I dislike this place - update

I'm feeling a little more...restricted than I'd like to lately. It's a bunch of things that have been adding up and this week, especially yesterday and today, it's kind of getting to me. First, I need to make it clear that as far as expatriate "compounds" I think we have it pretty good. There's a pool (and another one in the village down the road), a bar, a cafeteria, and a little store. BUT, Louis and I live in the equivalent of a small hotel room. We have a second small hotel room - right next to this hotel room - and we've asked a thousand times to PAY OURSELVES to knock down the small entry-way wall in between so we could have like....some normalcy (this room is not for two people), but for a number of reasons, that never happened and we aren't able to. It's something I'm going to try to look into again in the new year.

Our rooms and shared common area are pretty gross. They are "cleaned" daily, but not actually cleaned. A dirty broom is pushed around, and should you ever move a piece of furniture, you'll see a mass accumulation of dirt, etc. An extremely dirty mopped adds another layer of grossness. Some days we come home and can't figure out what smells so bad, and just recently we figured out that it was the floors.

The person is charge of entire area is tackling about a thousand and a half other things (and is on holiday at this very moment), so I sent him a note with a couple of disgusting pictures, and until then, I will be doing all of the mopping. I spent 1.25 hours cleaning the bathroom floor this morning. I don't mind cleaning it, but I don't like having these "housekeepers" in my space. At all. I detest that they have master keys to my place and I detest that I can't keep anything of value laying around or EVEN IN THE SAFE (there have been a few incidents of theft. Which makes no sense because we have 24 hour guards...but by that very fact it makes perfect sense as they are local guards). All of my jewelry that isn't worn gets sent back to Canada. Anything AT ALL, be in clothing or something special, has been taken back to Canada.

Yep, we're lucky to have our laundry done for us, although I would SO LOVE if we could do our own laundry and again have control how clean things get. Sometimes things smell ok, other times not so much. Since this guy in charge-that's-on-vacation-right-now has been in charge, we have had like practically zero clothing destroyed, which is a plus, but I also know not to ever buy any clothing of any value. Old Navy discount shopping is where it's at. I have a couple pairs of expensive jeans that my mom brought me from Canada when we met up in China, and I can already see that I'm going to have to buy another pair to keep in Canada that stays un-wrecked.

Due to...a number of things, expatriates are no longer allowed to drive outside of the plant area. Before, Louis and I could go where we wanted to on a Sunday or after work, and now we are required to book a driver. We need to book the driver in advance, and if the driver is required for more than four hours for personal use, it has to be approved in advance, by your boss. There used to be kind of a pooled vehicle that I would share with my previous department, but it's become more of a hassle than anything and I would rather use the "Transport Service". Yesterday I booked a pedicure for today (Sunday), which will take about three hours. Nearly an hour to get there, an hour in the "salon" (have no idea what it looks like right now) and nearly an hour to get back (it's not far but it's a Sunday and the roads in town are pretty bumpy so everything takes awhile). I got a message back saying that because it's for personal reasons, I'm not allowed. I quoted the "4 hours" that was sent out in the new policy and after a few emails, it seems as if I'll be "allowed" to have a driver for about three hours. I know it's not the company's responsibility to pay someone for me to take me to get a pedicure, but I live here 75% of the time and having outside interests or outside activities is expected. If there was a reliable taxi company where I could pay for the transport - by all means I would. But there's not.

The food is hit and miss. We just got a new contractor taking over the camp, and with any transition, there are problems. But my demands are pretty simple: food that isn't revolting, peanut butter, and Crystal (like super cheap Perrier). The first demand...is about 80%. If the food is truly disgusting, I take the soup of the day, add some shredded chicken to it, some rice and some veggies. I'm happy with that. The peanut butter....well I'm not sure what happened, but now the PB that's here is...part PB part...lard I think. It's not even the same color as PB. And Crystal is what I drink at the bar when we meet up with friends (and I pay for) and it's been available for 3.25 years and now it's no longer stocked. I try to go into town every couple of weeks and buy my own, which I'm fine with as well.

So, while we live in a good camp, and I could easily live in much, much shittier places, I'm frustrated by all these restrictions. Sometimes I want to feel like I have a sort of normal life, and sometimes I get too frustrated by our living arrangements. I know I'm not the only one and I know that I don't always feel this way, but this week, it's making me anxious and pissed off and frustrated.

I want to live in a room where no one has a key and where I don't have to worry that if I forget to put on my watch that it will be gone by the time I go for lunch to come back and get it. I don't want to live in a hotel room. I don't often go into town, but when I do, I don't want it to be met with all of these conditions and restrictions. I realize that the rules are in place for a reason, but right now I'm too annoyed to care.

[Updated a few hours later: The pedicure place was awesome and my driver was super nice. I just may have found a place where I can have an actual massage. But for sure get a good pedicure. It was awesome.]


  1. Nicole, it's a very tough, restrictive life your living for the last 3 1/2 years. I'm always impressed that you guys make such a good job of it. Hang in there kiddo. See you soon. Love G&G xxoo


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