Hello Dear Reader! In the midst of Covid, Political Strife, a mass exodus of workers here in America, I hope all is well with you and yours. I am continuing this recap of our time in Africa day by day, as well as I can recall. Due to my other commitments, I have not been able to dedicate time for lengthy recaps but, I vow to continue on with these until the trip has been fully captured.
I last left you with some photos of an amazing wedding. After all the food was sampled, songs sung, well wishes given and celebrations completed, we (The American Contingent) boarded our bus and made our way back to the hotel. I guesstimate the time was appx 6pm.
If you know me, you know I love to eat…#FMF and even after eating a couple plates at the wedding, I knew that I didn’t have my fill…we were going to need to head somewhere else for Dinner. 🤤 Through some negotiation and deliberation, Tawanna picked a Resturaunt named “La Kajazoma”. Of course, I reached out to my friend Alain and his response…well, see our interaction below.
I trust my friends…and his cosign was spot on. The fish, and everything else that I sampled, was a delight to the tastebuds. More importantly, our party of 10+ sat, ate, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company just as much as the food we devoured. The ambiance was….well, you know what? Instead of trying to describe it all, I’ll let the pics do the talking. Another home run selection…and one of the more memorable days that I have enjoyed in some time.
Bellies full, we stopped briefly to take a few pictures and then it was back to the bus…and Hotel. Tomorrow we would head to the beach and visit an eye opening locale which was totally unexpected. Until then…Stay safe and be well!
Hello Dear Reader. It’s been quite the journey so far…and I’m not even halfway done. I have been documenting, in varying detail, our experience here in the motherland.
Today we are in Grand Bassam, enjoying a wonderful day at the beach. It’s a partly cloudy day but, the light has been shining in all of us since we set food on this beautiful continent. I digress, the beach was…Amazing. The surf, however, was amazingly dangerous. I’m not a strong swimmer and looking at how rough those waves were hitting the beach…yea, nah. I don’t think Micheal Phelps would step foot in that water. That said, we were basically chilling in our “gazebos” for a lack of a better term, enjoying the sights and sounds of the shore.
Soon after our arrival, the vendors selling all types of wares, arrived. I posted about it on IG, here’s the screenshot.
Since we were so close, we also visited the Musee National Des Costumes, a small yet informative museum which delved into the meaning behind many of the costumes/ceremonial garb (past and present) worn by different tribes. We also learned about the outright savagery of the enslavers. Comparatively speaking, I can see why descendants of the enslavers want to minimize or “forget” the teaching of what happened in the past. The irony is that they called US savages and defended the inhumanity by leaning on Religion and other fictional narratives. This whole attack on Critical Race is a collective “why you bringing up old shyt?” Aren’t we to “Never Forget” 9/11 or the Holocaust? Asking for a friend.
Ok, off my soapbox…the museum was a treasure. We, fortunately, had an English speaking tour guide who walked us through the museum, explaining the meaning behind each and every exhibit. Even now, thinking back and reviewing the pics, there are so many mixed emotions (a feeling I would experience a lot on this trip).
We left the museum, headed back to the beach and enjoyed the pool, sunset and some late afternoon snacks. Soon, it would be time to return home…punctuated by a group karaoke session led by “The Captain” Keito. Our bus ride to and fro was lit thx to Capt…more on him in a future post. The NEXT post, however, will be about the final wedding In Abidjan. More to come…
Hello Dear Reader! As we move into colder weather, I find myself lamenting our trip to Mother Africa. In my last post, I discussed the delicious meal we had at … Well, after a wonderfully restful evening that comes with a full stomach, I awoke showered and opened up the door to this view…
The juxtaposition of rich and poor is something I will touch on in the future but, this picture encapsulates some of the stark differences. For the sake of brevity. I’ll continue on with one of my wife’s favorite places, the BEACH! 🏖 🏝
Our agenda for the day was a simple one: ahead to the beach, taking a short stop on the way to do a little shopping. As was becoming a regular routine, the US contingent met in the lobby, beach gear in tow, ready to ride.
Here are a few pics of the ride/shops…
While the day was somewhat overcast, Upon arrival at Asoyam Hotel and Grand Bassam, the cool breeze from the sea helped what would have (had the Sun been out) been a really hot day. It also didn’t hurt that the scenery was as picturesque as it gets. So many stories to tell about this day but not enough time. Nevertheless, I want you to take in the sights and enjoy. I’m more than happy to answer any questions but my current schedule is keeping me from being as loquacious as previous posts have been. I DO plan on revisiting these posts in the future with additional detail so, don’t abandon me just yet.
Part 2 will dive into an unexpected treasure that we stumbled upon. Until next time…enjoy the pics.
“If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance.” – African Proverb
The union of families at a wedding is a privilege to bear witness to. Laughter, dancing and outstanding food are universal languages…and the universe laughed, danced and sang with us that day. I feel fortunate and blessed to have attended. Truly. I lament that I don’t have pics of the partying…or the food. I was too busy enjoying myself and eating. (There’s a longer story about my food experience that I will tell someday). Some weddings are for the books, this one was for the stars. Not many words but if a picture is worth a thousand…here’s a few.
“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero, philosopher and statesman.
These updates are important to me, but they have to be shorter. When it comes to my legacy, there are words, wisdom, and wealth that I would like to leave behind. I have found that sincerely and actively working on one’s self, health and wealth is a road that is truly time consuming but, makes the fruit that much sweeter. Thus, these blog posts have suffered. More frequent, and shorter posts Inbound. When I can, however, I’ll come back and fill in more details to some of these older posts. I don’t have that kind of time now. Until then Dr. Be well…
Hi Dear Reader! Back like I never left…That’s a lie, it’s been a minute. How have things been for you? Well, this is a quick post. More of a lil rant…skip it if you like…I need to get some things off my chest.
Hurricane Ida – So as you know, the northeast experienced a hurricane which flooded many major cities. Philadelphia is no exception. For the first time in my lifetime, a major highway was completely inundated with water. In the video below, the water is at least 20 feet deep via the Schuylkill Expressway. As this is a drive I take daily to work, seeing it completely underwater was terrifying…but also awe-inspiring.
What I can’t understand, is people. There were folks doing backflips into the inundated expressway…tubing, etc. You can’t make this sh*t up. Considering the possible chemical runoff from the manufacturing plants upstream…this ish is just…asinine to me. I mean, the river HAS gotten better over the years but, yeeesh! I guess there is always one idiot.
Speaking of idiots…Warning: Explicit language included in the video below.
Crate Challenge – What…in…the…whole…uckf is wrong with people? I guess life isn’t challenging enough huh? Seriously. I try not to be too critical of my people but, cmon y’all…this is foolishness from ALL angles. What is the world coming to?
Covid – Taking the vaccine is a choice. I begrudge no one for their choices, despite what I believe. There are conspiracy theories about the rationale behind the push to get vaccinated and well, you have to do what is best for you and your family. I know people that have died from this deadly virus. Not sure why we are arguing about masks tho. 🤷🏾♂️ Politicalization of the Pandemic hasn’t helped. One can’t help but be frustrated. At what? Depends on what you believe.
I’ll be getting back to the Africa Trip soon enough. Life has been busier than it has been in some time these past few months. I’m eager to get to some level of normalcy…which will not be “normal” comparatively speaking. The “new” normal is here. Either you adjust…or you don’t. I’m adjusting…Be safe out there y’all. I’ll be back as soon as my schedule allows.
Anyone here pissed at what’s happening at the border? I’m disgusted.
Welcome back dear readers! I hope that this reaches you in good health and spirits. It’s been quite the journey so far but, today is one of the main reasons that we are here in Africa. This is the second of three weddings that will be covered (The first was a Justice of the Peace equivalent which I didn’t attend so, I don’t have much input.). The wedding that I will be covering today is going to require some detail so, please bear with me…it may be a little lengthy. You’ve been warned.
I’ve been to countless American weddings. From remote destination weddings to my own…which, I have to say, is still one of the best weddings I have ever been a part of. (S/O Wifey!). I have even been witness to other cultural weddings, same sex weddings…etc. The point is, I know weddings…I am a qualified wedding connoisseur if you will. That said, nothing prepared me for the wedding of Mr. & Mrs. Guy Duo.
Up to this point, our curated stay in Africa has provided many amazing memories, I’ve worked to capture the highlights via this blog. I’ll leave it up to you to decide how informative it has been so far. That said, today?…wedding day? Even without any preconceived notions or expectations, I wasn’t reeeeadyyyyyy! Of many highlights in Abidjan, this was the brightest, for multiple reasons. A previous post left us at the mall…Let’s get to it.
After the very short stint at the mall (See previous post) we headed to the locale of the wedding. Upon arriving, it was immediately clear that this was going to be quite celebration. I’m sure that I have mentioned how much I appreciate my African brothers and sisters but, today took it to another level. As we got off the bus, we were greeted by young women (The grooms nieces?) who were dressed in traditional African garb. They were also adorned with traditional makeup which consisted of white circles painted on their face and arms. As we passed the gated entrance, We walked in to smiles, greetings and waves from the guests who were already there. Past the initial guests who greeted us, the entryway led to the open backyard, which was now adorned with white tents and chairs. It was still early so, there weren’t a LOT of people there but, we were a +50 so, needless to say the space wasn’t sparse for long. We were led to and seated around back where the family tents were located.
The best way that I can describe how i was feeling is…that feeling you have right as you sit down to see your favorite artist in concert. You have an idea of what you are about to experience but, there is an unknown factor that leaves you with abated excitement and anticipation.
Just as importantly, there was an amazing smell of cooking food. I smelled some fish, which is my favorite dish, and spices in the air. Someone was throwing DOWN!…and whatever they were making, I HAD to be a part of. FatManFred was NOT going to waste the opportunity to taste even more traditional African food, Believe DAT! 😏🤤
At this point, I wondered where MY wife was. After talking to a couple people, I was told (In so many words) that they were “in the house for a ceremony” and was encouraged to have a seat in our area. Not in a curt way but, in hindsight it was more of a “you’re going to be here for a WHILE Sir, sit yo azz down and relax.”. So, I texted my wife, drank some water since the food wasn’t ready yet and applied copious amounts of bug spray.
I would later find out, as the guests sat and waited, the families were inside carrying out African traditions. There was a formal greeting of the families by the elders, an exchanging of gifts and a game of “who is my wife” played by the bridesmaids on the husband. With this game, The bridesmaids would take turns being completely covered in fabric. They would be brought to Guy and he would have to determine if it was his wife or not. Rumor has it, he was NOT up (“where is my WIFE”) for the games…at all. I hear that there was only one women covered, usually it’s 3 or 4…lol. I only have a few pics from inside the house but, it looked like a good time. Thank you to the group chat for the extra pictures!
Family and friends of the groom had been consistently trickling in. It was now 1pm. As more people began to arrive, one of the multiple MC’s for the evening, used his Mic to began salutations for both families. He spoke in both English, French and the local language. He introduced the families, thanked us for being there, told a few jokes and generally kept the crowd entertained while the music played.
I’m not gonna hold you, I was STARVING at this point and as each prepared tray was setup, I made sure that my tactically positioned seat RIGHT NEXT to the food area was secure. After 3 hours, I wasn’t HANGRY, but the hunger contractions felt like they would be arriving at any minute. Yea, I was hungry AF.
The food. Sitting so close…so close…I was still hungry…and the food was literally RIGHT behind me…
As more and more people arrived, there was eventually a woman who I would eventually recognize as the Master of Ceremonies appeared. With he backdrop of the music, played by the music selector (“DJ, COMMAND THE TUNES!!!!”) she walked around with a mic, dancing, singing, cracking jokes, etc. She spoke in the native language of the land but, popped a few English lines in every now and then…usually with a wink 😉. She was a true master of her craft and I was enraptured. It’s amazing to watch someone control the crowd so effortlessly. She definitely warmed the crowd up.
Soon enough, she broke into a song which precipitated the families of the bride and groom taking their seats. Each member of the American family was lead to their seats by the young women of the Duo family. Might I add, they (The American and Duo women) were decorated in ornate circular paintings on their face and arms. I wish I would have taken more pics but, if you look, you will see white paint on the arms and faces of some of the women. Also of note, as you look at some of the pics below, you will also see the women and men wearing outfits from a traditional African garb. Look for the striped fits. I covered this in a previous post but the term for the garb is called ****** When my wife came out, all decked out and adorned with the same paintings/garb…well, I forgot all about my hunger…
Still no sign of the bride and groom but, if the events leading up to the wedding party exiting the house were any indicator, I highly doubted that they would be casually walking out talking about, “we married y’all”.
The Mrs looked hot, figuratively and literally. As she walked over to the “Bride” tent I gave her some water and asked (maybe a lil exasperatedly) “what were they doing in there? Why it took so long? Etc etc.” Yall have to forgive me y’all, I was all the way delusional from hunger by this point…lol. But, In a look that us husbands know so well, let’s call it a glare, I knew that I was asking the WRONG questions at the wrong time. “Well, you look amazing!” Was the follow up…she smiled. Disaster avoided. I clean up nice from time to time 😉
At 1:39PM, the time we were waiting for had finally arrived. My songstress/comedian/MC/host made the announcement and from the front of the house, Mr. & Mrs Douo made their way with a crowd of well wishers, from the front of the house to the back where the special area for the bride and broom awaited. The King and Queen have Arrived!! There were tears, there were cheers, there was dancing…it was awesome.
There is so much more to say but, I’ll save it for the next post. What I WILL say in closing is that I have never seen Kisha more beautiful and happy. She looked absolutely AMAZING! There is a special radiance to a bride on her wedding day and well, she was glowing like Bruce Leroy in the Last Dragon…lol. All jokes aside, there is plenty more to this wedding that I’ll get to in the next post. Trust me, I’m only JUST getting started! Next time, dear reader, next time…
Travel Tip: Do your best to respect the culture and people of the land you are visiting. As Americans, we are so spoiled…people around the world live different lives and have vastly different cultures than we do. Check your privileges at the door and Be Humble. When in Rome…
Hello Dear Readers. How have you been? Staying safe? I pray that this reaches you in amazing spirits and that you have been enjoying life to the fullest. I’m taking a quick moment to talk about an epiphany that crossed my mind recently.
In my household, the Mrs. does most of the planning for our trips. Thailand, Italy, France…she planned it all. I can recall the nights she stayed up late researching the best places to visit, both on and off the beaten path. In short, the effort it takes to plan a trip is not insignificant. Some of you can definitely relate, amirite? My insight into the effort it takes to plan a GOOD trip makes my appreciation for our trip to Africa…and more specifically, Travel Deeper Inc. that much more meaningful.
Think about it. Over fifty people, all traveling from different parts of the states, had to be accommodated. This included: Airfare, Transportation, Security, Lodgings, Activities, and most importantly, FOOD, for 50+ people over the course of over fourteen days! I’m not even gonna lie y’all. If this was up to ME?! Maaan listen…I can plan a trip for a family…but 50 people?! The anxiety alone would have me paralyzed.
Thanks to Travel Deeper Inc. the anxiety-less trip went off without a hitch. We flew from NY to Paris…Paris to Abidjan…Abidjan to Senegal…Senegal back to NY. No complaints, no problem, all smiles. Every day was an adventure, eventful…but more importantly UNEVENTFUL from an “issues” perspective. If you travel often, or not, there is invariably some kind of unexpected/planned issue that rears it’s annoying head. For us, and this trip, there were NONE. The accommodations were top notch, every meal was delicious (if you know me, you know that food was/is a top priority for me), we travelled to locales, in both countries, that were on and off the beaten path. There was smiles, tears, laughs, singing, dancing and awe inspiring stories and scenery. We were treated like royalty. And our tour guides? Well, let’s just say we felt like long lost family who just came home. We didn’t FEEL like tourists. Not sure I can pay a higher compliment than that. 🥰
So, what does the Travel Deeper Inc. mean for you? Well, you’ll have to reach out to them for an expertly crafted trip. 😏 For us, it was a bespoke experience that completely eliminated the headaches associated with less than elite planning. Our curated trip for 50 felt like a trip for 2. It went so well, actually, that it inspired this blog: My attempt to capture the “experience” through words, pictures and videos. I’m sure this trip would not have been as life changing as it was if they were not involved in the planning.
I can’t wait to return and experience the adventures that the next trip is sure to bring!
Travel Tip: If you are curious and/or would like to plan a trip to the West Coast of Africa, do yourself a favor…Contact Travel Deeper Inc.
It’s been a minute dear reader. Did ya miss me? With all the Fires, Viruses, Political craziness going on, my focus has been diverted away from writing and more on Living and Planning. You know the saying, “those that fail to plan, plan to fail.”. Well, plenty of plans and preparations are in place for the future! Enough about that…for now. Now that I DO have a few minutes to write, let’s get back to the topic at hand. Who wants to read about a wedding? Well, this isn’t the post! This is the PRECURSOR to the wedding post. (Which will be coming in a few days…)
Today, the Traditional African wedding is to take place. In a previous post, I spoke of traveling to Guy’s uncles’ house for a “meet and greet” which I still feel honored to have been a part of. Today, we will travel back to his home, in a more formal capacity, to celebrate the Union of these families. Note: Since I was not IN the wedding, there may be some details that change over time. I’m writing this purely as a bystander/witness so, some of the details will be updated as details are clarified. And sicne this ISN’T the wedding post, here’s a sneak peek pic to satiate your curiosity…
The day began early…at least for me. As part of the bridesmaid party, Tawanna had to get up early as the bridesmaids needed to travel with Kisha to the location in order to get her ready. The “Getting ready” part takes hours…not because they needed that much time to help the bride get dressed/makeup but because there are multiple ceremonies which were to happen inside the home, between the families (the inner circles of each family) that are not rushed. In my next post, I will try my best to discuss those traditions but, it is going to take a little time because I want to speak to the bride and my wife about them to gain some additional perspective and insight.
I traveled down to get some breakfast…my usual (Ginger Juice, Omelet, Potatoes, fresh fruit, and a slice of a baguette. Yum. Properly fed, I headed back to the room to shower, iron my shirt, and make the final preparations for the day which included extra bug spray, some gum, and some other necessities. I also played a song that came out last year but started to gain some steam on the radio…
Our buses were scheduled to leave at 9:30 so I headed downstairs at 9 to a lobby buzzing with activity. We were all, for good reason, very excited. As a bonus, the family of the bride and bridesmaids all had on traditional African Ceremonial Garb (Aso Ebi). Each family member that appeared elicited some applause, cheers, or praise at their outfits. Speaking of fits…I was wearing an all-white linen suit with a blue African Print shirt given to me by Guy. I was looking good…but, do I have any pics on my phone? No. *One slow tear just rolled down my left cheek*
Self effusive praise aside, we boarded the buses, ready for what the day would bring. As I had already traveled to the location days before, I knew that the ride would take about 30 minutes or so. Well, I was wrong. For one, when we first traveled to the uncle’s home, we were already in the area when we stopped by. Besides, you know the saying about the time when you’re having fun. That initial visit (and day) was one fast wonderful blur. Today…I found myself thinking “I am in Africa for an African wedding. How blessed am I?”. After about 30 minutes on the bus, looking out the window, snapping a few pictures, I started thinking “Are we there yet?”. Well, No.
Apparently, the initial traditional ceremony, the one that needs further clarification, was taking longer than expected..which was to be expected considering the language barrier. So, the suggestion was for us to detour to a local mall in order to stretch our legs and well…do what Americans do in malls. Spend money, peruse the wares and use the bathroom.
10 minutes away from our destination, the mall was a perfect place to kill time. After some initial negotiation with the mall security (Read: Paying the Mall security some money to allow us to park our buses in a special area) the more adventurous of us, disembarked to take a stroll around the mall…Cosmos Yopougon.
With less than 50 stores, this mall wasn’t huge. It was modern, “Westernized” and sparkling clean. What it lacked in size, it gained in hospitality. Many of the patrons and shop employees smiled, spoke, and encouraged us to come in and have a look. I take it that we didn’t necessarily “blend in” as we were all dressed to the nines. Most of us were dressed in traditional African attire so, I guess it was the English that gave us away? While I WAS a tourist, I didn’t want to LOOK the stereotypical part any more than necessary. Here is a link to some stock pictures.
Nevertheless, we stayed for close to 30 minutes before it was time to head to the ceremony. A ceremony that I will cover in the next post. Until then, dear reader, thank you for your time.
Travel Tip: Bring comfortable footwear. We did a LOT of walking in Africa so, I made sure that I packed my most comfortable shoes, sneakers, and sandals. Your feet will thank you.
Welcome Back dear reader. Tonight, the entire Africa Contingent will be meeting up. Nearly everyone from the American Crew have arrived at the Sofitel. The plan? To meet up at 7:30 pm for Dinner and a celebration. It’s still morning tho, let’s talk about breakfast 1st…
Like most higher end hotels, the Breakfast at Sofitel was a mix of self serve, buffet style, covered containers. The offerings contained a multitude of hot and cold foods, veggies, fruits and juices. There were also Bread and Omelet stations of which I took full advantage of. The “Omelet Lady” and I knew each other well by the time we left. I would walk in, give the familiar black nod, and in minutes she had me good to go. Also of note was the variety of juices available for consumption. In particular, the Ginger juice was my favorite as I am a Ginger Ale/Beer kind of guy. There weren’t too many breakfast pics but here’s a few to give you an idea…Ironically enough, these are from our first and last day at the hotel. Had I thought about it, I would have taken more. Oh well. 🤷🏾
After a day of relaxing and some wandering around the hotel grounds, it was time for the Par-Tay!!! The USA crew all met in the lobby as we waited for our transportation. The Mrs was looking especially scrumptious. 😍
In addition to this night being the 1st real “Get together” amongst the USA crew, this night was also special because it was Guy’s birthday!!! If I know NOTHING else about Kisha’s family and friends, I know that we know how to Turn UP!!! And the night was definitely “turnt”!
Once our transports (Two 30 person autobus) arrived, we boarded and took a quick 5 minute drive to our destination: The Adoumin Beach Resort.
Another thing about Abidjan… it is LIVELY at night! There were just as many people out on the streets tonight night as there were earlier today! Most, if not all, of the stores were still open for business. Someone told me that this is the “New York of Ivory Coast”. I believe it. Does this city ever sleep? As I would find out in a few days, No.
No less than 3 minutes after we arrived to the indoor/outdoor venue, it started raining. 🌧🤦🏾♂️SMH. Nevertheless, the house band kept playing (under the tent) and our group found different (covered) areas of the space to occupy. Thankfully, there was PLENTY of space to dance, eat, relax, eat…lol. The libations were paid for and the mouthwatering smell of cooked food wafted throughout the area. I’m an eater more than a drinker so, I waited with abated breath for the vittles. In the meantime, there were plenty of pics taken. I even got one with the Bride to Be! How beautiful is SHE?! Wait till ya’ll see the wedding pics…
ALSO, Notice she has bug spray in her hand…You need copious amounts of bug spray/lotion y’all. (Just another FYI).
To the delight of all, the rain dispersed after 20 minutes or so. Once the food was served, it did not disappoint. I apologize that there aren’t a lot of pics but my mind was on food AND on helping to ensure that Kisha and Guy were taking the time to take it all in. I didn’t want them Hosting more than being celebrated. Besides, I may have eaten my food faster than it took for me to make my plate. #Judgeyaself and Be thankful for a pic…lol. #FMF. As a bonus Alain and his beautiful wife, Valèrie, were able to join us! Life is good!
Guests ate, danced and drank the night away. Tomorrow was the 1st of 3 weddings so, the Mrs. and I knew we had to get back to the hotel soon. Before Alain and Valerie drove us back, there was a Celebration to get to…
It’s Guy’s Birthday! As he sat next to his soon to be American family, a small birthday cake was presented. We sang 3 birthday songs: “Happy Birthday” in French? English and if you are a Black American, the Stevie Wonder version is as normalized as the Black National Anthem at NFL games will become. There was even a rare Guy smile! Although, it was not captured by this non professional photographer, I saw it with my own eyes. This was a great evening.
Tomorrow is the traditional African wedding and well, there is a lot so, I may have to break it down into sections. Here’s a sneak peek! Remember that smile that almost never happens? Look at this man smile at his wife. Yo. Love is something amazing and should be cherished. I’ll get to the next post soon. Until then dear reader, stay safe and cherish Love!!!
Hello Dear Reader. Thank you for taking this journey back to Africa with me…dispersed in short installments. I have been detailing my experience from day to day but realized that, it may be easier to post smaller updates. You can expect a picture, a song, and a recap for all posts moving forward. This is the 3rd part of Day 4. Jay’s.
Jay’s has strong drinks and some of the best food that Abidjan has to offer. This is one of Alain’s spots so, when he offered to head here for a late drink and a bite to eat, we didn’t think twice. YES! #FMF. After settling on a time, Alain came to pick us up and off we went. The potent scent of bug spray and cologne followed me out of the Sofitel lobby and into the waiting car.
In the 20-ish minute ride to Jay’s, Alain gave us some additional information about Côte d’Ivoire. From the political unrest and bombings that occurred nearly two decades ago, to the Ex-President Gbagbo, who just returned home from a 10 year exile.
Alain was a wealth of information about Adidjan and Côte d’Ivoire. We talked about his upbringing and the path that led him to the US, a story I had never heard.
Upon arriving at Jay’s, located in downtown Abidjan, we choose one of the outdoor seating areas and ordered our drinks. The owner (Jay) is a friend of Alains so, he stopped over to talk to us briefly, gave us complimentary drinks and made us feel very very welcome. One of the things that I noticed, is upon hearing we are African-Americans, “Welcome Home” was a saying many of our African brothers and sisters greeted us with. I still smile at the thought, “Home”.
My food was (you guessed it) Seafood. 😍🤤 There is something about the mix/usage of spices there…hard to explain but, the word Amazing will be used alot in my posts. Since I ate earlier the drink and appetizer shrimp…or “Lambas” was all I had. Alain had the Steak and Tawanna the burger. Ever have food so good that no one talks and all you hear are the sounds of food being devoured? Yup…our food was 10/10. Another #FMFRecommendation.
We sat, ate, reminisced and discussed Africa and her future. One of the more interesting aspects of the conversation centered around the currency (CFA) used in all of the African countries which were colonized by the French. This deserves its own post and I will do so soon.
Travel Tip: Speaking of money, we tipped 15-20%everywhere we went. Apparently, from some of the conversations that I’ve had, Africans love Black Americans because we tip, and tip well. This is one stereotype that I not only subscribe to, but encourage. #ItIsWhatItIs.
After dinner, we thanked Jay for the amazing hospitality, and Alain took us home via the scenic route. We drove by his childhood home and school. Slowly passed the French Embassy where, if you looked close, even at night, the black soot marks and tell tale signs of conflict was present. This may sound a bit melodramatic but, I was a little chocked up in the front seat as Alain told us of the history, conflict and struggle of a people STILL fighting for freedom. There was also a sense of pride in knowing that no matter the struggle, we FIGHT. We were never docile or passive in our captivity and the method/means to control and subjugate are just as dastardly now as they every were….albeit in a different fashion. Trust me dear reader, I have ALOT to say. If you are patient with me, you will learn a thing or two about a thing or three.
Until the next post… “Izza Birthday!” be safe and well. ~Raomel