Thursday, June 3, 2010

Trip to Pointe Noire

We had a three day weekend a couple of weeks ago, and I took it as an opportunity to get out of Brazzaville and finally visit Pointe Noire.  The city is the economic capital of the country given the large oil industry footprint and shipping and fishing activites.  This results in parts of the city (near the beach) feeling somewhat European with very nice hotels and restuarants that cater to the oil-related expat community, while vast the remainder of the city is expectedly undeveloped and dilapidated.


Here is the headquarters for ENI, the Italian O&G company, that is the largest player in Pointe Noire.
My taking of the above photo caught the attention of two police officers across the street who came over to see what I was up to.   Their subsequent discovery that I had multiple memory cards and a work, not tourist, visa led to me getting loaded into a van and hauled off to the police stationing for questioning.  They wanted to go through all my pictures to see what I had taken pictures of and were insistent that because I didn't have a toursit visa I wasn't allowed to take pictures in the country.  As these things usually go, I just argued back and forth with them about whether the law I had supposedly broken was actually a law at all until they eventual grew tired of me and allowed me to leave if I would pay a "fine" to reflect my admission of my mistake.  They let me set the amount, so $4 later I was back on my way to the airport.

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