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Mostly Photos of Food and Friends in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Rain animates the metal roofs and invites us to sleep. It is Abidjan’s only tranquilizer. The shops close, the coupe-decale stops playing, the potholes grow deeper.

The morning after a night of rain, we carry our bodies to a shared taxi. Me, my former couchsurfing hosts turned business partners, Faty and David, and Faty’s neighbor, D-lo. Drifting to sleep, we wake up when a gbaka edges us off the driveable part of the road. The prentike wags his finger at us and our driver tells him that he will decapitate his penis. Abidjan shakes off its stupor.

We are on our way to our second catering gig, a training workshop at the social services bureau. A traffic jam on the auto-route changes our plans and we head to the lagoon. From Yopougon, we bypass the congestion by taking a pinasse (a crowded water taxi, 20 cents a ride) to Plateau, Abidjan’s business district.

In the afternoon, the sun comes out. We play cards and drink palm wine under a mango tree. Our business will surely have setbacks. In fact, it may flop completely. But today, we celebrate. After the workshop, we earned our first contract, weekly catering through October for CNPS workshops.

Palm wine and cards

David building a device for catching cocoa pods

Inside of a cocoa pod. After the sweet fleshy part is the seed that is ground up into cocoa powder.

My local coffee shop. It is exactly 5 steps from Faty’s front door. Tomato and onion omelette on a baguette for 40 cents.

Fabrice … living his life

Crocodile, onions and chiles on their way to becoming a stew

Me and my business partners

D-lo’s sauce of onions, chili peppers and tomatoes.

D-lo cooking her sauce. This became one the toppings at her shwarma stand that she would open later that night.

We are probably going to rent this apartment.

Setting up our restaurant space. Our rent is 20,000 CFA a month (about $40).

In my last post, I shared a picture of the maisonette we are building to use as an office and a store house for bulk ingredients. This is the door to the maisonette, and the door-maker, who likely looks distressed because we’ve overwhelmed his shop with requests.

Inside the still door-less maisonette. The cement is dry now and we can do work here during the day. Once we have a door, we will start piling in the supplies. In this photo, making some food for ourselves instead of someone else.

Gingembre and bissap to be sold

D-lo’s shwarma stand. We’re not the only ones going into the food business. D-lo, or didy, decided to start her own enterprise in front of her house.

Rerouting some electricity for the shwarma press

The first shwarma. They were delicious. I ordered three. She sold out the first night.

In my next post, I will describe what it’s been like to start a restaurant and catering biz in Abidjan, including a look at expenses, profits, planning etc.

If you enjoyed this post, consider sharing it with the buttons below or subscribing to the blog by RSS or Email Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

{ 25 comments… add one }

  • Jennifer Davis March 6, 2012, 5:57 am

    I’m loving your updates and getting a glimpse into your entrepreneurial adventure! Thanks for sharing! (I found your site via Stephen Wooten’s πŸ™‚

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:06 am

      Thanks, Jennifer! Glad you are enjoying

  • Bula @ The Irreverent Traveller March 6, 2012, 6:26 am

    Lovely narrative! And wonderful photos. I think I am going to be going through your site on a regular basis now.

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:06 am

      Thanks, Bula πŸ™‚

  • Dalene March 6, 2012, 7:27 am

    You’re amazing.

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:07 am

      I think I’ve been fortunate to find amazing friends. This whole idea was conceived in their heads and I jumped in for the ride πŸ™‚

  • Marlys March 7, 2012, 1:45 am

    I can see you are having a grand time, Phil. Have you really adjusted your tongue to that bell chili pepper I see in one of the pics that went into the Shwarma sauce? That’s hell-hot, that!

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:09 am

      If it’s cooked, yes. Fresh, I can take in small doses. You ain’t lying tho

  • Katrina March 7, 2012, 3:53 am

    I’m so coming to visit once you have that restaurant up. Crocodile stew! Zomg!

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:10 am

      Your meal will be on the house!

  • Ana (Ana Travels) March 7, 2012, 8:50 am

    The food looks fresh and delicious. Not at all what I would have expected. By the way, is the sweet fleshy part of the cocoa pod edible? I imagine it tastes like chocolate πŸ™‚ Good luck on your new enterprise!

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:10 am

      Yes, that’s the best part!! It doesn’t taste like chocolate, though. Thanks!

  • Jools Stone March 7, 2012, 11:00 am

    Interesting, I’ve honestly never seen inside of a cocoa pod before – and how’s that gator stew then?

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:14 am

      Croc stew πŸ™‚

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel March 7, 2012, 11:59 am

    The food looks so tasty. It’s very interesting to learn what it’s like setting up a business Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire- especially about getting electricity. Can’t wait for your next post!

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:17 am

      Mary,
      That electricity bit was for a small shwarma stand. We are connected to the main grid with our restaurant space. Abidjan mostly has very reliable power.

  • Abby March 7, 2012, 2:44 pm

    I want your life!! I’m loving my little career jaunt for now, but your blog gets me itching to go back to that lifestyle. You are such an inspiration!

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:18 am

      Hey Abby, thanks for the kind words. Like I said, I’ve been fortunate to find some great people here and that’s why this whole thing is happening.

  • Ben Gubits March 7, 2012, 5:14 pm

    Incredible Buddy!!! Glad to hear things are progressing with the restaurant. I have no doubt the food is exceptional, perhaps a rendition will be apropriate in the GAUNTLET!!

    Stay IRIE brudda!!!!!

    • phil March 9, 2012, 6:19 am

      Benjamin,
      I want you hear for opening day!!!

  • Kyle March 9, 2012, 12:07 pm

    This is the best. Best of luck with your apartment, it looks… cozy

  • dtravelsround March 10, 2012, 12:45 am

    I love what you are doing!! SO cool!!

  • Cam March 11, 2012, 8:03 pm

    Some great pics – look like you’re having a fun time!

  • Siddhartha Joshi April 1, 2012, 3:37 pm

    Crocodile? Wow…that’s really something!

  • Freddie August 24, 2012, 8:59 am

    I found you blog here interesting. I am from Portland, Oregon USA, and currently here in Abidjan… my first time:-)

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