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!)