Back to Abidjan

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

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Flag of Cote D  , Lagunes,
Monday, October 3, 2011

This morning as I prepared for my frigid morning shower, I found there was no running water. So the bucket came in handy. Splash some water around, soap up as well as possible, and splash it off again. It was a fitting end to our stay at the CAA hotel, which I can't say I will miss very much.

We checked out at 6:45. There was a mix-up about how much we were supposed to pay. Séussié had negotiated a lower price for my room, about $17 per night (we overpaid), but the reception desks hadn’t gotten the news, so we needed to call the manager. The girl behind the desk told me "I don’t have any units, do you have any units?" meaning credit on my phone. This is a common question in Africa and a very common concern. It seems everyone has a cell phone now, and they all use a pay-as-you-go plan. Users can buy a phone card with a scratch off code on it and have more units added to their phone account good for minutes of airtime or SMS messages. People here are constantly concerned with phone units. In the general poverty, people can’t afford much but they can’t afford to be without a phone either. The units really aren’t expensive by western standards, they can recharge their phones for a dollar or two; we pay much more for our airtime. In any event, there is much bargaining over who has units, and whose phone should be used for what purpose.

She very possibly did have units on her phone, but didn’t want to use them for us. The manager probably wouldn’t repay her for any credits used. Paul finally came to the desk up and used his phone and we got the issue sorted out, $17 instead of $21.

I paid, and we drove to the Brioche for our coffee and pain au raisin. Felix and his wife arrived in time for breakfast too. They said they had had a very nice visit with their family in the region, that was why they had come with us to Man. After we finished, we said goodbye to Mrs. Tia, she would be staying longer with her family, and the five of us headed for Abidjan. We saw more strange sites like a fellow riding on the hood of taxi traveling at 40 miles an hour down the road. He didn't seem overly concerned. I'm convinced some people here have a distinct lack of imagination!

The road was clear, traffic lighter than when we came north, and we made better time on the return, only 6 ½ hours instead of 7 ½. We stopped briefly in Yamoussoukro to put some diesel in the car and buy a snack. I gave my three companions 1000 francs each, about $2 – enough to buy a snack and a soft drink, and said they could pick the snack they wanted. I was a little curious to see what they would buy. As it turned out, they preferred to skip the snack and keep the cash.

At the outskirts of Abidjan, Felix ask to disembark, and ask me for some money to help him get back to La Mé. We said goodbye until Wednesday when I should be back out to his village again.

We arrived at the hotel a little before 15:30. I was interested to see a squad of UN soldiers guarding the hotel with a heavy machine gun equipped vehicle. I could see from the flag on their uniforms that they were Jordanian. I went up to them politely and motioned with my camera to ask if I could take their photo. Having spent several summers in Jordan, recognized it when one of them gave me the Jordanian sign for “what do you think you’re doing?” which starts with the hand out palm down followed by a quick movement of the hand rotating up, palm up, thumb extended. But I smiles and persevered and finally the one in charge ask if I was staying in the hotel, and when I nodded, said I could take the photo. I don’t know if I feel better knowing they’re present or not. There are stickers on the front doors of the Ibis, indicating we have to leave our assault weapons outside....

I paid for the taxi, and said goodbye to Paul and Séussié until tomorrow in the afternoon. And I checked back in to the Ibis Plateau. It will be great to have a hot shower, and sleep in clean sheets tonight.
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bernardhongerlo on

Cher Joël,

Votre blog est fascinant. Il est – entre autres – bon de revoir Paul, Felix et Seussié sur les photos. Ils ont pris un peu d'âge. Content que tout se soit bien passé, que vous ayez pu faire des baptêmes, revoir les Frères. et que vous ayez enfin pu prendre une bonne douche et dormir dans un bon lit. Bon courage pour le restant du voyage. Et encore un grand merci pour votre dévouement pour ces êtres qui sont précieux aux yeux de Dieu.



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