The Final Chapter

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Feb 20, 2014

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Flag of Ghana  , Eastern Region,
Saturday, February 1, 2014

Like any good story, there will be an encore and that will be my Japan break, but this is the final entry on Ghana. I'm not one to dwell on the past and the reason I kept this blog is so that I don’t have to recount all the good/bad times, but rather look at all the text I have typed over the past 3 years and know that this has been the adventure of my life to date. There are not many who are given opportunities like I have had – working overseas, 1st time Manager, travelling to all the top destinations in the world, turning 30, increasing my financial wealth. But I don’t view this as a gift. Achieving this goal was my own doing through hard work and playing a good game, not a gift. There were bumps along the way when I didn’t get along with the people I worked with, got tired and frustrated with the roster at week 5, missed out on home events. But with time I believe these memories will fade into the background as I focus on letting the positive events have the lasting impact.

This rotation started at a time when most people were winding down ahead of "the Christmas" as the Ghanaians phrase it. Every day was a slow exodus of workers heading out on break or leave. I was always rostered to work this Christmas and had last off so no hard feelings on my behalf, but good on those who could adjust their roster to take it off. The office was very quiet and therefore productive for me – apart from the irritating rattle of my office air con and light due to the mills argh. I was able to knock off on time or early and go jogging in the afternoons until my shoes gave out. The company had made some deep cuts to the normal Christmas program – the Christmas party was replaced with a pathetic lunch, their annual hamper was halved, and at the end of Nov 240 redundancies had hit the Region. So the mood was not celebratory or festive. Instead there were threats of strikes, people wearing red arm-bands, and boycotts of the Christmas lunch party. There is a general lack of appreciation of how severe the low gold price is affecting the company and it is quite self-centred that people would threat a strike over a hamper when people had lost their jobs a week prior. But I do think it was too much at one moment and could have been handled better by the company management. 

I was fortunate to be able to take both Christmas and Boxing Day off work. It was quiet though and although we had a nice turkey lunch not many people were in the mood to socialise. NYE was a similar thing but a few came to the bar but left around 930pm. Only 3 of us made it to midnight. But it was fun. There has been a trend of people buying Jagermiester on their return to site and I’ve never drunk it other than jager bombs, but it has slowly came around to me. The Process guys have set up their own gazebo thing down the back of camp and that is a good break from the usual wet mess bar experience. In fact, Australia Day was a highlight of my social experience here because it was out of the ordinary – a room party with playstation, music, bbq and people that have a fun attitude without referencing back to the “good old days” or repeating the same conversations I have heard 5+ times previously. Along with a family skype call, it made for a really good Oz Day 2014, which was great because it is my favourite holiday.

Oz Day kicked off my final week in Ghana. It was my 7th week on site as I was doing extra time at the request of my boss who wanted me to finish end of month. Ok by me so long as I got extra break days in lieu and also because it aligned with my Japan trip. It has been a relatively easy rotation but still the continuity of being here for 7 weeks is tiring in itself, but I was upbeat knowing that THIS WAS IT. I had started my farewell parties a week early as some people were heading out on break and it was the last time they would see me. Then there was a combo party Saturday before Australia Day for me and the Project Director who was also finishing up this week. I wasn’t in the mood to party as wanted to save myself for Aust Day but it was good nonetheless. Speeches, good food and I got out before things turned messy. My Department held a farewell party for me Wednesday night at the new hotel in town. It was funny because I think it was scheduled that night to align with the Ghana v Nigeria soccer match and give the Dept a chance to unite with free food, drinks, tv and watch the game. My moment was second fiddle but that was ok because I was dreading an over attention of focus on me and if they would dress me up in a traditional Chief outfit. There is a tradition of a monotony of speeches to bid you farewell, forced dancing and the party opened and closed with a prayer. First party I’ve attended with a timed agenda. Everyone had fun and I enjoyed it much more than expected with a lot of kind comments and heartfelt thanks. I had Thursday night to finalise my packing. I wasn’t worried about my weight allowance, but moreso the amount of bags. With business class and silver status, I was allowed 52 kg all up over 2 bags. In the end I used 3 bags for 48 kg, plus another 3 carry-on bags that weigh quite a bit. Plus I sent a box of office documents via post and that prob weighed 7-10 kg. Plus I gifted a fair amount of stuff that I wouldn’t need at home. I knew I accumulated a lot of stuff over 3 years, but when you pack it all up it is surprising.

Friday 31 January was my final day on site. I was well prepped for this moment. I had been handing over work or finalising it for the last 2 weeks. My office was largely boxed up. My farewell email was drafted 3 weeks ago. Really I had stayed on a few months longer than I expected or was required by my job. So I was well ready to finish up. I sent out a note to the key people (expats) that I had enjoyed socialising with over the years and told them I was ahead of packing schedule and would be making my final appearance at the wet mess that night where I would supply my left over scotch supplies and they could enjoy my company one final time. It was well received and we had a blast. It was relaxed, lots of fun, and no speeches other than the odd drunk toast where the Chief Mining Engineer said “Ross, you are my hero” – I have it on video too! I knew I would pay for the final final farewell the next day as I bussed out of site for the final time. But it was worth it. One of the guys even came to help me take my bags to the bus and another called me to make sure I hadn’t missed my alarm. Damn, they were working hard to make me miss them and it was working!

One of my staff met me at the guest house in Accra. He wanted me to meet his family before I left. He was married two years ago and had a baby 3 months ago. Very proud and wanted to show them off to me. A nice moment and it is always the way that these personable moments happen towards the end. My boss also came to visit. But he arrived at the time I said was the time I would be picked up for the airport. Typical. So it was a quick goodbye and that suited me. He has been the toughest person I have ever worked with and it surprised me that he would come to say a personal goodbye outside of work. But you cannot predict the behaviour of a psychotic.

And there you have it. The conclusion of my first international assignment. The pinnacle of my career exactly 10 years after I graduated university. A decade of professional work. Ironically, a clock watch that was given to me during my first year with my company smashed and broke this rotation. An ominous sign? Who knows. But I still do not have confirmation that I will be staying with my company beyond this Project. There are no budgeted vacancies out there. I’m on the payroll to 21 Feb and unless something is offered before then, it is a new beginning for my career. I’m ok with that. It has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks talking through options and job opportunities. All I care about right now though is getting home to drop my belongings and then getting on a flight to Japan Tuesday afternoon for my ski break with good friends for rest and relaxation. My mind still thinks I will head back to Ghana after that break and it won’t sink in til then that I have a new goal to set myself. 
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MG on

A good final Ghana blog :) Congrats on this accomplishment! Looking forward to reading all about the next one.

travellingross on

Thanks MG!

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