Sabbath in Blolé

Trip Start Sep 15, 2011
Trip End Oct 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
CAA Hotel

Flag of Cote D  , Dix-Huit Montagnes,
Saturday, October 1, 2011

This morning I checked the water when I got up at 06:00. It was running! On the other hand, it had had all night to cool off and as we're in the mountains - with cool nights: the water was cold. The morning air was cool too, and as the windows won’t close in my bathroom, it was a cold shower in cold morning air. As the old man said in Braveheart: "that’ll wake you up in the morning, boys!"

We left he hotel a little before 07:00. We drove to the Brioche, little place in town that makes French breakfast pastries and bread. They must have a French bread oven in the back, a special piece of machinery that is required to bake such things. The food seems safe enough too. The first time I came here a few years back there were French soldiers wearing UN light blue, having their breakfast here; that was a good sign.

My three traveling companions has croissants, I had a pain au raison (raison bread). We all had café au lait, which in this case means a packet of Nescafé and a portion of hot milk. One puts the instant coffee in the milk and voilà, café au lait.

By 07:30 we were on the road the Blolé where we planned to spend the Sabbath. The road to this village had worsened considerably. The ruts were so deep in places that Hamed had no margin for error, had we slipped one way or the other we would have been stuck solid. But he was careful and got us through. I thought to myself, that if it started to rain, we’d get stuck out there for quite a while. While I was mulling that thought over, Hamed said “if it starts to rain….” He was thinking the same thing. I silently asked that the rain be held until we were done with our work.

We pulled in to Blolé about 08:00. Mamadou Tokpa was thrilled to see us. He grabbed us a big hug and even kissed us on the cheek, a big sloppy wet kiss, he was so happy. It has been about a year and a half since I was last able to come here. In their isolation, that must seem even longer. The welcome was very warm.

Word went out that we had arrived and people attending church here started arriving. By 09:00 we were ready to start services, which would be held in the Tokpas “living room.” In dry weather they have their services outdoors, but the ground was wet and there was a threat of rain too, so we went indoors.

Services hadn’t been planned much in advance, we’ll need to discuss that so I can give some pointers; it seemed people were being picked on the fly for hymns and special music. Seussié was asked to give the sermonette with about 10 minutes warning. He did a very good job, speaking on the Church of God as a little flock and how we need to look to the Bible, and not to other churches, to know how we should do things.

There was some spirited special music and then I spoke for an hour, translated phrase by phrase into Yoruba, on the topic of the Fall Festivals and their New Testament meaning. After services we fellowshipped for a while as several ladies prepared to serve lunch: chicken in greens on rice. Hospitality is an important value here, so even people with little will do their best to serve guests the best they have or even better, by borrowing from neighbors. I ate very lightly as always. As we ate, the rumble of thunder could easily be heard. We all thought of the state of the road. If it started raining heavily as it appeared it would, we wouldn’t make it back to Man. We didn’t hurry eating lunch and did take time to talk and take photos of the members enjoying the special feast, but as the sky darkened we decided we’d best head back to Man.

I was very thankful that the rain hit around us, we could see it here and there, but not on our road. As we approached Man, however it was clear it had just rained heavily there. Water was running through the crevasses in the road like a small stream. But by the time we reached that point, the road was passable even very wet, so we made it back to the hotel without trouble.

Since I hadn't eaten much, I had Hamed drive me back to the Brioche to see what was on the menu. They have a sign outside offering quite a large variety of food, but apparently that dated from better days. All the could offer me was a sort of hamburger, which I accepted. As I ate, I watched the life in central Man. There is a constant traffic of vehicles and people in the muddy streets, and always something interesting to see.

We spent the rest of the afternoon resting and studying or in my case working on upcoming festival responsibilities.

At 18:00 we headed to the outskirts of town where the restaurants and bars are located. We chose a different maquis this time, our usual one, with no apparent name but located where the phone booth is, was open and ready for business. We ordered chicken all around and began our hour-long wait until it would be served. The sky looked threatening and the air was pregnant with rain, so we moved in under the roofed part of the establishment. Shortly thereafter a heavy rain began. The waiter came and rolled down a plastic curtain to keep the rain from blowing in on us.  Water ran like a shallow stream across the concrete area outside courtyard of the restaurant and down the street as well. We had to shout to be heard over the rain on the tin roof.

After half an hour, the rain began to slacken, and after a while longer, it stopped completely, just in time for our meal to arrive. This was a copious meal of meaty chicken served with both French fried potatoes and manioc couscous and with a spicy tomato, onion and chili pepper sauce. It was a much better meal and value than we had last night. We’ll be back here again, no doubt.
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Karen Collins on

Thank you so much for taking the time to write down your travels with pictures for us. It gives us a sense of closeness to our brethren around the world. My prayers are with you all.

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