After a long search, I have found a great appartment in an old colonial building above a random vietnamese restaurant in the 'quartier francais' with a local ex-pat population from france and some local ivorian fishing villages. The latter are very poor but rustic and interesting and there is a huge soccer field where intense matches are played. (While not as popular, basketball is played and the university where I am working at has a court so I'm going to organize some evening games.) The quartier is surrounded by a lagoon on one side and the ocean on the other with a mix of hotels on one end and then residential areas on the other. It's quite the place and will be a fun neighborhood to live in.
My appartment is an old building on the second floor with high ceiling and windows with shutters. There are a number of cafes and artist galleries and pottery shops around that draw a lot of people from outside including folks from abroad looking for African art. The work is very good and I can see why people want to buy it to take home.
As soon as I'm moved in I will post some pics and video.
Wow, what a first few days. Got to Paris then had a long lay over and got to Abidjan late. Professor from University picked me up and I went to bed and slept until 3 pm the next day. Whoops...or oh yeah! Had a look around town and decided that the French Quarter is where I want to live. Slower paced, nice cafes, and some cool old colonial type houses. No luck securing a place but I'm checking some out tomorrow so that should be good. Yesterday, we went to a fishing village a bit out of town and it was really, really cool. Took a long walk through it and the people were very welcoming but not too welcoming. All of the places were simple and it was poor but still there was a lot of pride and organization to the village stretched out along the coast. Pretty cool and the people were great. It was kind of unusual in that they just gave us a bonsoir or ca va and went about their business. Kind of nice especially for an American in la cote d'ivoire. Today, headed out to a private beach deep in the jungle and it was money. Roads were terrible on the way and had to get a ride in a 4x4 for the last part but the place was very cool and we had a fantastic lunch and caught some waves. Surf was blown out but talked to some locals and they said early morning is very good and that the best months are ahead: October through March are supposed to be phenomenal. Can't wait.
Well, the day has arrived and I head out to Abidjan and then to Grand Bassam tomorrow. I'm really excited to get going and take advantage of all the opportunities this experience has to offer. Of course, I will miss my family and friends a lot but I know some of you are coming (Foley, Goodwin, Robbie, Archie, the Society at large, Freer, Edwards, Rock, Dougall, Geoff, Gates(?)).
And, to be sure, Go Hawks!
John Doces. Je vous écris de la Côte-d'Ivoire en Afrique.