Thursday, January 13, 2011

On my way out ...

My hosts nephew got a very deep cut to his foot whilst I was at the coast, aged 10, he's pretty robust but it worried me more & more.  I kept cleaning it but it was deep & needed stitching, eventually I persuaded him to talk to his aunt & uncle to get him to the hospital.  One of the barmen from the maquis came off his motorbike, yet again the medical bag came out.  My friend from Abengourou I'd not seen for 2 years turned up having heard I was there, his wife & family were still at home.  However, he introduced me to a gendarme who also approached me to ask what I could do for him & his cut leg.  My host's maquis became a little clinic for cuts & wounds!!!

Eventually I got a meeting with the Mayor and the project was agreed; I was thrilled, made up for the stress of the last few weeks, waiting & waiting.  The following day I had to leave, time was getting tight, I had a lot to do before leaving Cote d'Ivoire.  But we walked about 4km one way to see the land, which was wonderful.  Some guy who runs a small stall was stunned to see me racing in & grabbing as many plastic sachets of water I could get my hands on for the three of us that had walked there.  We were all very thirsty, hot, dusty & tired!!!

I finally left.  It was horrible leaving, the nephew had tears streaming down his face asking why I had to go .. the girls were the same.  I couldn't say goodbye to my host's wife properly, I was in full flow, crying ... we returned to the maquis to say goodbye to a few others, I selfishly couldn't face saying goodbye to everyone.  A taxi pulled up who'd kept a spare seat for me and asked if I had to go ... Really really difficult time, I didn't want to go, but one of those things, I had to ...

I went as far as Aboisso the first night.  I stayed with my friend from Abengourou who also has a girlfriend in Aboisso ... had a lovely meal together & fell to bed exhausted from the day.  I rose at 5.30am to get the early bus to Abidjan in intrepidation as to whether I was taking on too big a risk.  E was ready to meet me in Abidjan and we had a meeting for C.R.E.E.R in Marcory with a friend of Alpha Blondy's.  Getting off the bus was fine, it all seemed normal, then I started seeing vehicles with guns, a lot more than I'd seen previously; two UN gun-mounted vehicles went haring past me at some lights.  I was glad when I got to the meeting & we were in relative safety inside.  The meeting went well and E & I made our way to Koumassi Remblais, a district of Abidjan that's seen more violence than many this side of the lagoon.  I got to see Marcelline, the reason I'm setting up C.R.E.E.R, she was amazed that I'd made it to see her.  Told me about the 'bad' days when there was fighting outside the gates, tyres & wood being burnt, helicopters circling overhead.  It was wonderful to see she was alright despite all the violence she's witnessed.

We left & headed back to the road out of Abidjan, I was lucky to have E with me, as usual people looked at me strangely being white in CI & on the street, not in a vehicle like the expats.  We both felt some of it was hostile but nothing happened & we managed to get transport quickly out of town again.

I eventually got back to Aboisso after a bit of a scare on the road.  In the middle of a rubber plantation where the road goes through there was a truck on the side of the road.  The driver had seen it, we'd all seen it, just as we approached it at speed we heard a whistle & 5 men in fatigues racing out of the rubber plantation.  It was the military; by the time the driver braked we were 300m down the road.  He got out of the vehicle with his papers in hand, it was the first time I'd seen a whole taxi load of people very, very frightened .. which rubbed off on me a little wondering why they'd almost ambushed us.  The driver came back a bit puzzled as to why they'd stopped us like that, we continued in silence. 

Arriving in Aboissso where my luggage was waiting for me at my friend's maquis, I was offered a quick drink to say goodbye; little did I realise that she'd called my friends who'd driven down to say goodbye again!  I got a minibus finally to Noe & the border to get to Ghana.  Difficult journey, I was torn, didn't want to leave, wanted to help & stay in the country, so much needs doing, so much help ... yet again I had tears in my eyes as I walked through immigration ...

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