Travelblips

Travel blog by a global nomad

26 Aug

And the delays begin. Again

snowYesss… Its that time of the year. The time when I am stressing because I have been in a remote field camp for an extended period of time (nearly 7 weeks this time) and I want to get out. And I can’t… because the weather is marginally inclement, which in Russia translates as unflyable

Now, this might seem like petty grumbling… But imagine you work for several weeks straight, 12 hour days/7 days a week. You can psyche yourself up for that period of time, but once your time is up, you loose focus and interest in working 12 hour days – you just want to out and have a break – catch up on all the weekends you missed. It does weigh on you!

In my profession, long term planning has always been a bit troublesome, but it wasn’t so bad when I didn’t work in Russia as normally I escaped the field on my assigned day, even if it may have taken up to 3 days to get home… But here…. you can’t plan anything. Russia… land of the white nights… And if the plane can’t fly at exactly 9am in the morning, it is cancelled for the day. At least in Canada, another land of white nights, the planes will make an effort and be on standby for clearing weather throughout most of the day! I have flown out of Canadian field camps as late as 6.30pm at night.

Right now, I am only on Day 1 of the flight being cancelled watch. I watched in horrified fascination on Facebook last month when 2 people I know couldn’t fly out for over a week – and even had the horror of getting within 10 minutes of landing at a ‘commercial  airport’ (one must use that term ‘commerical airport’ loosely in Eastern Russia…) – and having to turn back – and wait several more days to leave. I have also had to wait several days to leave in the past – and of course its usually when you have an important rendezvous you thought you had factored in ample time to get out…

Of course, I am working for a different company this time… At least the last Russian company did make an effort every day to try and fly at 9am and sometimes we would be on standby up until midday before they would cancel. But this company is not so accommodating and tend to schedule days when they deem it convenient for them to fly, and if you can’t fly that day, will push it back to the next convenient date. Ok… I’ll make a lot of money twiddling my thumbs here… but surely there comes a time when it might be better to get people out?!

So this company shocked us all last night with an announcement a plane was going to fly today. Even more shocking since snow was forecast! Our second and potentially more significant snowfall than the light dusting we got 2 days ago. What better excuse could you have for a cancellation??? No, no they insisted… its end of field season time, we can justify a flight, we will absolutely possibly do our best to maybe to get  a plane there. Since none of us were expecting to leave before Friday, we were, suffice to say, not sufficiently packed, thinking we had another day to go!

Ergo most of us worked to between 12am and 4am this morning packing up all the field supplies etc in anticipation of the flight today.

8.30am rolled around. It was only high cloud – but they’ve cancelled flights on clear blue sky days for less… By 9am, I could see a faint ‘mist’ hanging over a hill to the south. By 9.05am, that mist had translated into a veil of light snow fall across the valley. Not heavy cloud or snow – the sun was still shining through the cloud… but snow nontheless. 9.15am, flight was cancelled.

Well. Not surprising really… But it was badly received by the many of us who were exhausted from the cram-2-days-packing-into-1 effort of the night before, and it also left us with nothing to do!

Tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy but no precipitation. Once again, we have been absolutely postively promised that we maybe able to fly if possibly the weather is good… And if we can’t fly tomorrow, then they won’t bother over the weekend as that is not convenient for the office workers to have to organise logisitics after hours (and we are doing what??? working!!! no less!). Monday has heavy rain forecast so already, we are beginning to look at Tuesday for our earliest departure…

A lot of people said to me when I left for Russia this time “Oh! How exotic!” Well, folks… all I can say is working in Russia is not ‘exotic’ and it can be pretty close to hell on earth (probably Dante’s inner freezing circle of hell). A cruise along the St Petersburg canals or a drive through the bright lights of Moscow it is not. Eastern Russia is cold with short summers, bad weather and frequent delays. The Eastern cities are generally quite run down and a spectacular example of Russia being unable to run its entire empire from one city. What other country in the world, let alone the largest country in the world, has only 1 major city (2 if you count St Petersburg)? Grumbling, I invite you all to come and work in my place. I am finished with working in Russia – I want to work in places that when I can, with the exception of true weather delays,  can escape when planned!

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