Last Day in Cote d'Ivoire and departure

Trip Start Jan 15, 2009
Trip End Feb 15, 2009

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

This morning Paul came to the hotel with Diaby again at 9:30. I checked out, loaded my luggage into the trunk and we drove out to La Mé. The detours around the road work on the outskirts of town were even slower than they had been. People that lived in the neighborhood had built all sorts of makeshift barriers and obstacles on the road itself, which obliged all the vehicles to drive very slowly and caused constant traffic snarls. I think that was to keep the dust down; the dust was really a big problem. People were wearing dust masks, shops and homes were caked in the fine red powder, stirred up by the unusual traffic on their road. What a mess for everyone. (The writing on this taxi says "God protect us" an appropriate prayer when driving in Abidjan...).
With that slowdown, it took us until nearly 12:00 to reach La Mé. We got started right away. I held an hour-long Bible Study for those interested in baptism, and then we had townhall-type meeting to discuss several matters of concern. That's a very typical way of handling disagreements among many African cultures, get the whole family, village or church involved and let everyone have his say. It took about 2 hours, but everyone seemed fairly content by the time we had finished. Charlotte served a little dish she had prepared, generous hospitality once again, and then we took our leave and headed for the airport. Diaby was concerned we wouldn't have enough diesel, and by that time I had spent or given away all the cash I had left. But we made it to the airport with enough left over for him to get back to his garage, so all ended well.
I arrived at the airport a bit before 5:00, just on time to check in, and everything went smoothly. The flight left on time at 7:00. The flight was more than half-full of Chinese heading for the Nairobi-Guangzhou flight, but there were also Indians, Kenyans, Congolese, and a few folks from the West. We flew first to Lagos. As we pulled up at the terminal I knew pretty well from the years I covered Nigeria for my church, and in spite of all the kind people I know in Nigeria, I was a bit relieved not to be getting off the plane. This is a rough neighborhood, like the one toward which I was heading: the Congo, but that, at least, won't be until tomorrow.
We took off again around 10:00 and started on our four-plus hour flight across the heart of the African jungle to Nairobi. We had a light dinner about an hour into the flight, now I'll try to get some sleep. I often think about how impenetrable the jungle is along this flight path. It's a wild and mysterious place even today. It would be interesting to visit sometime, but the logistical needs would be beyond anything I could manage.
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