Since Anna's school doesn't start until next week she was here today again. Her brothers were her for part of the time. We played but I worked a lot in my office too. I actually got them to go into down-time and they took naps for a lot of the afternoon. Israel, the middle brother, napped on the couch, Chris the oldest was at school, and Anna part of the time napped on the couch and the rest in my bed. Ha! Then after a long doze she woke up and wanted to come into the office with me so I made her a little bed in there and then I had a skype call (work related) and she joined in for part of it. Hilarious. The guy I was talking to speaks perfect French so Anna had what I'm guessing is her first skype conversation with him. He's in Thailand.
Who says Monday has to boring? Not Anna nor her brother Chris (nor me). I came home from my french lesson and was greeted with great enthusiasm by the kids. What a joy. They wanted to play some music (first question) so I put on some and then hit some Stevie Ray Vaughn and Anna started crushing 'Look at Little Sister'. (Of course she did.) No one has ever danced better to that awesome tune. I mean seriously: their mom was there and Anna started cutting a serious rug. Look at little sister!
After a very late night/early morning watching the hawks blow it in Green Bay, I woke up a little late. Veronique was here in the kitchen so I got up to say hi and to my very pleasant surprise there was a little one in there with her. Today she brought her daughter and her name is Anna. She's adorable and we are fast friends.
We hung out and I read to her and then I put some cartoons on my computer. They were a hit. Her brothers then came over on a break from school (there school is only a few blocks away) and they hung out too. They liked my phone but Anna was not to keen on having to share it with them. She's only four and they're 10 and 11 but she let them know what she thought. Go Anna. I walked them back to school and Anna insisted on coming and she held my hand as we walked to school. She continued with her brothers (I wasn't sure if she was staying with me or what exactly what was going) which is a very African thing...it takes a village as they say.
As you might guess, Anna is a Seahawks fan and we both agree that the season is sooo early. Everyone chill.
Today was very African. It started out at the beach having a french lesson with Eric. We met a friend of his and did a lot of work drinking coffee and hanging out. We decided to go to Abidjan in the afternoon and we left to meet up later. The place we were at is not that far from my apartment--some times I walk and others I take a cab. Since I knew I was heading to Abidjan soon I decided to take a cab. It's a short ride, probably less than a mile.
While driving home there was a police officer in road that comes into the French quarter and he waved at the cab I was in to stop. The driver pulled over, immediately reached under his seat, pulled out a bill (had to be 500 francs, less than $1), jumped out of the car greeting the cop like they were long lost friends and slapped hands with a slick transfer of the money. The driver got back in the car and we both laughed hard.
Later in Abidjan, Eric and I met his friends for beers and dinner at a local place in one of the many bustling neighborhoods. They all live in Abidjan and we had an a fantastic meal (see post) and had a few beers. They drove us to another part of the city where we got out to catch a cab. The cab driver decided the fare was 1000 francs and the beer we had with us (a 48 ounce can of Ivorian Schlitz) at the time. We said okay and got in. He started driving and then of course cracked the beer. When in Rome as they say.
A city of contradictions. Moves very fast yet can be slow on the side streets. Very dusty and congested but with modern super-slick malls. Tons of poverty yet extreme wealth too. Slums abound approaching the city from Bassam--miles and miles of slums on both sides of the frogger-like highway one of which runs parallel to the ocean. The slums are mazes of shacks and shops and one thing is for sure they are communities thriving with life.
We walked through one of them in Abidjan. Dusty, exhaust-filled, crowded, yet exhilarating and full of life. The people, especially the kids, were friendly with an easy "Bonjour." I took video and pics and they all wanted to be part of the action. The kids went nuts. I took several pics of them. Here are two--the first pic is of three very, very friendly kids and the second adds another little guy (probably their brother) who wanted in the pic bad as you can see on the side of the first pic. (I pulled him in for the second pic.) Of course, I showed them and they loved it. Notice how the three older kids are smiling and seem to be having fun and the little guy is taking the pic like it's the first day of boarding school or something. He's a bro, for sure.
My friend Oozman, a Senegalese guy, came with me to Abidjan and showed me around as he knows Abidjan very well and could help a lot with the language/s. While we were walking I went to the bathroom--a man on the street generously let me use his off the side of the street--and as I walked to the outhouse in a cramped building I saw Oozman fill a tea pot with water and at first I thought it was for me to wash with but then I realized he was going to get in a quick prayer. Good for him--I should pray more often although I do find myself giving a lot of thanks these days. Later, I saw some other spots on the street with a large rectangular carpet and lots of small tea pots for Muslims to wash and pray. It was cool to see how prayer gets integrated with daily life.
I went to the political rally for the president coming to Bassam. Actually I went once in the morning and then decided to go back later and try to take some pics and video. This is a little tricky and I knew I would have to try and conceal it. (I learned the hard way in Uganda about how you can into trouble taking pics of authorities.) So I walked with my phone as if I was talking and cautiously shot some video. This worked and then I tried a few more and eventually got cocky and actually started shooting regular style. Mistake. In a matter of seconds I heard a loud horn hock, a guy in a sharp blue suit yelling at the me to come to him and he was serious. "Oh no I am going to lose my phone for sure," I thought as I walked to him. Indeed, he was very serious and he made me delete some pictures. Here is a video of the scene.
His name is Eric and he is the man. He is the best and is not only teaching me french but has helped me do a million other things in town. Besides learning french, we have a number of other plans including visiting other parts of the country and taking a trip to Ghana.
We do about 6 hours of practice per week. It's fun because we review and learn new material and then go practice. Last Wednesday, we left my place and went to la rue congo to chez pat, a french spot, and had beers with some locals including pat himself. Here is what the night looked like and how the Hawks are world-wide including representing in West Africa.
John Doces. Je vous écris de la Côte-d'Ivoire en Afrique.