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Ivorians and Their Baguettes: a Few Observations and Some Pictures

Previously on Philintheblank: Twenty four hours of violent diarrhea and vomiting followed by eleven hours in a bus stairwell. Arrived in Abidjan exhausted, dirty, sunburnt, and bacteria-ridden. One night of revival at a posh hotel turned into six when I became trapped in an elevator and was offered free lodging.

For six days I split my time between the hotel bar and my king sized bed. Does this sound depressing? It was glorious. If the room is free, sitting around watching movies is a guiltless affair. When I was teaching, a snow day had the same effect.

But when you have five snow days in a row (Snowpocalypse? Snowmageddon?) you start to get restless. So it is with the comfy hotel room.

I’ve since been couchsurfing, staying with three awesome twenty-something Ivorians, meeting their family and friends, and getting to know this country that was on the state department’s “don’t go” list when I was in Ghana five years ago. Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

1. Baguettes. Bread is purchased every day, always French bread. Served with every meal. The French meddled with their colonies a lot more than the British. This is obvious whenever you sit down to eat.

2. All Ivorians have at least two phones. It is cheaper to call within your own network so you buy two phones with two different networks. For example, if a friend has Koz, you use your Koz phone to call them.

3. There was a civil war here. This I knew. It was not a big war. Not like Liberia or Sierra Leone. Right now the country is split between government controlled south and rebel controlled north. There is a loose coalition government holding things together. On October 31st, they plan to have elections for the first time in ten years. Many Ivorians are worried about this. Here are a few possibilities: 1. Elections will be cancelled, as they have been repeatedly in the past ten years. 2. Elections go off without a hitch and there is a new government. 3. Civil War. According to the Ivorians I’ve talked to, the most likely scenario seems to be that elections will happen and there will be a long drawn out dispute over the rightful winner which will result in political gridlock and an economy in decline, as is the case right now.

4. Some Ivorian music is insane. 140 beats per minute dance your ass off but also build an erector set at the same time kind of craziness. Has Diplo discovered this yet? I am digging it and I will soon share.

5. There are two channels in Cote d’Ivoire and 30 Rock, dubbed in French, is on one of them nightly.

6. The Ivorians I am staying with love Ben Stiller.

7. In Ghana, a mosque was commonly pronounced mawx. In Cote d’Ivoire, a mosque is a mosquée. I don’t know which one I like more.

Here are some pics:

Sauce aubergine cooking on the stove. Eggplant, okra, chili, fish are the principal ingredients.

Finished product, delicious

What is this Canadian or something? It is hanging in a house in Abidjan…

African kitchen: outside the house.

Ivorian tro-tros are called gbakas. This is fairly typical: the mate gave up his seat to fit another passenger inside. Les japponais noirs – the black Japanese.

The outskirts of Abidjan, electricity here and there, no running water

Cave Heineken. Pubs are everywhere. Ivorians like to party. More on this later.

If you cant tell that is a wheelbarrow full of attieke, aka Ivorian couscous. Ivorian couscous is made from, cassava and it is damn good.

Trying to get a gbaka home at rush hour

Buying fish in the evening is risky business. In this case, it worked out.

I would like to post more, but will wait until better internet. I am trying to catch up on messages but it is slow going. Will respond soon. Coming soon: Ivorian tunes and nightlife in Abidjan

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Leonardo Guisseppe Micalini Paoletta September 14, 2010, 8:39 pm

    How much pain….shitting and puking….living the dream

    Before you die get your ass home!!!!



  • phil September 17, 2010, 5:16 pm

    Haha love you too dad

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