest up! When the jet landed an elderly Cajun Boat Captain sitting down subsequent to me mentioned: “Keep on there cuz, the shit is hitting the supporter”! The jet blew out a tire when we had been landing and the items of tire were being flying up around the window! The pilot leaned the airplane around and we landed Okay!

I caught the McDermott Widgeon in Lagos “The Capital Of Nigeria” to fly to an airstrip in the middle of nowhere, he dropped me off and said I will be back again in a couple of several hours, he had to refuel the aircraft and do a couple of other things at the McDermott yard in Warri, He under no circumstances arrived back! I observed out and saw the wrecked aircraft afterwards, when landing the aircraft in the Warri River he forgot to pump up the landing wheels that had been down and when the aircraft landed it right away flipped more than, crashed and sunk! No a single was killed! Thank God, he received banged up real lousy. The plane was ruined, he remaining me out in the bush, all I had to invest the night with was a sheet, a local experienced brought it to me, that was it. I fell asleep that night time and when I woke up the sheet experienced moved off my encounter, I was less than it when I went to slumber. My deal with was protected with all sorts of bites and whelps, from mosquitoes typically, and I know that is when I acquired Malaria!!!!! It by no means received to me until following I arrived property for very good, (a lot more on that later on) the subsequent working day a British “Bristow”chopper experienced picked me up to fly me offshore to a heliport close to DB11 where by a boat could pick me up and consider me to the Derrick Barge. When the Chopper took off the tail rotor couple of off and the Chopper created a gradual descending spiral into the Atlantic Ocean!!!! The pilot obtained out Ok, the Big Gantry Crane on DB11 picked up the pretty soaked Chopper and set it on the heliport for afterwards repairs I guess??

Soon after I finished my one particular year agreement, I flew to Brussels, in Belgium to decide up my reward check out on the way dwelling. An intriguing town! Just after I obtained property I fell in enjoy with a community girl and we ended up on Lakeshore Travel at evening in New Orleans and we had been creating out in my motor vehicle and that is when I obtained these awful chills, I was freezing and shaking, then I would get purple incredibly hot, perspiring profusely and I understood I experienced Malaria!!! It is not pleasurable. They set me in Mercy Healthcare facility and they introduced me 4 supplements to take at any time 2 hrs in a little white cup and I gave them the bottle of tablets when I checked in! Someone at the Clinic termed a lawyer and informed them about me I guess, simply because a lawyer referred to as me while I was sitting in the Hospital mattress! We sued McDermott less than the “Jones” Act. They gave me again the bottle of supplements when I still left the Medical center.

This whole story is Legitimate, and this 1 12 months agreement with J Ray McDermott was the most occasion filled, thrilling excursion I have ever been on! I seriously did love it immensely!!!

Robert P Bertaut Sr.

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