Sunday, January 3, 2010

Two New Years!

I left Ayame for Assouinde beaches again much to everyone's disgust in Ayame! They wanted me to spend New Years with them but I'd promised the gang in Assouinde that I'd return, plus I spent New Years in Ayame last year!

So New Years was a fairly quiet affair till the early hours. Stupidly Mino a Lebanese/Spanish friend and I got put to work by Arsene to sell tickets to his party on the beach in front of his hotel .. So the two of us celebrated on our own at a little table prior to the entrance until 3am getting the staff to bring us drinks whilst we sold tickets to juvenile Lebanese kids. These kids were completely drunk and tearing up and down through the coconut trees on quads and their parents vehicles, one Mercedes and a 4x4 met with coconut trees on separate incidents that night and were written off!!!

Mino was sharing a room at Jardin D'Eden, Arsene's hotel, with another couple and the DJ who didn't turn up till after midnight. I was heading back to my pailotte (beach shack) to sleep to then discover that a whole family had managed to get in and were squatting in it! I ended up on a beach lounger on the shore watching the remains of the fires along the shore that light up the coast of the Cote d'Ivoire from Ghana to Liberia. We had three such bonfires in front of the hotel & my beach shack - I watched the sun come up over the Atlantic, a lovely start to the New Year. Then went for a dip before claiming my beach shack again for an hours sleep only to be disturbed by the guardian waking me wanting to do some work on it!!!

I headed back to Ayame on 2nd January for the second party, the Mayor's wife is from a village 8km away and has a successful maquis (bar) there. Originally I didnt know exactly which village it was in and Marcel was offering me a lift there on the back of a scooter at 10pm. From my past experience of night time driving being on the back of a scooter without a helmet didnt exactly go down well with me ... So I scoured Ayame (population of 14,000- 60% unemployment) for a vehicle, I eventually discovered Marcel's older brother had returned from his taxi duties with a minibus so begged him to drive me there.

On arrival I discovered that I'd been put next to the mayor as the token 'blanche' on his table next to a few others who I'd met at the Christmas reception and a few had come from Abidjan!. The mayor made me dance which of course went down too well and I had trouble getting back to my table being held hostage on the dance floor for 15mins or so!!! I fell asleep very shortly afterwards in a comfortable white plastic chair till Philippe drove me back to Ayame with his wife!

I left the next day with Philippe and his wife for Abidjan and got back to my friends house where the maids aunt, who works next door, tutted about my arrival as the house hadn't been cleaned since I'd left. She soon had her niece show up who I gave a ton of dirty laundry to do as well!!! Debra had malaria over Xmas/new year apparently - Im not so sure, after lots of exchanges about her lovely new hair do!!!

So I spent some time working, using my friends office in Angre, being looked after by the guys there and his business partner's wife who is their administrator. Interestingly I found that my neighbour in the compound is a Libyan diplomat and having postponed twice I went for dinner with him, I was shocked by the with all the wine & beer he'd bought!

Two days later I was invited by my BBC friend and his wife to eat at her wonderful new restaurant in Abobo. We were joined by the new Reuters guy who had only been here a fortnight having just spent the last two years in Baghdad thinks its complete paradise in comparison! We had a long interesting discussion on W.African politics and the role France plays here ... or stirs might be more to the point!

Essentially my days in Abidjan were spent working and catching up with friends in the evenings. I was very fortunate to have a base there this time and got to know Abijdan a little better.

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