Last Thursday, we left early in the morning for Songori, the village where Adou my RA comes from. It is in the NorthEast of the country close to the border with Ghana. The main town is called Bondoukou and the village is about 30-40 minutes away.
Leaving Thursday morning, we had to first go to Abidjan to exchange our money for small bills that we pay people who take part in our experiment. Of course, we wasted some time in Abidjan for various reasons but we also got stopped by the cops who told us we could not drive on the road we were on which was a main road with lots of traffic. They told us our car would be impounded for 48 hours, blah, blah. So 10,000 CFA later or about $15 we were back on the road.
We made good time but then after a while the road got pretty bad so it slowed us down a fair amount. It was typical bumps with a lot of dust. I have seen worse but I’ve seen better too. It was bad enough to blow out one of our tires which we didn’t realize had happened until we pulled over to go to the bathroom. Fortunately we did this in a small town because once we popped the trunk to get the crank and lift there was a kid on the spot and no more than a minute later a guy pulled up on a motorcycle and then came back with a better lift for us. We got the tire off and the kid ran it over to the mechanic. Fast forward thirty minutes and the tire was done.
While the tire was being fixed I wandered into the village a little bit. The women I met were very nice and welcoming but some of the little ones were very afraid of me. Lots of tears were shed. Nevertheless, the moms and I had a lot of laughs as their kids shrieked in horror when I approached. I gave them some money for food when the car was done.
When I got back to the car I asked how much for the repais and Adou told me 2,000 cfa which I said was too small. I offered the guy on the motorcycle 5,000 cfa or about $8 but he wouldn’t take it. I couldn’t believe it. The same thing happened to me in Albania, and it just blows my mind how generous people can be, but as in Albania I made the guy take the money. They earned it.
The village we are in is about 30 minutes outside of a small town. We stopped in the town to meet people and toured a high-school. We met Adou’s Uncle who is a Catholic priest and we met the “Chief” Pastor who was a very nice man. We said a prayer and they gave us some drinks including beer for me. Good times drinking some cold beer and praying with the Catholics even though I’m not Catholic and our driver is Muslim. Up here it seems like there are more Muslims than Christians but I’m not sure. The women I met in the village were all Muslims and I have seen more conservative dress than in Abidjan and Bassam.
We finally got to Adou’s village and they were so welcoming with drinks and food. They were really happy to see us and we met a lot of people and went through the normal rituals of meeting people and greeting each other.
Now I am going to bed because I am exhausted. Long day.
John Doces. Je vous écris de la Côte-d'Ivoire en Afrique.