I spent a few days in Abidjan with my friend who has a business there, I needed time to come to terms with what had happened on the trip down, although I was dying to get to the orphanage to see the kids.
Spent a Sunday afternoon at his company's staff Christmas party, very funny with one of the guys saying prayers - which consisted of a plea for increased sales and a better profit margin whilst his business partner was quietly puffing on a cigar. It was like something out of a comedy sketch!! We had a great meal of goat, egg salads + rice etc
Unfortunately the next day I fell sick. I got serious stomach cramps every 30mins or so. My friend had given me the keys to his house in Abidjan to stay there whilst he went to see family in Europe. With the cramps getting stronger I decided to get a few taxis to Bassam to stay with my US/Ivorian friends where he tried to insist I see the doctor - but living on vimto, water and pots of charcoal pills I made a good recovery!
Being back in Bassam was great, saw the kids who were in the middle of lunch when I turned up, they do have table manners and arent allowed to leave the table till they've all finished but by sticking my head around the corner of a wall to see them eating I caused mayhem to their lunch as they all scrabbled to get out of their places and knocked me over for a hug!!
I went to their Christmas party two days later and finally managed to speak to the Colonel of the 4eme parachute regiment from France to arrange transport of stuff to Cote d'Ivoire. However he didn't promise anything but at least I know how to go about it now and have his support!
It was strange, so many people saw me in the street and came up to me and said hello and welcome back to Bassam. Even some Rasta guy who came out of a shop to try to get me to buy his tour on the lagoon finally caught up with me, saw my face and apologised saying 'welcome back' instead. One morning I was on the side of the road when a taxi came past with the passenger yelling 'Abidjan' at me - normal occurence but having signalled 'no' to them, it stopped 100m from me. Out of the drivers seat popped Eme a driver I use from the beach (50km further on), came running over to greet me and ask how the trip from Burkina was whilst his passengers were all waiting to continue onto Abidjan!!! Yet again people are so open and welcoming!
I left Bassam for the beach. Found some idiot taxi driver who refused to take me the last 3km, so I asked around for someone else but they were all asking ridiculous prices so I sat on the side of the road with my phone and rang Eme who was 2hrs away on another Abidjan trip. Somehow word spread and a little white C15 van pulled up in front of me with a young guy that I sort of recognised. It was Adama who had been sent to get me, driving back into the village past little Ama's mothers stall I got a big shout of 'welcome back'.
Arsene and his brother Mark are Burkinabe that Ive known for a few years, Adama is their cousin. Ive been sending them clients for their two hotels and when I turned up Arsene told me that I had a room for free and wasnt staying in 'my' beach shack this time - I spent Christmas day with them all. Arsene and a friend of his who has businesses in Abidjan sat me down at the table at 9am on Christmas morning and I asked for a coffee - I got a Jack Daniels!!! After lots of complaining I got my morning coffee and then helped them finish a few bottles of red wine prior to 1pm! I spent the day between the maquis and beach then decided to have a bit of a rest when I heard lots of screaming ...
It turned out a girl had been on the back of the only jet ski on the beach and came off, she was wearing a life jacket luckily. She had been bobbing about near the jet ski whilst the guy riding it was trying to get it re-started; suddenly the rip tide got her and dragged her out to sea - the speed at which she apparently went out was alarming. Being Ivorian she couldnt swim like many there, but she somehow got herself back to shore and out of the rip - she was very very lucky!!!
I left the beach on 26th to go to Ayame and meet a baby who was born at the end of April and named after me! She wasn't there!! However the Mayor of Ayame had called me Christmas night and I'd promised to return. I took a new friend with me for the day, she had flown in from Abuja with her husband and friend on their first visit to Cote d'Ivoire. Unfortunately I'd not thought to remind her about her passport so we had problems with the gendarmes on the way up there who were after money, a wife and a cigarette in that order. I gave them a cigarette and then called the Mayor of Ayame for help!!!
On arrival I got a massive welcome and returned to Lucas' motel. The Mayor told me to be at his house at 5pm; he had organised a Christmas reception for me, cocktails; meal and then back to the village for more partying with all the crowd I had met last year. The Mayor of Ayame re-named me 'Adjoba' , my Agni (Akan, southern CI language) name which everyone there used, took a while to get used to it!!! It means I was born on a Wednesday having googled it, I was born on a Thursday!!
I was stunned by his generosity and worked on a plan with him and the elders to eradicate Ayame of plastic bags which drive me mad. Ive got a few people working on figures to find out the cost of material and thread, to make their own cotton bags and create a little cottage industry here that will be self-funding. The Mayor will make Ayame a 'sachette free-zone' so that everyone will have to use the cotton bags and the plan is to spread this throughout the Sud-Comoe region via him