About this Site

My name is Phil Paoletta. Formerly a middle school teacher in Washington, DC, I am now a camel drawing consultant based in West Africa.

I originally traveled to West Africa (specifically, Ghana, where I studied abroad as a sophomore in college) because I liked highlife music. Once I got there, I found other things — groundnut stew, Twi, mapouka (the dance and the alcohol), orange-headed lizards — that I also liked. In 2010, I quit my job to return to Ghana and to visit other countries in the region.

Somehow, I now find myself based in the region (most often in Abidjan and Bamako) for most of the year, making money with web work, freelance writing and a burgeoning restaurant/catering business I am running with two Ivorian friends in Abidjan. I am also the co-owner of some sheep outside of Bamako and I run a travel health site at sickontheroad.com.

Other things: I make music, like this, and art, like this. I will play settlers of catan anywhere and one of my best friends is a camel named Clyde who lives in Arizona. I like travel, but specifically slow travel. I prefer sitting in a bar to visiting a museum (apparently this guy Paulo Coelho reads my blog).

This website is a space for me to report on my wanderings and to share videos, photos, and music I’m working on as well as listening to. The writing is a mix of commentary, narrative and some nonsense. If you dig the site, subscribe by RSS or email. Comments and emails are always appreciated. You can also contact me through twitter at philinthe_ and on facebook here. I hope to connect with some of you in person as well! If you find yourself in Abidjan, let me know – there will be a free plate of food waiting for you.

See you somewhere – Phil

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Aunt Sharon July 11, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Happy birthday Phil…from the Harwat family and Papa. We are enjoying reading about your travels. We moved Kirk to Richmond last week…in 100 degree weather. Stay safe…we are thinking of you.
Lebron who?


George Jenkins August 16, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Hello Phil, I work with your Dad here @ HKM.
Stay safe and be well!
George Jenkins


Francine Paknik September 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Hi Phil,
Your dad and I were just talking here at HKM and he showed me your website.
I would like to follow your journey and see where this goes. I am impressed with your brave nature and your spirit.

Be safe and I look forward to reading more.

Francine Paknik


phil September 14, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Hi Francine, thanks for reading!


Esther November 24, 2010 at 10:55 pm


I was checking out video footage from Mali b/c we were there doing dance work as well and I came across your stuff on youtube.

We are performing and teaching in Morocco right now (Meknes) and then Casa next week as part of Action Danse.

Probably crossed you in Mali…see you in Morocco maybe!




phil November 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Hey Esther, very cool. I will be back in Casa but not until the 12th. Will you still be around?


TJ November 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Phil – your journeys sound amazing. Looming forward to hearing about it sometime soon. Happy thanksgiving.


TJ November 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Phil – your journeys sound amazing. Looming forward to hearing about it sometime soon. Happy thanksgiving.


Janet February 25, 2011 at 8:29 am

Great blog…kind of raging I’m only coming across it now as I love all things to do with Africa and African adventures..but alas I shall back track and take a peek at your archives!


phil February 26, 2011 at 1:17 am

Hey Janet, thanks for reading and glad you are enjoying the site :)


Phill Turner April 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Love the tunes Phil Nice one!
Travel and music and name Phil…………..

nice love the tracks



Michel Shay May 6, 2011 at 8:50 am


Please provide me email id of webmaster.



Tearelle February 25, 2012 at 8:42 am

Hello Phil,
I just wanted to say thank you for your piece on Mali. I was surfing the net…trying to find vidoes that would help me learn the language and culture… your insight on introductions is very helpful.

Thanks again


phil February 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

Hi Tearelle,
Thank you for the kind words. Glad you appreciate the site.
Take care,


Mike November 16, 2012 at 11:21 am

Just stumbled across your web site…you look like somebody fun to have a beer with. Just left Mali after being there 6 years (“deja,” as the Malians say), but hope to be back at some point in the future. Good luck w/ your project(s).


phil November 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

Hey, Mike, would love to have a beer with you in Mali when you come back :)


Claire June 5, 2013 at 8:07 am

Afternoon Phil,
I think I have contacted the wrong person.
I see I have a lot to look forward to when I get back home to Abidjan.
I am really excited about your venture, and hope we can meet when I get back.
By the way I have pepper sauce to sell and need a market.
Reply via my email address please.


eloratour December 23, 2013 at 4:34 am

Hai Phil Paoletta,

From a a middle school teacher in Washington, DC, to a camel drawing consultant based in West Africa … interesting … :D

Warm regard from Lampung, Indonesia.


Juste Fanou July 5, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Hi Phil,

First of all, congrats on the awesome blog! I will be in Ivory Coast in 2015, God willing, and would love to come by your restaurant to have some discussions with you =). I am running a little project of my own, and I feel that we have similar interests.

Until then, keep up the good work!



phil July 25, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Thanks for the kind words. Ok, cool, please be in touch. My email is phil dot paoletta at gmail dot com


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