The Craziest Weekend of my Life!
Gouvernorat de Tunis Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
I have just had one of the craziest experiences in my life this past weekend. I work for a company that does global networks for multi-nationals and one of our customers is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has, as you might expect, embassies in pretty much every exotic location imaginable.
Now in order to be able to register important stuff like missing persons, terrorist suspects or 'inburgeringscursus' results at the ministry in The Hague, they have a satellite link at each of their embassies. You don't have to be a computer scientist to imagine that fragile broadcasting equipment is not always able to withstand temperatures of over 50 degrees, or fluctuating power supplies, which might happen in countries like, say, Tunisia.
And Tunisia also has an additional difficulty in that its government feels it knows best for its people, so access to internet and other media is heavily censored, so you can imagine they are not overly keen on allowing packages containing broadcast equipment to enter their country. The replacement units were sent by special diplomatic transport about 6 weeks ago, but it turned out one essential part was missing. The connector, which connects the coax cable to the LMB satellite head, was missing. Now anyone who has a satellite dish, or even anyone who has ever connected his TV using a coax cable, knows that the connector is not much more that two counter screwing rings between which the cable is clasped. A tiny piece of hardware which, believe it or not, cannot be bought anywhere in Tunisia.
But hey, as I just explained, broadcasting equipment is not very welcome in Tunisia, so after a month of investigating the DHL package which bore the words 'connectors for satellite LMB', Tunisian customs decided it was safest to return it to sender.
After six weeks of troubleshooting the problem was still nowhere near to being fixed, and all the time the connection was running on an overly expensive back-up line (which I am not going to disclose here, but you'd wish your salary was as much as this line costs per minute). The courier would be able to send the connectors again, using a personal transport, which is much less liable to customs checks, but they asked a whopping 3000 euros to do so, and would not be able to deliver it until the next Tuesday.
And with flight tickets to Tunisia currently being around 400 euros, it was quickly decided that sending someone from our own company to Tunis to deliver the screws was a far cheaper and faster option. Now what kind of idiot would want to fly to Tunis on a day's notice?
And so it came that after two days of heavy drinking and winning a football tournament at our annual staff event, I found myself seriously hung-over sitting on a flight to Tunis at 7 o'clock on Saturday morning...
Changing flights at Paris Charles de Gaulle went faster and smoother than I have ever experienced before (that is one nifty looking airport, by the way) and just after 12.30 I stepped into the bright, warm afternoon sun in Tunis.
I was greeted by the technical guy from the embassy who brought me to the embassy for the handover of the connectors (felt somewhat like a smuggler, I must admit) and we had a little chat and a nice cup of coffee (Dutch Senseo, of course, you won't find any embassy staff integrating into the country they are stationed in).
After this he dropped me off at my hotel, and I had 22 hours to entertain myself before my flight back to Amsterdam.