24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

22 December 2010

Safe and Sound

Just to put everyone's mind at ease, we are indeed in Belgium. We've even been evacuated! That was exciting. Here's the story.

We were planned to leave Ivory Coast on the 5th of November, after the second tour of the elections.
The first tour went smoothly, we just had to stay on the plantation for a while. We all foresaw trouble at the second round, but as we were leaving permanently, my husband had some loose end to work through on his job and of course we had all this packing to do.
Come friday the fifth, we had packed and wee living in an empty house, but Ivory Coast closed it's borders. No way in, no way out.
By Saturday, the company had decided to evacuate all women and children and we tried to get a plane... to anywhere, because Brussels Airlines had stopped landing in Abidjan as soon as Laurent Gbagbo (previous Ivorian president) had launched curfew.
We ended up having the Sophia airplane land on the plantation, because it was too dangerous to take the road with all these people to San Pedro airport.
We said our goodbyes to all our staff in a wave of tears and emotions, because we had a really close staff, and I know that I will forever miss Mariam, our nanny/cook, who had become a close friend, and just about the only person I really talked to.
Here's a picture of our car and the plane on the plantation's landing strip. 
Here we are all waiting for the last people to arrive. 14 of us left, leaving only 4 other expats on the plantation.

Our evacuation experience took 52 hours. We Took off on the plantation, landed in San Pedro to pick up some other people. Then we landed again in Abidjan, where we would be taking the same small plane to Accra, Ghana. 
The plane was scheduled to leave just after lunch. We all waited in the 'lounge' with the seven kids and five women and two men. 
When we got on the plane again, there appeared to be something wrong with the radio, so out we went again.

We waited another six hours in that sad excuse for a lounge to eventually find out that plane would not be taking us to Ghana. 

So of to the hotel it was, which meant we had to drive through the entire city. We didn't want to take the risk of multiple cars, so all 14 of us with our ton of bags squeezed into the hotel bus.

The morning after we took an Ethiopian plane that came from Monrovia direction Accra.
And finally we were safe!
We spent another day in Ghana, in a hotel, where we ate and changed our clothes and even went for a swim, and in the evening we took another plane first to Frankfurt and then - many security checks later - yet another one to Belgium.

It was quite an experience. 

31 October 2010

The best things happen when you're gone

Of course when you'll be moving, suddenly you get all the good invitations. We've already been invited to two new year's eve parties, but we won't be here.
And now we find out that there will be a new hotel opening in Grand Bereby, by the same owner as the Italian restaurant we have been going to every Sunday for nine months now.
They're even putting a bar on the beach.

Ugh... all the good things happen when we're gone.

26 October 2010


As if I had a sixth sense, the day has come: in a little over a month we'll be leaving Ivory Coast. For good? Who knows... maybe we'll come back in a couple of years. At least here I would want to come back, whereas in Cameroon that wasn't really on the top of my list and I was glad to go.

So how am I feeling? Right now pretty good. Really excited about the prospect and happy to find new dwellings... Also very happy to leave a rather poisonous social situation. But I have to admit it really hurts too.
I have grown to love this country, and its people. I have found my way...
I must admit - in a way - I have settled.

And where it really stings is that we will be leaving Mariam, our nanny/cook. She has been like a second mother to my child and we wee rather close. I don't know how my daughter will cope with leaving here for good.
We have already told her we would be moving to another country and we woudn't be coming back, but that's rather abstract for a two year old. She must aprehend something, because she's very clingy the last couple of weeks...
I dread the day I have to pack her room.

So in a while it will be all boxes again (I've already started, but really in slow motion). And then we'll have a long holiday in Belgium. And then my husband will be leaving us again to go to our new home before us... ugh.

We're not sure of the destination yet, so I'll let you know in due time.

01 October 2010

Sedentary??? Or not?

I don't write here anymore... well, if you're a regular here, you might already know that. There's numerous reasons for this...

I had a conversation with my husband's boss a while back, he is an older man, on his way to retirement and has spent nearly his entire career in Africa. He said he used to keep journals... when he was traveling a lot, and they became pages and pages of text, filled with experiences and sensations. Then he bacame more stable, got to live on plantations... and the writing stopped.

I guess that's what kind of happened with this blog.

On the one hand I got different interests - before this blog was the only hobby I kept, next to some crafting and cooking - now there's the little one and I have a million projects I am working out.
But on the other hand... I have been feeling rather sedentary. Even though I have been living in Ivory Coast for less than two years, it kind of feels like I've seen and experienced everything that the region has to offer.
I've almost finished my house... Time to move, no?

And yet it's not like nothing happens. The last couple of month have been particularly trialing for our family. Our dog probably has epilepsy, we had several hospital trips for the little one (button up the nose, severe fever, dislocated nerve), and I had my own medical scares. And all that was combined with a general unhappiness and an awkward group dynamic on the plantation.

But I don't like to write about this kind of things, they are too days of our lives... So I don't write.

But I bet I'll have a lot to write about soon :)

24 August 2010

The Africa Experience

Like many a foreigner who has lived in present day Africa, this experience leaves us with contradictory emotions.
On the one hand, we can't be leaving here fast enough. We are eager to leave behind the many inconveniences of living in tropical West-Africa: the hours of bumpy roads, the penetrating, nausiating smells, the struggle to provide in ones basic needs, the moisture and mold, the insects and diseases, the insecurity...
Yet on the other hand, we already knows that if the day comes that we will be actually leaving we will be heartbroken and forever long for what we have left. There are things here in Africa I think one can find nowhere else. The fish and seafood and tropical fruits will never taste the same. Never again will we have such devoted personell (if you don't count Jean-Pierre).
On top of that we have come to love African fabrics, their colors and designs who brighten markets and roads and who are different in every country. The possibility of having clothes tailor made for no cost at all. The deserted beaches who seem to be waiting there for nobody but me. The way they approach children. The way they dress up for occasions, making a company party feel like the gala event of the year.

If we ever leave, we will be leaving so much behind. Will we be gettinig as much in return?

26 July 2010

African Summer

We've been back from a four week holiday - of which we spent ten days in Turkey and the rest in Belgium - for a week now. The weather is really amazing.
Apparently they had the wettest rainy season in years, but that passed unnoticed as the most violent days were during our leave.
Last year it hardly rained at all and it was just terribly dry and souring hot.
Now, there's an amazingly fresh breeze ever since we came back and the sun shines brightly, without it being too hot.

As it is school vacation, every day, the roads and pool are filled with children, so my daughter has a lot of interactions. Sometimes, they come over here and spend the afternoon under our 'paillote' colouring and drawing.

27 May 2010

Chocolate, Child labor and Côte d'Ivoire

A while back - ok a long while back - Märy asked me about the child labor question. I have been wanting to answer that a long time now, but I just never got to it.
There has been a lot going on about ethical chocolate and fair trade involving child labor and this specifically in Côte d'Ivoire. (Côte d'Ivoire produces almost half of the world's cocoa)

So here goes:

Yes, Côte d'Ivoire's chocolate plantations probably 'employ' children sometimes. Most African agronomy does in fact.
If you look at this from a Western perspective this might sound shocking, but,

  • African children are much more autonomous than Western children and is is not unthinkable that they decide they want to earn some money by picking some cocoa for which they are paid by the kilo. They might do this for their family, or to have some money of their own. This does not necessarily mean they are being forced to work by their family. 
  • Mothers sometimes have to work, when the father is MIA, or unemployed, or dead or... and - given that there is no daycare or secundary caregiver, or just because the kids want to tag along - she can bring her kids along for work. It can so occur that the kids help their mother by picking up the cocoa buds that fell on the ground. Again, this doesn't mean they are forced to do so.
Maybe at some plantations here in Côte d'Ivoire kids are being forced to work, I cannot account for every single child in Côte d'Ivoire, but, much of this child slavery discourse is just about the Western world imposing its world view on Africa - again. Probably much of it is also about economic benefit and selling newspapers and getting funds for 'developing' nations.
Westerners cringe at the words 'child labor', but it does not mean the same here as it means over there. Moreover, in Belgium, young children babysit for money, or they do chores at home or for neighbors and relatives. Farm children tend to help their parents out a lot too. Is that child labor? Why would this here be any different? 

26 May 2010

Preparing for the holiday

It seems like ages since I've been here. I'm really neglecting this blog lately.
Well, I'm kind of busy just living life really and there hasn't been anything really exiting going on lately, so I didn't quite see the point in bugging you with everyday things. You must understand that to me, if I've stayed on one spot over a year... well everything turns kind of same old same old.

I have been working on an answer to Märy, which I will have up soon (now, maybe if I tell you this I will be forced to post it sometime soon)

I hate staying put this long, (we've been here for one year and three months - but who's counting) especially because I know this is not the place I want to settle... anyway, we kind of decided we're not ready to settle anywhere any time soon, so maybe there will be some changes in our lives in the near future.

Anyway, I just popped in to let everyone know we'll be on holiday from the 16th of June to the 14th of July.


04 April 2010

Making friends

In the comments of one of my recent entries, some of you were wondering how I do it to make friends very time we move, and how I integrate.
I have been wondering about that. I'm not the most outgoing person, character-wize, but I must admit that over these few years, I have learned to open up. To invite people over, to talk to people as I meet them in the supermarket or other random places. Before all the moving and stuff I might not have been so extravert. I did have a lot of random chatter, but that was usually because strangers talked to me (I've always thought I must have that kind of face, you know :) )
The first six months we lived in Cameroun, I have hardly interacted with anyone. By the end of that scope of time, I was really bewildered I could hardly follow a conversation without drifting off in my mind. I was so desperate for social interaction, I would stalk the plumber and the electrician when they came around. So maybe I learned the hard way.
Anyhow, ever since that first period of expat experience, I now try to welcome others as well aspossible, if they are new to plantation life. I try to organise things every so often.
And here in Ivory Coast, I have made friends outside the company as well. But that is still limited, because they imperatively live in San Pedro, which is rather far for us.

So you could say it is a gradual learning process. I can believe not everybody is up for this kind of life, but on the other hand, it is so rich in experiences and encounters, and so unique, I wouldn't want to change it so far.

03 April 2010

Between church and school

There are more churches in this country than schools. Can you imagine that?
Any village even if it only consists of a dozen houses, has their own. If they are a bit larger, they'll also have a mosque and a few christian options. Those churches rise more promptly than mushrooms here.
While people are living in houses mainly built out of bamboo sticks and dirt, the mosques and churches are concrete and brick and windows and paint.
I'm not against religion, to everyone his conviction, but wouldn't these funds be better spent somewhere else?

When I just arrived I met the wife of a Baptist missionary preacher. Their family, and her sister's family lived in San Pedro. The two families combined supported 14 or 15 kids, all with the money of the mission. When I asked her what the mission was doing, I was expecting her to tell me they built schools, wells, hospitals, the lot... Instead, she told me they build churches. I asked her what happened if the church was finished (again expecting her to say they did alfabetising projects, read to children, did information sessions), instead she said: "Well, we just buil one somewhere else".
She also told me she was a nurse and when I asked if she worked here, she simply said it was too dirty here.

02 April 2010

About ants and snakes

The little one is scared of ants... Yes, ants! And yes, I am talking about that same little one that once ate wasps and crickets. Whenever she sees an ant she runs away backwards and shouts "femie, femie, mie!, mie!" Which is   'fourmi' and 'mier' both meaning 'ant', respectively in French and Dutch. She's very apt in making things clear as possible, bilingually speaking. Than she also says they are dangerous. Now I have to admit that they are over a centimeter and when they bite, it hurts, and you have trouble getting them off.
She's, luckily, also scared of snakes. And we see a lot of them here! I personally have seen about five or so. But smallish one and the gardener have seen many many more. Just yesterday there was a viper eating a rog inches away from my door.
Cameroon is supposed to be the snake country of the world, yet I had only seen three snakes over there in the two years we lived there. And we did much more unattentive garden walking over there. In our defense, I have to add we had an enormous garden and only acces to a lawn mower once a week - if we were lucky. Here our garden is significantly smaller and we have bought our own lawnmower (that's so grown-up, don't you think?).
But the snakes here in Ivory Coast don't limit themselves to the garden, they crawl into small spaces at the factory, they are on the streets and dirtroads... It's like Cameroonian snakes were more afraid than the ones over here.

01 April 2010


We have the most amazing dog. It's a boxer and he's now 6 months old. His name is Ion (you can find pictures of him in my previous posts). Having that sweet little creature now makes me smack myslef over the head for having doubted about getting a dog for so long.
I used to have a dog when I was still living at my parent's, he stayed there after I left home (when I went to university, which is a long time ago). He died while I was pregnant with DD. It was a West Highland White Terrier. For those who know little about dogs, that's a rather small white breed with pointy ears and long hair. He also was a marvelous dog, but stubborn and very intelligent (apparently most Terriers are, as I found out a while ago).
But back to Ion. At six months now, he is completely house broken. He goes out in the yard unattached and comes back when we call for him. He is extremely energetic, but not demanding. If I don't go for a walk with him one day, he doesn't get frustrated, and if I do all the better.
When we go out to the beach, he would swim and play with us until he drops.

I had always wanted to get another dog, but we kept putting it off. Wondering what we would do when we went on holiday (well duh, we'll take him with us), how he would cope with the continuous moving, if it wouldn't be too much work...
We've been idiots! If anything that precious dog is the best companion my daughter will ever have. The two of them are like two peas in a pod. You cannot imagine what she puts him through (her latest thing is riding horsie), yet he takes it with calm and patience and moves away if it is too much for him. When she goes out, she calls for him and he comes. He walks next to her, sits when she tells him too... You have to see it to believe it.

We are so happy with that silly dog that we've decided we're getting a second one as soon as he reaches adulthood. I tell you, we're going to end up being the three sheep five dogs two cats, seven goats, chicken and cameleon type family... But I don't mind. (Oh and a Brady Bunch amount of children, of course!)

31 March 2010

7 reasons why I haven't been blogging as much as I should

  1. I'm very busy with other projects. Ok, admitted it's just one project, but t has been taking up most of my time and leaves me none for other things. If it makes you feel better, I'm also neglecting my sewing, making the photo ablums, ... pretty much everything I should get done. (Now I'm stressing myself out)
  2. The Hubby has been learning to fly with a paramotor, which is basically just a lawnmower engine and a parachute, so he has been very proud about that and it has been exiting, I admit, to go and check that out every so often.
  3. I have a very demanding daughter, and there are days she just doesn't want to go with our cook/nanny, so I end op playing with playdough and reading stories the entire day. Don't get me wrong, I equally love both, but it does keep me from blogging here.
  4. I'm trying to get back into sports. Bad excuse since I only started of yoga again yesterday and - since the smallish one was in the room while I was doing that - I ended the course halfway, because she had smeared shea butter all over herself, and me, and was demanding a massage.
  5. I've also been running errands a lot lately. Going to San Pedro and to Grand Bereby to replenish our food stocks that were getting low.
  6. Then aside all that I do try to be social - I mean off the internet in the real world, remember what that's like? - every so often.
  7. Sometimes I do have to take care of the Hubby a little bit too. He also got the thing I was sick with a couple weeks ago, so I had to nurse him a lot lately... And you know how men are when they get sick so, basically that's already a full time job for ya

18 March 2010

between here and there

We usually follow a five month/one month program, which means we spend five months over here in Ivory Coast and one month holidays in Europe. Now I have gotten so frustrated from being in Europe the last couple of times I told my husband I would rather not go any more, or if we do, we spend the entire holiday somewhere other than Belgium.
So this time, we set off with the idea that we'd be here until september... unless for some reason it would be necessary for us to go sooner. Which meant nine months over here.
Now I thought that would make things easier once I was here. You should know normally, about three months in, I get this desire to go back, and all I do really is looking forward to our holiday. And since that holiday is so far away now, I thought that longng would be postponed, more so because I generally really don't like our holidays.

But guess again! We have been here for three months now (what did I tell you) and already I am looking forward to leaving. But looking forward to what exactly? I can hardly blog or read my email over there. I have to run behind the little one all the time - that doesn't bother me, but combined to the fact that I cannot go out because all activities are to far away and I don't drive... It's a recipe to go bananas.
I seriously couldn't tell you... Except I want to do some shopping... If only we could get our webshopping delivered here, there would be no reason whatsoever to go to Belgium every five months any more.

Safe for the shopping. I'm good here. I'm fairly happy most of the time. There's hardly any appeal to go to Belgium, so what is this longing??? I think we have been conditioned by the 5 month system. I think the fact that we know this is not OUR house, makes us not feel like we are living here, just residing. Another thing that makes it equally bad is that we never know when we're moving. We could just as easy be here another six months as another two years. Now how are you supposed to settle in under those conditions?
Over those four years we've been doing the moving game, I never really felt at home in my house. I always did my best to decorate where I live, but it's not the same as when you are there indefinately. There's always those little things you don't do... or hesitate.


I want to shop!!! NOW

Told the husband he needs to find an excuse to go to Abidjan, but he says he has none... grr

16 March 2010

Yay for the virtual world

I just had to share this. If it wasn't for the web... I think I would have gotten sick and tired of being here a while ago. At least since I have internet at home, I can have real conversations about the things that move me with interesting people.
Living in a small community, in a remote part of the world, far far away from civilisation can get very lonely, and even worse, very very boring. But having internet, I can now overcome that problem.
If I feel like shopping, I can go online and browse any type of store I like.
If I want to have a conversation, I can open msn or Facebook and chatter away. Looking for some info or support, just a few simple clicks and off I go. The virtual world is my oyster!

Now, I have to admit, even though I've been online ever since I was 16, I've only really started picking the fruit that is social media... Less then a year ago, I joined Facebook and ever since... no kidding, my life has really changed. (Now I don't want to propagate Facebook, they have serious flaws... but still)
I tapped into a faboulous onlne community of mostly women with the same philosphy of life we live by, and my life hasn't been the same since.

So to those who say internet is bad and doesn't add valuable things to life... you are doing it wrong!

15 March 2010

News from the trenches

By trenches I mean sandy beaches with coconut palms, of course.

So I'm in bed sick with not-malaria. I hope this not-malaria will pass soon, but at least it gives me a stolen moment to blog a little.

It's supposed to be the dry season over here, but it's been raining at least two days a week now... People are really puzzled. Ever since we moved to Africa, it seems as though the seasons are playing tricks on people. With the no-rain year at Ferme Suisse and the six months neverending-rainy season at Mbongo, I think we'll have had it all... It has quite harsh repercussions for crops, this unpredictable weather.

Our gardener has stepped into a spell and ever since he has these weird lesions on his legs. He hasn't been able to come to work. I just hope he'll be ok. Eventhough they all adhere to some religion or other, they're all still animists to the core.

11 March 2010

Not So Lazy Sunday Routine

I've noticed we've been establishing this wonderful routine on Sundays. This is how it goes:
The little girl wakes us up, around 6.30 or 7 in the morning. We put the dog outside for his morning pee and start cooking breakfast. Most often it is scrambled eggs, omelette or pancakes/some juice/fruit and chicoree for me.
We take our time eating breakfast and chatting away. Then we asses the situation.
If both our little critters are very active, we'll go off on a walk (and end up carrying both of them to get back), which last about an hour or so, sometimes we stop by our neighbors' house.
If they are too tired, we will just chill in front of the TV and watch some TV series on DVD until 11.
At 11 or 11.30 we drive to Béréby and have lunch at Jardin d'Italie, mostly pizza and mousse au chocolat. And then we are off to La Baie des Sirènes for the afternoon. We spend our time there swimming with the daughter and the dog (who really likes swimming in the ocean nowadays), building sandcastles, playing in the shower. On most occasions, another family will join us and the kids will play together in the sand.
Those are the most wonderful Sundays, that leave us completely recharged for the week.
What's your routine?

03 March 2010

Stability... for now

The country has stabilized again, for now, since a new government has been established a week ago. At the time all is quiet again, there have been no more marches. People just go on with their daily activities.
I go around San Pedro a lot lately, and am getting to know quite a lot of people. Most of the shops here are owned by women who's husbands are working in the larger companies. Some of them have been here quite a while.
I met a woman today (I had actually met her before, but we only really talked today) who has lived in San Pedro for 12 years now. She owns a little gift and furniture shop. She kept the store open even through the "evenements", and only closed three days!
I went into her shop to buy a doll for DD. I might have to tell you the story behind this: she got a doll for her christmas from her mamie, but it disappeared from the luggage, and I didn't bother to bring my old baby dolls from Belgium. Now she really liked baby dolls,and when we went to Abidjan, that was the first thing she ran to in the toy store. So we decided to buy her one, but cheapskates as we are, we got the cheapest. You can imagine after mothering that baby doll for about an hour, it's arm came off.
Now, three weeks later, that poor doll has no limbs left (some of the dismemberment is to blame on the dog too). So I decided it might be time to get her a better doll.

Meanwhile, little cutie is asking about her mamie and dede a lot, and runs into the back room whenever it is open, to fetch the photoalbum. It really breaks my heart.

22 February 2010

The longest stay

A few weeks from now, we'll be living in this house for a year and a month. Which will at the same time be our longest stay in the same house in six years. And we'll probably add a considerable amount of months to it.
I'm happy to have been here this long and for once to have been able to finish decorating the house. Ok, I'm not quite finished yet, I still have to get some small pieces of furniture and I think I'll have a table and chairs made for the little one. I wanted to upoad some pics from the house, but upon viewing them, I realized I had again changed a whole lot since I took them, so you're going to have to wait until I take some new ones.
Yet still I'm very eager to move on and discover new places. I like Cote d'Ivoire a lot, but it hasn't stolen my heart.

Any frequent movers among my readers? How do you experience that?

20 February 2010

Marches end in violence

Whereas the country was really in an uplifting movement, people are now frustrated and in disagreement with what's going on. There was another discours by the prime minister this week, stating that there was a government had yet to be created and people should remain calm.
No more needed to be said to get people on the streets. Before, all were hopeful and the future looked bright... now, nobody knows what is going to happen and elections seem lightyears away.
We left Abidjan yesterday, to find yet another march in San Pedro. In Gagnoua this week a march had a bloody end, with several deaths after police used live ammo to disperse the demonstrators. You really start feeling the tention all around.

It's sad really, people were so hopeful, and ready to take the step towards a bright future. And more sick of the violence and the status quo.
It must have been a great country once. David met a French woman who had lived here before the war. She said she wept when she saw Cote d'Ivoire after all that time. She told him it was such a safe, modern, nice and beautiful country. You could decide to drive off to an animal park in the middle of the night, safety was not an issue. We are now far far away from that.

As far a sthe plantation is concerned, we're still very much spared from all this. The strike has ended peacefully and all is going back to usual.

17 February 2010


Baptizing L* at La baie des Sirènes
This is taken at the new Italian pizzeria at Bereby. She ate my entire chocolate mousse! I ended up ordering another one.

Trying out the fingerpaint. Approved!

Trouble in paradise

I haven't been on here for a while, because it's been really busy. I see there's some new followers on there, please leave a comment... It's nice to get some feedback. It's kind of freaky to know so many people read my blog and not to know why or what they are thinking. I can assure you that when someone I vaguely know mentions he or she has been following my blog for an extended period of time, without my knowledge... It's a bit weird. So please just take a minute to leave a comment, tell me what you are thinking.

It has been hectic lately. Hubby had some security consultants over to draw up safety and evacuation plans. Ironically, during their stay (last friday) Gbagbo, Côte d'Ivoire's president had a discours on national television in which he dissolved the government and the electoral commission. He demanded a new government was assigned by monday, but we're now wednesday and there's still no change.
This of course means that the elections, which were planned for march (and had already been postponed previous to this, several times) will not take place. This combined with the recurrent failing of the power network is creating a rather tense atmosphere, but so far the situation remains stable.
Meanwhile at the plantation, we are experiencing a strike. So the women and children have been evacuated to San Pedro, as a preventative safety measure which actually means they're at the pool having a company paid holiday hehe). Hubby and I moved on to Abidjan from there. he's still occupied with the safety consultants.
We are in Abidjan until Saturday and hope that by then the situation on the plantation will be resolved.
I think I might take advantage of the premium internet here in Abidjan to get some pics up.

05 February 2010

Trip to Abidjan aftermath

The trip to Abidjan was a bit shorter than we expected. We had been wanting to take the Sophia plane back in the afternoon, but they changed the schedule again and we ended up flying in the morning. So that kind of wrecked our entire shopping. Anyhow, we're already flying back there on Sunday.
We did get to visit V*, which was wonderful after all this time. She's now living in Aboisso. We also did some quick shopping on the road to Bassam, this is a two kilometer long strip of road, with back to back artisanat shops. And prices are quite ok. We're really discovering Abidjan, and it makes me want to visit more of Ivory Coast.

When waiting for the Sophia plane back to San Pedro, I went to the bathroom. Previously, the usual sort of text could be found on the bathroom door. Stating who had been there, who was in love with whom... Yet this time... All text had been replaced with hateful messages against Gbagbo and his regime. Messages enciting violence and hate. It was quite scary, really.

03 February 2010

in Abidjan

Didn't get to blog in San Pedro yesterday, because the power had been down all night and throughout the day over there.
Today, we have Flown to Abidjan, with a kind of sour aftertaste, because we're leaving the dog alone at night for the first time (he'll get walked and played with around the clock during the day though).
Funny anecdote: when smallish one saw the little Sophia plane land, she asked if it was on her Mamie. And when she got on the plane with her daddy - I was getting the luggage - she panicked, thinking I wasn't coming. Sweet kid!
Our little trip to Abidjan started off on the wrong note, first the plane ride took 20 minutes more, so we feared there wouldn't be time to tick of all the boxes on our schedule. As David tried to go and get his drivers licence, they told him he was at the wrong office. (Mind you, he's been trying to get an Ivorian licence for a year now!) It was already lunchtime by then and the daughter was starving so we went to eat somewhere - it turned out to be a pretty crappy cafeteria style place.
We took a quick trip to Cocody after lunch to find the whole artisanat market had vanished... and been turned into a construction site. Luckily the jewellers were still there! :D
And the for the second try to get D's licence. A* had fallen asleep in the car so I decided to just wait in the car the time it took himto go in and do whatever... We ended up waiting for over an hour in the soaring heat. Half an hour in, A* woke up and objected to being confined. So we went out for a walk... that's when total mayhem started! She had found a leaky tap and wanted to play with it. I wasn't prepared to open it for her, so the next half hour she spend crying and screaming.
But then the fingerprinting went swiftly and we even got to go for icecream and some shopping to Cap Sud.

The Sophia airplane was fully booked again, and every time I'm in San Pedro there are more and more people around and in the hotels... It's very strange. Even when we go to La Baie des Sirenes now during the week, there's other people around. We were kind of getting used to the luxury of having everything to ourselves all the time. Oh and there's even a departure hall now in San Pedro airport. It's clean and has airco and - unbelievable - a clean restroom!

Tomorrow we'll be discovering new places as we're off to Aboisso, to see V* again (my neighbour in Cameroon) after what's been more than a year!

Meanwhile I'm thinking of starting a 'things to do in Ivory Coast'-blog.

Until next time,
keep warm!

01 February 2010

elections... developments...

So I'm not quite sure if I had mentioned it, but the elections that were planned for the end of last year never took place... Nobody quite knows when the elections will happen. Prognosis would be march this year... But who knows?
Yet we are noticing quite some change around here. The hotel we visit often during the weekend (La Baie des Sirenes) is being renovated and this weekend the owner had arrived with a fleet of small aircrafts. There's a new restaurant in Bereby that's quite worthwile. (Maybe I'll finally get to post some pics when I go to San Pedro tomorrow)
San Pedro is evolving too. In the last couple of months, two new supermarkets opened and another is being installed. Sophia Airlines and the Sophia hotel were sold and are being completely revamped (Sophia airlines now even has hostesses and a check in counter, unimagineable). La Canelle was sold and is being renovated. And sadly, one of our favourite restaurants, La Langouste, is now closed.


Wow... I'm totally amazed. I hadn't been checking my stats for quite some time now, thinking I was just blogging for me, and the hubby pointed out that it might be worth my while. Seems like there's quite some traffic on here lately, even hit 86 visitors a couple days ago.
Now if you'd all be so kind to let me know you're there very once in a while, that would be very nice.

29 January 2010

Community life

Living on a plantation the way we do means you have to do with the few people around you. Now you have a few options:
You can either exclude yourself totally from community life, and while that may work when you are yourself the expat, and in fact have a job, when you're the wife and you're unable to get a job for whatever the reason, that might become lonely, and eventually very boring.
You can search friends outside the community, but that is not always possible, some countries are very poor security wise and then it's not advised to search outside the plantation for anything, really.
Or you can go with what you have and try to make the best of it. Which ultimately means you'll be befriending people you would probably never meet in normal life (in that I mean, non-plantation, non-expat life). People who differ from you in age, beliefs, way of life, etc... The only point you have in common is that for one reason or another you and they chose to live abroad. And this is where the trouble lies. Now you may be of good faith and try to be the social glue, try to make everybody happy etc... there's always going to be one or more people who do want to join in on the fun, but only on their terms, and who have such poor social skills, they end up sewing disparity wherever they go.

Now obviously, I chose the last option. Learning from my first plantation experince in Cameroon, I swore to myself, if I could help it, nobody would be on a plantation with me and feel lonely, except by choice. And so I try to find out what people like, try to organise social gatherings etc... And yet each and every time I end up with one person not speaking to me.
So I wonder? Is it that hard for other people to make the effort to just to get along with each other? I don't mean everybody has to be best friends, but it doesn't hurt to try not to insult the other people in the community, now does it.
And another thing I'm asking myself: why do so few people realize that when there's something plaging you, it's better to talk it through than to sit on it... Nobody's going to come solve your problems for you.

Until next time

25 January 2010

Aan Mamie en Dede

Mamie en Dede,

Ik heb hier mama mistess haar blog gekaapt om jullie te laten weten dat alles goed gaat. Het is hier nog altijd lekker warm, dus als ik buiten ga om te spelen dan hebben mijn pootjes geen kou en vriest mijn pipi niet vast zoals bij jullie, toen ik daar op vakantie was.
Ik speel nog altijd heel graag met die grote ballen die van de bomen vallen hier, maar ik denk dat het mama mistesske dat niet zo goed verstaat. Elke keer ik er zo een kan pakken, komt ze die afpakken en gooit ze die weg. En ik mag die nog zo vaak terugbrengen om te tonen dat ik daar mee wil spelen, elke keer gooit ze dat weer weg.
Het is wel heel jammer dat ik nu niemand meer heb om op de kop bij te gaan zitten. Maar ik heb het gevonden! 's Nachts kruip ik heel stilletjes in de grote mand waar mama mistess, klein mistesske en baasje in slapen. Dan ga ik op een plaatsje liggen waar ze me niet opmerken. En dan kan ik daar blijven liggen tot 's morgens het licht aangaat en ik iedereen veel likjes kan geven.
Klein mistesske geeft mij altijd de helft van wat zij eet; maar dan is mama misstess weer boos. Ik vind vooral papaya en watermeloen heel lekker, maar brood en gedroogde abrikozen gaan er ook wel in. Mama mistess verstaat niet waarom ik die droge koekjes die ze mij geeft niet meer wil, maar als je eenmaal papaya hebt geproefd, weet je wel beter.
Soms bijt klein mistesske mij, en dan mag ik niet terugbijten. Dat vind ik ook niet leuk, vooral nu ik geen oren meer heb waar ik op mag bijten.
Mama mistess gaat dikwijls met mij wandelen, dan wil ik haar allemaal toffe dingen tonen, maar dan blijft ze staan en moet ik haar weer gaan halen. Echt vreemd, ze doet dat nu s elke keer dat ik ergens naartoe wil.

Nu ga ik stoppen, want anders gaat mistess zien dat ik op de computer geweest ben.
Ik mis jullie heel erg,

Dikke lik

22 January 2010

Life as usual

So we've taken up our life again the way it was... Or should I say a better version of how it was. With the new expat couple and their kids, a lot more things seem to get organized. So much so that I hardly have time to get on the internet. I brought the Sims3 from Belgium, because before leaving I had some spare time and I thought I would use that to play. But spare time is becoming almost non-existing. We've been going to the beach, to San Pedro, doing some shopping, aquagym, making social calls and what not. Yet still when people in Belgium ask me what the hell I do all day long, I manage to come up with no answer whatsoever.
So people, stop asking me what I do all day long. Do I ask you what you do at work all day long? No. I assume you work and that's that, no questions needed. Well, I'm a stay at home expatriate mom. Is it that hard to imagine that I have things to do?
Oops, this started off as a post to say that we're doing fine and life is going it's pace, but I think this is slowly turning into a rant, so I'm going to leave it at this.
Bye for now!

15 January 2010

Bye Bye Mamie and Dede

I'm sitting in the shade overlooking the pool where mamie and the baby are enjoying a swim, behind me the ocean makes that incomparable sound I love so much.
My parent's holiday is coming to an end and their last day will be well spent at La Canelle. They take the Sophia plane to Abidjan at four in the afternoon and continue their journey to Belgium tonight.
We don't get a lot of visitors here, so we've cherished every moment and are very sad their stay is over.
The two and a half weeks they were here have gone by in a blink of an eye and I think I will be very lost the next couple of days. Luckily the plantation is coming to life little by little with three families with young children already living there. Yesterday's drink at our place was a huge success. To make all of you readers drool a little; we had: caviar d'aubergine with pizza sticks, marinated fish, margarita pizza, crab-filled tomatoes, avocado and chicken verrines, toast au foi gras for the salty zakouski's and for the sweet mango biscuit, fruit salad and caramellised pineapple.

Last wednesday I lended my shopping skills again to Cee and I am very proud to say e found all the fabrics we set out to find. She's moving into her new house somewhere in the following weeks, so she was looking for curtain fabrics and had a spent an entire day in Abidjan looking for them, only to end up with nothing because the couldn't make her an invoice. But now with just a few hours on San Pedro's Grand Marché, she's got all curtains, lining, bed throws and even a set of table cloths for a mere 75 euro.

I'm cutting this post short, as I much prefer to float in the pool... Until next time!

Mamie and Dede in CI pics III

Mamie and dede's last visit to La Baie des Sirènes

Left to right, top to bottom: Maryam, mamie, baby, Dede, Koame (the driver), Jean-Pierre (our cleaner/ironer/gardener), Hyppolite (gardener) and Ion (dog)

13 January 2010

Mamie and Dede in CI pics II

Doggy found some camouflage... and got to hide away in the shade while at it.
our super secluded beach. We spent the day without anyone passing

Mamie and Dede in CI pics

This weekend we had a flat tire in the middle of the road to Dawa... And David didn't have the right key to take off the flat. Luckily we did get help.
We took Maryam to San Pedro last week so she could do some shopping with me and show me some of the places I haden't discovered yet. Since we've been back, Aini refuses to stay with Maryam... We're hoping it's just because my parents are here and she thinks it's more fun to be with them...
At Jardin d'Ivoire, Aini enjoying my fruit cocktail, which she emptied... I had to get another
My parents really loved La Baie des Sirènes. We've been there a couple of times during their stay. Probably we will be going one more time tomorrow. Both Aini and Ion are starting to like swimming in the ocean (Ion a little less then Aini).
At La baie des Sirènes
We visited the plantation farm with Aini, Ion and my parents. Ion met another dog and had a fun time playing around.
Luckily Mom and dad got to swin in the pool one day. After this, the filter broke down and we haven't been able to use the pool ever since. We're still hoping it will be fixed soon. As the locals say: "Decouragement n'est pas Ivoirien".
This pic was taken at San Pedro International airport at our arrival. Sweet Ion had been in his cage on the plane for twelve hours the day before and then got to have another hours worth of plane. All the while staying his fun and happy self.
At Wafou in Abidjan.
Dad and Aini in Zaventem Airport.

Found a good internet connexion!

Happy New Year and best wishes to all of you. For this new year I will once again try to be more fruitful on this blog, if you guys in return post some more comments!

So we've been back in Ivory Coast for two and a half weeks now. Internet at home had to be reestablished first and then turned out to be just as crappy as before. But now I have discovered a wifi connexion in San Pedro, so I think this will be my spot from now on and maybe I will be able to get a weekly update on here now.
My parents have joined us on our return and have so far had a splendid holiday. Frankly, I'm wondering if we'll be able to get them on the plane on friday (I think my father is looking for a hiding place). It's going to be very hard having them leave, because we have gotten quite used to having them around. Bare in mind that I had already passed almost two months in Belgium before we came back. I fear it might turn out very lonely again.
As I mentioned, we've been having a great time so far. Going to the beach, having super dinners and lunches... Sadly the plantation's pool is out of order, but sweet hubby has rented us a car (a very crappy one, we already had a lot of car trouble: the back door won't open, windows won't close and we've spent one hour on the road waiting for another car to pick us up because the breaks didn't let go). So we've been getting around visiting beaches, going to San Pedro. If possible a more detailed report will follow later on.
Next post I'll get some pictures up.