Sunday, June 27, 2010

Most Expensive Cities to Live In 2010, Libreville # 13

According to a recent survey by ECA International, which looks at the price of various items (rice, beer, lunch, etc.) compared to the US dollar, Libreville, Gabon comes in at #13; down a notch from 2009 when it was the 12th most expensive city to live in.

Interestingly, four of the top 20 most expensive cities are on the African continent:
# 3 Luanda, Angola
# 13 Libreville, Gabon
#17 Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
# 19 Abuja, Nigeria

For comparison, Tokyo is # 1, Paris is #19 and NYC # 29.  Think about all of the people on the contintent who can't afford $22 for lunch.

**as reported by Bloomberg/Businessweek

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rubber Stamp: My "Run-in" at the Airport Part 2

Thanks for coming back…here is the 2nd half of the story. If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

These posts are contributing to another blog carnival by Lonely Planet Blogsherpa’s.  The carnival is being hosted by GingerBeruit and her theme is Rubber Stamp – travelers’ stories of border crossings, passport nightmares, run-ins with the police, etc.  The carnival goes live June 21.

When I left off in Part 1, I had “run-in” to the airport in Gabon and then I was being hassled by some punks in the parking lot.
 I was nervous and I was concentrating on avoiding further hassle.  There is no one around and now I’m going to have to stop and deal with the toll gate.

Part 2
 I stepped on the gas as I made a quick left hand turn towards the gate…the next thing I know, I am not in control.  It is like a slow motion dream.  I can hear the rev of the engine and the squeal of tires.  There is a metal scrunching sound and I must have hit the brakes.  When I come out of the dream, the front of the car is now up on top of those metal poles that stick out of the ground, several feet in the air.  Pointing into the night sky.  I thought I was screwed before, now I am totally f*&$’d.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rubber Stamp: My "Run-in" at the Airport in Gabon

This post is part of another blog carnival, several stories contributed by the Lonely Planet Blogsherpa’s. The carnival is being hosted this time by GingerBeruit and her theme is Rubber Stamp – travelers’ stories of border crossings, passport nightmares, run-ins with the police...the carnival goes live June 21.

My inclusion describes several “run-ins” that I had during my recent departure from Gabon…at the airport, with some punks, the local police, our US security officer…I hope you enjoy.

I was leaving Africa with a lot of luggage.  Similar to other 3rd world countries, the Airport in Libreville, Gabon, on the west coast of Africa, leaves a lot to be desired.  I lived close to the airport, so I figured I’d literally “run-in” early, when there weren’t any flights, check all of the luggage and then come back to the house for a quick shower and dinner before my long journey.  Nice plan.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC

Yesterday was one of many parades in NYC honoring the diversity and cultural heritage of the city.  For the many international readers, I didn’t have a camera, so you will have to visualize to get a better perspective. 

They say there were two million people in attendance along the Fifth avenue route, most of who were of Puerto Rican decent.  That’s a lot of Puerto Ricans.  NYC has a larger population than San Juan.

On Saturday, before the parade, I was riding the subway into Brooklyn to meet friends for dinner.  About half of the riders in my subway car were wearing the colors of the Puerto Rican flag.  Everyone was celebrating their heritage and preparing for the upcoming parade.  Riders were decked out in white, red and blue t-shirts, hats, necklaces, bracelets, I even saw sneakers with little flags sewn onto the part that sticks out above the laces.  One lady had her baby’s stroller outfitted with Puerto Rican flags. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My African Adventure

This week I am guest posting for Anja Mutic at Ever the Nomad.  Anja is a published travel writer and video host for Lonely Planet, Travel & Leisure, Rough Guides, Time Out, etc.  Every Friday she hosts a guestpost from a different blogger.  This week it's me and my African adventure, One Year in Gabon, please click the link to visit and read my post.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Equatorial Africa, France and Oil

It's been too long since I posted.  I wanted to bring you back in with a little history.

Gabon is the third largest provider of oil in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Libreville, the capital, was once the capital of the French Congo, which covered the entire mid section of the African continent 100 years ago.  Although now independent, Gabon still has a long-standing relationship with France.

Due to the oil, and every other natural resource that the country has been eating through (timber, gas, manganese, iron, gold, etc.), Gabon is considered one of the wealthiest countries on the continent.  The former President, Omar Bongo, who ruled the country for 42 years, was considered one of the wealthiest men in the world before his death in 2009.  Outside of 33+ luxury properties in France, and another $100+ million in banks in the US, his wealth has never really been accounted for.  He was a genius at lining pockets, and not just his own.  More than fifty political ministries were assigned to family and friends, as well as political opponents and rival ethnic tribes; obviously all became allies.  French oil and timber companies held preferential status to development claims, in return for political and military protection from France, as well as an outlay of cash.  This connection with French political power, essentially locked in his presidency for the long term.  A purported quote from the former President reads as follows: ”Gabon without France is like a car without a driver, France without Gabon is like a car without fuel.”