It was a long few weeks on the rig getting all the equipment ready for operation. This has been among the more challenging jobs I’ve worked and you couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to work with and struggle along side. Thanks Kelly, Ray, Chris, and Brandon.
I finally left the rig on Monday and made it back home Tuesday afternoon. It was a whirlwind trip full of mad rushes to make it in time for each of my connections. I flew off the rig by helicopter at 4:15pm and landed on shore in Vitoria at 5:00pm. I had to catch the next flight to Rio which departed at 6pm. The helicopter lands at the same airport but you have to go through all this security bag checks and paperwork after arriving from off the rigs. By the time I got to the main airport I had 20 minutes before departure. Then I find out that my flight was reserved but not ticketed. I texted our in-country manager who called the travel agent to see what was going on. I was running back and forth across the terminal from the ticketing counter to the check-in lines to see if the ticket made it through. Nothing. Nada. The ladies there were trying but it looked pretty hopeless. They finally said that they were sorry but they had to release the flight without me. As I began to walk away, I hear, “Mr. Leonard!!! It’s here!” The ticket showed up in their system at the last second. A check-in guy ran with me through the airport, cutting to the head of the line at security and through to the gate. There was no time to check any luggage so I just brought it with me out onto the tarmac. The flight attendant at the top of the stairs helped me find a hole for everything and off we flew to Rio. The trouble with this flight was that it landed me at a small domestic airport in Rio, not the big International one (GIG). I landed in Rio at 7:15 and my next flight was leaving at 8:55. Another sprint out of the gate to get through to the airport exit. Fortunately a taxi was waiting right outside and we got on the road for the next airport without any delay. With all the traffic, it took the better part of 40 minutes to drive only 7 miles. I arrived at Rio International at 8:00pm on the dot. Earlier in the afternoon, I had removed my contacts because they had been in for over 24 hours and were bothering my eyes. Now I’m running around this big terminal at the airport, squinting as hard as I can trying to make out the signs to see where to go for the United Airlines check-in. I find it and find it completely empty. No one at the counters. The United office was nearby and a lady there rushed through the check-in and passport check to get me headed out for the flight. By this time it’s about 8:15pm and I still have to go through security and passport control; it wasn’t looking good. Some more running through the airport and waiting in lines and I make it to the gate just in time to board before they close doors. I was totally out of gas by the time I made it to my seat. I had been up since the afternoon of the day before, worked all night, and was all over the rig the following morning trying to get all the paperwork together that would permit me to fly off the rig. I now had a 10 hour flight to relax and unwind a little. Of course I couldn’t sleep. I never can sleep on a plane. So, I watched movies and TV shows until the plane landed in Houston, TX. Yet another mad rush. Flight lands at 6am and the next flight leaves just after 7am. Another round of running through the airport terminals to get through Passport Control and then US Customs and then a train ride between the International Terminal and Domestic. I make it to my final departure gate with just enough time to put in my contacts and buy a little something to bring to my kids.
I am grateful to all the people who showed kindness and concern to help get me home. What a blessing this experience was for me.
Since I didn’t have internet on the rig, I was unable to share these last three photos I shot of Brazil. These came from my little experiment of necessity where I had to shoot with my iPhone since my Nikon had to be sent back to the US. (No cameras allowed on the rig without special permission that I couldn’t get)
And that’s the last of them. Now that I’m home and have my Nikon again, I hope to be posting more often. We’re planning to take a trip soon to Stone Mountain State Park(North Carolina, not Georgia). Hopefully I’ll be able to get some interesting shots worth sharing. Until then, be good and do good.