On a road trip to do research, get data, and see some sites along the way. Stopped in Yamoussoukrou, the capital of the country, and visited the cathedral built by the former president Félix Houphouët-Boigny who was born there. Talk about a prestige project, wow. It's massive but basically in the middle of nowhere. It's a nice town, with really wide streets that have seen much better days but basically there is not much going on except for this huge cathedral and the fact that it's the "capital" although Abidjan is really the capital.
The trip is going to make a big loop up north to Korhogo, Bouna, Bondoukou, and then back to Bassam. We are really interested in getting data from people up here as there is a north-south divide in the country. So far Korhogo has been really nice and definitely different. There are bodas here which I have not seen yet in the Ivory Coast.
Very sad news out of Uganda. This morning I learned that my good friend, Turyatember Mathius, or Dongo as I and many others knew him, has died. He was collecting firewood and fell out of a tree.
Of course, I am very sad to hear this news. I just saw Dongo while in Uganda and if you have seen the videos I posted here he was his usual energy, and above all else he was very excited to see me and my friends. He was indeed a character to the maximum, and he was up for just about anything including shaving the thickest hair in the world into a mo-hawk that was absolutely unstoppable.
He grew up in the village, which he never left. He was dirt-poor, had a drinking problem, and was more or less unemployed. He was also loyal and he never wore shoes. Over the years, his feet had formed into something far tougher than the toughest leather. Several years ago we went looking for a possible place to build a water tank, a search that took us into thick bush with dense branches and thorns that were like needles and daggers. Dongo tore through it in his bare feet while I struggled along in my hiking boots. It was this zest that endeared him to me and many others. He was crazy and I loved that about him. God bless the crazies. God bless Dongo.
Chris and I went shopping in Abidjan a few weeks ago. We went to a pet store and the bird in there really liked Chris's shirt.
While shopping in Abidjan I decided to buy Anna a new sac for school. She had an old one that was basically like a sock with holes in it. I got her a new real back-pack with princesses on it. She was very excited and took it to school that afternoon. Her Mom told me she slept with it that night and again the next night.
John Doces. Je vous écris de la Côte-d'Ivoire en Afrique.