Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas week

Due to the drama of last week, there isn’t any fuel between here & Abidjan.  The last reserves of diesel are being put into tanks outside the maquis I’m typing this from. People are concerned, no fuel means no supplies, the word around town is ‘famine’ but I hope it won’t come to that. We shall see ...

All well here as before.  It was busy over Christmas, chickens being chased for meals with family arriving from Abidjan and beyond.  For me it was a bit hectic.  The guy in charge of child protection & trafficking at the Conseil Regionale was in Abidjan last week & didn’t get back to Aboisso, the nearest town till Friday.  So finally a meeting was set up for 10am Friday.   E who will be the centre manager & I got a 7 seater down to Aboisso (20km away) to meet our contact and had an productive hour with him, he then took us to see a center built by the govt. a few years ago in Aboisso.

I could have cried, it had never been used; E & I were gutted, the centre was near ‘perfect’ as it was an ideal size although needed some serious renovation due to vandalism but the brick structure & rooves were still intact.  Two villas of 4 bedrooms each with a communal area between them with the ability to house 32 children.  However the negatives were really building up, the area it was in was not ideal, hotbed of Aboisso’s political activity, on a hill in the middle of a growing shantytown and it only had a small plot of land, not even a hectare – someone had started building on the lower part of the land too, none of it was fenced.  If only we could have picked it up & transported it to our future land.  We left our contact & his colleague at an internet cafe to get our document for the mayor printed & bound then drowned our sorrows for half an hour in a maquis.

I went shopping for Christmas presents for my hosts & family; they’ve been so good to me .. supermarket shopping on Christmas Eve in Aboisso is not to be recommended.   The ‘supermarket’ was similar to the one in Bassam, small, crammed full of goods & customers.  I bought my things and asked to have them wrapped, another seriously bad idea, she took well over an hour to wrap 5 presents, I wasn’t allowed to help, I left E in charge of it all to go outside & calm down (where I realised that the air-con in the shop was working despite it feeling horribly hot)

The mayor was due back for Christmas, but didn't return which left me stranded.  I neeed to see him to give him the document & get a confirmation of land donation (& photo’s of the land), it’s annoying as I’d love to head down to the beach to see everyone there & have a swim.  I’m thinking of going off & finding somewhere to swim nearby. I’ve seen photo’s of it but  not sure exactly where along it is & how much snake infested bush I’ll need to go through to get to it – I’ll see how ‘desperate’ I get ... seen a fair few snakes this week!!

Christmas eve evening we stayed in a friend's maquis in town, compared to the previous night when we were in his nightclub the other side of town as there was electricity there whilst town had been plunged into the dark due to a failure somewhere.  I rang a friend who is/was Gbagbo’s transport representative to wish a Happy Christmas.  I was a little worried having talked and read the news on the internet that Goodluck Jonathan (Nigerian Pres) has offered Gbagbo a refuge. She was leaving CI at 6am in the morning on a flight for Abuja & demanded to know where I was; to keep anonimity (despite the friendship) I said 'Aboisso' and the answer was ‘you’ll be fine’.  11 years ago on Christmas Eve there was a coup d’etat here, my brain was in overdrive wondering if something was going to happen again, history almost repeating itself?

We await tomorrow and what the week will bring, but everyone here is generally of the opinion that Gbagbo needs to leave to allow the country to pick up where it left off economically.  If he does go the ‘patriots’ will protest, burn tyres etc for a few days but I very much doubt it will develop any further.  Ghana has threatened to attack CI if any of it’s UN soldiers with UNOCI are ‘harmed’ and most of W.Africa is ready to send forces in to remove Gbagbo.   

The town is still united in it’s anti-war stance as it was during the previous crisis, there have been a few ‘arguments’ over the last few days; gendarmerie refusing to pay tax leaving town this morning loaded up with charcoal, two women fighting over the same man & one of them bit the other and the third one was a minor heated discussion between the taxi drivers!  One thing that makes me laugh, neighbours asking each other in the morning 'How is your President?' ... such a mad & sad situation!

My main worry at the moment are the mozzies who have had a good Christmas from me .. yes, I am taking my Lariam equivalent!!!  But obviously my health insurance is totally invalid, so I cannot afford any accidents!

E left this morning for Abidjan, hope he returned safely & I’m just back from a reception, a lady here went off on a pilgrimage to Fatima (Portugal), Santiago de Compostela & Lourdes ... A deluge of photos on a big screen at her home, over 70 of us there, including the European doctor and endless religious music played full blast; the food wasn’t bad & I had my first glass of wine in a few weeks.  The bottle said it was ‘European’ but it was worth drinking (won’t touch Val Pierre – ‘Ivorian wine’ – actually the dregs from France bottled here!),  I’m glad to be back under my cocoa tree without any religion nearby typing this up!!!

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