DXpedition diary #1 - Latvians in Africa

Sunday, October 1st

Late in the evening I finish packing last DXpedition gear. After that my daughter and her husband drove me from my hometown Valka to Riga to for the morning plane

Monday, October 2nd

Around 6am I meet up with Kaspars/YL3AIW in Riga airport. We do some baggage management and check in for our destination - SSG (Malabo) through Paris. Riga airport security calls me in for baggage inspection and asks more information about our baggage contents. Each passenger is allowed to carry 2 baggage bags each 23kg and one hand bag. Mine and Kaspars baggage together is 134 kg and for oversized antenna bag we have to pay extra 75 EUR and other than that is ok. Our hand bags contents for each are 1 PA, K3 transceiver and laptop.

Trip to destination goes by fast. Flight from Paris to Cameroon is full and further from Cameroon to Malabo we are only about 10-15 passengers on the whole Airbus plane

In Malabo airport we have a surprise waiting for us - one of our bags is lost on the way - the one with antennas which was checked in Riga airport. After talking with airport personal we get answer that the bag may get here in 1 - 2 days or even a week.

Our hotel bus waits by the airport and takes us to our hotel Magno suites.

During our chat with hotel management it turns out that 3C7A (LA7GIA) also was here and operated from the same hotel.

Same day after checking our surroundings we realize that there is no good place for setting up our antennas. Hotel roof is sloped and it's dangerous to walk on it. Next to hotel is embassy territory with fence and there aren't any parks close by.

Tuesday, October 3rd

Hotel manager finds for us taxi driver who speaks English

and he takes us to Ministry of Communications and New technologies.

This is new ministry and no one there has any clue what we need and what to do with us. We get lucky and the opportunity to speak straight with the director of Telecommunications department. He tells us what paperwork we must do and we accomplish it very quickly by the midday. For the next meeting we have to wait for the next day, because the director wasn't in the office at that time anymore. The appointment was set on 10am and it is postponed every morning to the next morning by next couple days.

Wednesday, October 4th

We move to another hotel that we found to be more suitable for our operations. Our taxi driver Farmi is very kind and ready to help us 2 times every day for the language matters. We still are driving around to scout for more suitable QTH.

Later that day we set up GP and go for evening meal to the city. This is when the "fun" part begins. We receive phone call from hotel supervisor about our antennas. We get back to hotel around 8pm where dozen persons from security instances wait for us. We have to explain everything and tell that we didn't know about strict regulations. We take down all antennas and cables within minutes. Finally we talk and solve this misunderstanding.

Friday, October 6th

We are back in the office and there is a little progress. We are told the prices for the licenses. I asked for a year's license, however the price was fantastic and I better will not tell it! After discussion we manage to get 1 month license and still it was very expensive. I pay and wait the director's promise that we will receive it today or in the morning, but I stay very reserved, because tomorrow is Saturday. Already week here and still no operating, we have to hope for the best.

In the meantime we are looking for possible flights to Annobon. This week's all flights were cancelled due to weather conditions. Next window is for the next Tuesday or Saturday. Again we have to stay hopeful and positive. We also have to take into account that we have to get back from Annobon and that may be a problem as well.

Saturday, October 7th

I phone director and he tells me that the minister has signed it and the licence is on its way from Bata.

Sunday, October 8th

We are still searching for better hotel. Next closest city is Luba - 50km away and next to ocean. Traffic bus brings us by beautiful hotel "Nautico" next to the ocean coast. We search for hotel administrator and tell him our wishes. We walk around hotel but still there is no good place for setting up antennas and we move on.

Locals point us towards next hotel "Prokadero". We walk and after 1 hour realize that we didn't ask how far it was, so we walk back and look for a taxi and it turns out to be a 9km ride. He shows us couple more hotels but no one with suitable antenna fields.

We talk on phone with Telecomunication director and he brings the news, that the license has arrived and we schedule a meeting on Monday morning 10am.

With hope we wait for the morning

To be continued.

Yuris /YL2GM/

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