My Gabon Experience – Part 6
I was going to write a long prologue before getting to the punch line of this story, but to be honest I’m just too tired to even bother. I will no longer be living the Loango National Park Gabon and no longer trying to develop tourism at Loango Lodge or any other lodge for that matter. It’s all come to a grinding halt.
I gave up everything to take on this new adventure. I closed my irrigation business of 6 years; I found my staff members’ new jobs and sold my car. I left my family in tears and the distance between us was extremely difficult. So instead of a long boring tale, below is the short version of the story explaining why I have been re-united earlier than expected with my family, albeit jobless and penniless.
I will add some random photos during this blog of my last few days in The Last Eden.
A few weeks ago I began to realise that the ANPN were full of empty promises. It’s sad to think that I was specifically brought in to help GWC with the support of ANPN to try and boost tourism in the country and at the same time train all staff and put in processes and procedures and stock controls at Loango Lodge so we could use this as a solid grounding for when we did start expanding to have the basics in place already, ensuring we could start providing a five-star service in a very rustic, yet beautiful environment.
Unfortunately the staff at Loango were quite a different bunch. They’re all from the local village (which I am led to believe is completely different from the rest of the Gabonese) and not really ready to embrace the changes that I brought to the work place. Some of them were really amazing and others, well they despised me for sure. They didn’t want to work harder and smarter. They enjoyed the easy life of the last 10 plus years, where doing the bare minimum to get by suited them well and their guest empathy is minimal. Matthieu has his work cut out for him.
Basically what happened is that Jannie was promised by the ANPN to get paid his salary. For four months they never paid him and I honestly don’t believe they ever will. Yet they have pressured him into developing new properties in different national parks, offering him not only his salary but also financial assistance to get setup. They have fallen flat on all their promises.
My salary was to be paid out of the profits of GWC, but because of the lack of funds supplied by the ANPN, Jannie has had to delve into those funds to pay for setting up the other camps/lodges as well as maintaining Loango. The Government also insisted that he start paying 18% VAT (which you never get back – it’s basically TAX) on his turnover. So with these financial issues that Jannie was facing I was the first to get chopped.
Gabon wildlife Camps wasn’t able to pay me except for the 22 days I worked in July (which the bank in Gabon hijacked for 34 days – YES!!- A truly unbelievable corrupt story I am too exhausted to mention again) and 1 week of August. I was informed via email, that I wouldn’t be paid for 3 more months which in all reality would probably only be after 6 months. I honestly didn’t believe even that would be possible, let alone all the back-pay that would be owing to me.
I decided I will not work for free so far away from my family and decided to leave immediately. Jannie and I have parted on good terms and I do believe him when he says he will pay me what he owes me when he can. Unfortunately he is using his own savings to keep the business afloat and am not sure when I will get the 2 months salary owing to me. I wait in anticipation.
It’s an amazingly beautiful country with spectacular scenery and wildlife. Loango Lodge and soon to be Pongara Lodge are in beautiful settings that need to be visited and appreciated by all who are adventurous enough to visit.
Jannie, Matthieu and Grace (The gem of a lady in Libreville) run a really great operation in a difficult environment. They provide guests with a memorable once in a lifetime experience from the minute they are met at the airport, transferred to and from their accommodation and sent on all their planned activities at the lodges and dropped off again. Anybody visiting Gabon, would be well impressed with their dedication and the experience they offer.
I wish Jannie, Mathieu and Grace all the best in their efforts to grow Gabon wildlife Camps and I really hope that the ANPN come to the party and help them out like they’ve promised. Also that might help me getting paid sooner hmm….
One of the many wonderful adventures that I managed to experience was a trip to an area where the Western Lowland Gorillas have been habituated. They are still very wild but they tolerate humans , but only in controlled groups of 4 people. I was blown away and it is a must do activity if you’re ever in Gabon. Below are a few pics I managed to take.
As for me and my future you may ask? I’ve decided to keep my dreaming time to coincide only within my hours of sleep and no longer during the day. Too many times I have chased my dreams for adventure and sometimes even for financial gain. However every time I have only come out with memories – some good, some awful – which is actually the whole point, but the stress of being worse off financially than when I started, is the killer
Saying that, I am actually quite happy to start my new adventure – I’ve decided to be a “stay at home dad and husband” – no more jobs or new businesses for me right now. My little kiddies need me and they need my time, quality time and I am happy to provide that.
I will be helping Tiff out with all her background work, so that she can convert more sales as a travel planner. She has struggled to commit to everything with dedication since I’ve been gone, as she has been stretched too thin. She is the only bread winner now, so I need to ensure that she can convert more enquiries and keep bringing in the bucks.
I must say I think the commuting (time) to 2 different schools, there and back each day, is the only thing that I am dreading. Overall I am looking forward to spending time at home with the family and providing them with some delicious meals that I have craved over the last 3 months
I have a few more stories to tell about Loango and Gabon in general, but for another time. I hope you enjoyed my series of stories in Gabon. I did go home to be a stay at home dad and husband and I loved it, absolutely loved it. Then Covid hit and now I am telling my stories, helping people to get out there, get out of their comfort zones and find the joy in being Wild and Free.
If you are reading ths article/story about Gabon as your first, then I urge you to please start at the beginning – HERE!
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If you have any questions about my time in Gabon or anything you want to know about travelling in Gabon, then please leave a comment in the section below, thanks.