Ivory Coast Culture Monday August 7, 2006, 6:35 AM Banoua Ivory Coast
Interesting how a culture desires to force me down a path.
What is extremely annoying is when I as for a Hotel in any country and instantly the locals send me to the 5 Star Hotels they would never live in except to get married. They assume, and they have learned, foreigners do not live like they do, they are special, and they have special housing.
When, I ask for a Hotel, I say the price I want, if I do not say the price, they think only exclusive. I am in Banoua, just about one hour East of Bassam as you would travel in a station wagon taxi here.
I wanted to live near the Gare or Bus Station for a quick in and quick out of city, I am just here, or thought I was here only to use the internet. Hard to say now as I am a little immersed in the culture. I am thinking I need a two-day minimum policy for cities, not possible to learn a city in an overnight stopover, and two days is just pissing into the wind. However, better than one day by far.
I asked for the Internet, I should say, - Cyber Café - However, I am learning, and a young man of 20 finally understood the word Internet, then he and his sister walked me to what was a closed Internet Café. I started asking about Hotels and they took me to the same one I already turned down, then the second choice they had, I accepted. I am annoyed; there I just made a jump from 5 dollars per night to 20 dollars. It is definitely not local fare; it is tourist fare or wanna be Ivory Coast rich fare. I feel the tariff of a room is how the upper class guarantees they stay away from the lower classes.
I may be wrong on my idea of wanting to be in the center of a city, or my normal decision to be in the center of an old part of a city may need altered a little. What I need is an excuse to walk through a normal lower neighborhood on a regular basis until the locals get brave enough to start talking to me. In the center of the cities, here is the hawkers and the mockers, the social group who wishes to point and influence the others. On the fringes, in the small houses are the children who wish to enjoy life? The older men are great, the young bucks have watched MTV a little too much or the Ivory Coast version. The girls are flirtatious; they are an easy lead in to meeting the people.
There is a nice Gentlemen that is somehow part of the owners family to the Hotel Vallee where I am staying, paying 10,000 CFA per night. The hotel is nice and the young man wishes to practice his English. He then proceeds to introduce and also keep me away from sitting around chatting up the more streetwise girls. He has a relative who is living in Georgia, just moved to Florida, and talks very good English.
The man is polite, well educated, and is in love and not in love with his culture and country at the same time.
I enjoy learning about cultures; I am in the West African, Christian, Black Culture that is also been imported to the USA by slavery. There attitudes between the black persons of the USA and the black persons of Ivory Coast are radically different.
Anger and hate are learned, mean spiritedness is learned, it has to be tolerated by peers to exist. Anger in the American Black person is rampant, encouraged, and for sure not stopped by the other Blacks. Here it is stopped, not tolerated and nice.
I had a young man more or less attack me in the streets close to the bus station of Banoua. He, I am told was on drugs. He did this or wanted to do this intimidation thingy, by looking at me, seeing if I backed down. Backing down from minor problems is EXTREMELY dangerous. It gives permission to every bully on the block to take his or her turn.
Therefore, this young drugged kid, maybe about 20 years old. Stands in front of me, and starts reaching, and then banking over my front large backpack. I have both a front and a back bag. He was sort stabbing his hand at my face. I grabbed it quickly, easy to do; he was maybe drunk like, and was not so quick. However, he was tall enough to be annoying. I was tired, hot, not in the mood for idiots in the street, really wanted to clobber him for fun. Hitting or hurting locals is not a good way to make friends and be safe in a city. The locals were gathering it was become a sideshow; I was there long enough that the Military Checkpoint people or any type of police officer could have come and helped. No police to be found. However, as is the custom and a great custom in the normal countries on the planet. The locals know they have to protect the group. A man walked between the boy, and me then I started to walk away as he instructed. The boy came running as soon as it looked like the man was going to leave me, then another man, the first man and a few others started to corral the boy. I am not sure what finally happened to me, however a very large man walked with me for about 50 yards, I said thank you and he left.
The two men are what I think of as Heroes in the world. Neither had any desire to talk to me, did not try to talk with me. They seen a job that needed to be done and did it, a person needed help, and they helped. Not because they wanted to, but because it needed done. I was able to fend off this boy easy enough, but the weak of the society would not like, if a strong white male clobbered one of their weaker members. A person will never win by doing this; it is only at the end, when there is no alternative but to fight. If I had gotten into an actual fight, I would have got on the next station wagon and went to Aboisso again, therefore by pure mile stopping the group cultural mentality. There is a big person, little guy, cannot win world. The big righteous person is never right in the minds of the weaker. People are afraid of might, sometimes when the might is used to help, they love it, but when a person uses might to strongly it alienate people.
I am not here to love these people, I am here to enjoy these people, share their culture and enjoy myself. I feel zero compulsion to make them feel happy or in love with me, I will respect them and I demand respect, it keeps me safe.
When I get the eyes, the look, the who is in charge look, I try to give the push look, say hello, diffuse the look and move on, this is not a friend, and they have no goal of being my friend. This is about control, getting or being involved in control issues or with bullies’ leads to big problems. I see many people who will sit around and drink with the IN crowd, the boys in the know, the hip people. Just a great way to robbed when they turn on you, or you do not drink the way they want you to drink. I do not drink; therefore, this whole stupid cultural seen is silly.
I am always amazed how the guidebooks overly help people to have nightlife and drinking. The books need to do this, however the proportionate advice makes it obvious they are big drinkers. Drinking is dangerous in any country on the planet; a guide should give a proportionate explanation and always be saying, drinking is dangerous.