Many countries serve sliced pickles at every meal. However, I cannot give away a Cornichon Pickle here in Grand Bassam. The Cote d’Ivoire people seem to despise them, I say to them,
"Pas de probleme, jetez."
"No problem, throw it."
I took the lid off the Jar, passed them around to six Cote d’Ivoire friends, not one of them ate the pickle, and only one person tried it. One normal-fat women grimaced, and finally
She threw the pickle out towards the street, landing in the sand.
Lidia shows me she can carry the Pickle Jar on her head.
Grand Bassam, Quartier Françoise
Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa --- Saturday, October 16, 2010
"I want the Jar, after you eat."
There is pretentiousness in the modern worlds, somehow we convince ourselves to acquire a taste for foods that suck. I have never eaten Caviar, and I dread the day, I know someone would say,
"This Caviar cost 100 Dollars, you must try it."
Moreover, I would taste and say,
--- The truth ----
There childlike honesty with my friends here in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast.
This Pickle was labeled a "Cornichon" the dictionary translates it as a "Gherkin." I am not going to pretend to know or care about pickles, there are some sweet ones I truly like, and these are not them. I sort of like these pickle, I can eat half the jar before wanting to "jetez." The cost of can of vegetables here in Ivory Coast is two dollars, the Pickles cost one dollar, and I think I purchase a healthy priced food.
There is this mythical explanation of Africa that would lead you to believe they are hungry, in reality, the women after age 25 are rather fat. The people are continuously eating, yes, they have been eating the same 5-10 foods for years, and refuse to try new ones, but they eat and eat and eat, just not always the best combination of vitamins and nutrients.
Video of Frederick throwing the pickle, this was stage after the fact, he does not speak French or English, he speaks Nizema.
Can you guess what this boy is saying to me?
Click Here to Learn what he is saying.
Throwing Pickles in Ivory Coast
The Art of Travel in West Africa
Truly, I have no clear explanation of what that title is suppose to mean, yet I know this, it is cliché enough to be said by a Travel Writer, we are the champions of cliché writing. The truth is travel is just living life while moving from location to location, trying to minimize the discomfort.
What does the dictionary have to say about art, well quite a bit, here is the number seven and eight in the list that best describes the cliché above?
Techniques or craft: the set of techniques used by somebody in a particular field, or the use of those techniques, the ability: the skill or ability to do something well.
This is where I now eat Breakfast daily; I call it the Irma Restaurant.
"I made an obvious good decision by going to this restaurant."
Grand Bassam, Quartier Françoise
Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa --- Tuesday, October 12, 2010
This is Frederick; I tried many times to get a truly good photo of his "Bloated Belly."
STOP his belly is not bloated, but that is what all the cliché people of the planet want you to believe, that some reason Black People are diseased in Africa.
"I made an obvious good decision, ignore all NGO’s, they sell lies for donations."
Kelly taking a photo of two children with a cell phone.
"I made an obvious good decision to take this photo."
Kelly is a cute girl; this little girl is a smile on steroids, an amazing amount of energy packed into one small midget person.
"I made an obvious good decision by absorbing the energy."
Art is the skill or ability to do something well.
The Art of Travel is to make decisions that are obviously good. There are people who want to come to Africa to save Africa, I think they should come to Africa to be saved.
The Art of Travel in West Africa
Saying Hello and Smiling First in Africa
A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.
- Robert Baden-Powell 1857 - 1941
- British soldier and founder of the Boy Scout movement.
Ivory Coast Friends Take Care of Me
My computer cord broke this week, this week; my Ivory Coast friends helped me find a new one, while I read my book at the beach.
"Behind every great man is a woman doing all the work."
- Epigraph made up by me for illustration… hehehe
Eating Ivory Coast 10 Dollar French Fries
Video of what has to be the most expensive order of French Fries in my life, here in Ivory Coast last week. I told Deborah, I do not like Alacole the Fried Banana Plantains, therefore she decides to cook me some Frits. (Literally fried, but truly French Fried Potatoes
Made with Pommes de Terre, more or less apple from the ground in French. I am not sure I had a choice in this decisions, I was carried away in the moment.
This is Deborah, she just went off to College in Abidjan last week, I believe she needed money for school, and she is a clever one. This situation was a man-trap of sorts; it all seemed simple starting because I did not want to pay 20 cents U.S. for the Fried Bananas. Deborah volunteers to make me French Fries; she wants 2000 CFA or about four Dollars in advance.
When you watch the movie, watch her butt muscles, she has the "Made-In-Africa" butt, an amazing anatomical African difference; I tried to explain the term "Bubble Butt," to here, but was lost in translation.
Grand Bassam, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa --- Tuesday, September 28, 2010
This is the family, the happy grin girl is Eva, she truly has perma-grin, a very happy person, and sells me two boiled eggs for 40 cents US every night, while I sit around and have the girls of this family surround me with fun.
This is Angel my French teacher, she did not talk to me for the first five days, and then suddenly I am her best friend. She walks around picking up things, saying the word in either French or Apolo the local language, then she waits until I repeat. There was a word "Toh Pu Ma" that I could not pronounce the other day, she made me repeat it 15 times, she is strict.
I tend to think I am tone death, not good for a person that now speak French and Spanish, plus I still do not know what "Toh Pu Ma" is, I think it is Manoc, but hard to say, it was wrapped in a banana leaf.
Victoire is the sister in red, she also went off to school, and I would describe her as the older sister, shy and alluring type, truly wistful, coy and one you notice walking away or close, watch the video, you will see.
10 Dollar French Fries
Ok, I gave Deborah 2000 CFA the first day, the next day after I ate a couple of plates of the Frits she walks into my personal space and says, "l’argent." (Money) I say, how much and she says 2000... I do not have a 2000 CFA bill, so I sort of wave a 5000 around, hoping she will take it and go get change. Yes, she took it, and walked away, never looking back, an amazing thing this African culture, there is no doubt in my mind she feels 5000 CFA about 10 dollars is not even money to me, just extra stuff.
This asking-for-Cadeaux-culture (Gifts a.k.a. Money, Cash) is one of them terms of endearments here in West Africa. I both love it and hate it, there is a never-ending tickle going on around me, from can I keep the change Cadeaux, to the you need to support me Cadeaux for dating girls here. Anyway I do it, there is small nick taken out of my pocket cash from time to time.
Just yesterday, Yoland, one of the sweetest of sweet sisters was in need of a new hair braid, I asked her how much it cost, she said 2000 CFA, and somehow 1000 came from me. She is like a niece to me, part of the family, hard to refuse. There is always a weak part of me when it comes to the womans hair here. The West Africa girls cannot grow hair longer than about three inches, after that, it falls out. I imagine my three sisters, and I am sure, looking in the mirror is part the life of my three sisters, and wanting to look in the mirror at your hair seems be a need to me for beautiful girls, not a want.
Note, I paid 7000 CFA for the French Fries; I am trying to forget, hope they do not want to cook them again next week.
Eating Ivory Coast 10 Dollar French Fries
Finding a Little Genius in Everything
I had an exceptionally enjoyable day yesterday in Cote d’Ivoire; I mean it was inspirationally an A+. Including the beach, a book, a movie, small black children and women, these ingredients allowed me to cook up an exceptional day. There is always a formula to happiness. I just wish the happiness formula I used, was the same as yours, and then I could force-feed you until you accepted happiness.
"A genius is somebody a computer cannot programme."
--- Taban Lo Liyong (1939 - ) Sudanese poet, novelist, and short-story writer.
--- Meditations of Taban Lo Liyong
Hmm, I think a genius is super aware in one moment, then super oblivious to their surrounding in the next. There is a moment when the person sees with unbounded clarity, then followed by a deep, massaging feeling of yes, because, yes, I understand, yes this is it, there is introspection that shuts out reality. The art of genius is to close you eyes, and then open them to a different world any time you wish.
My happiness formula is this, do more things in a day that make you happy than make you sad. Sounds simple enough, just keeping your priorities in line, and impossible to do by modern man, there is this irrational belief they can multitask their world; happiness does not work that way.
Craig from Travelvice.com told me this Cote d’Ivoire man has a 1300 dollar camera and a few hundred in lens, something like that. Craig has an uncanny knack for seeing the little things other people miss; this is one of his geniuses.
This camera is proof positive, that not all people in Africa are poor.
I think African should send help to the modern world; these people from Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire should export their happiness. I would say, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin are four countries where it is easy for me to be happy, now Africa has 52 countries so do not clump the continent into one opinion and show you modern world ignorance.
Grand Bassam, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa --- Thursday, September 23, 2010
What is a little Genius today?
1. I promised myself, I would never write a romantic book of all the things I have seen around this small planet using words.
2. Babies without diapers, this seems practical, there was a naked little baby, black as black, you need to use the word ebony to describe the baby happily stumbling around the beach today.
3. The topless women who walked down to the beach, not a care in the world, something National Geographic is not going to document. She was dumping some trash water, not an endearing moment for cliché documentaries when people are normal.
4. Knowing it is important for me to read a book by the beach, and watching movies makes me happy.
5. I am a man, this place is full of women, my testosterone levels are at the age of 19, this hyper activates my senses and feelings, wow what a rush.
I downloaded about 400 Movies in Guatemala, and now have them on a 500 Gig Hard Drive, truly the best way to hack away a couple of extra nothing hours in a day. I have way too many hours in the day, I am seldom busy.
I went on home after the beach today, then took a hot and cold shower, the hot water in my hotel room is hot enough to make instant coffee, truly a luxury in my Hotel world. Then lying in front of the fan, I put on this movie with Timothy Hutton called "Multiple Sarcasms." Generally, a writer like me becomes curious with good writing and need to find the name of true genius, or the writer or writers in this case.
Multiple Sarcasms, written by Brooks Branch, and Linda Morris, this movie was truly inspirational writing.
Finding a little genius in everything, this movie, the beach, the pure simplicity of Africa is happiness. Today, I also accept that Travelers often are searching for God by traveling. I think this is the true genius in life, to find a little God in everything, even if we do not find God, we saw something that looked like God, and then we are in good company.
Should people come to Africa, the answer is no, you would be miserable, or you could practice the art of genius.
Finding a Little Genius in Everything
West Africa Acculturation and Acclimatization
I am doing my best to become African when important or possible, more or less I take the good off the top of Africa, and leave a few "Indiana Manners" intact. (I am saying Indiana, they are a little different from other states in the USA, and I hear New Yorkers fit in good in Jamaica.)
I have been here in Cote d’Ivoire long enough to acculturate, acclimate and adapt.
My new travel strategy of staying one to three months in each location is inspirational. I do not spend time thinking about where to go, I think about living, what a relief. My budget has cut in half for lodging because I learn the ins and outs of a village and can find the best deals.
My meal for the day:
Pain - Bread 100
Beignet - Beignet 50
Petit Pois - Peas 300
2 Oeufs - 200
Dates - Dates a fruit - 200
Toothbrush - 25
875 CFA or about 2 USD, the number I need to say a lot is 50 and 100, I am rather good at saying Saan Fraan, or Duh Fraan but the 50 is a little difficult for me. I do not eat the toothbrush; however, if I use it correctly, it is suppose to splinter. This custom has dropped tremendously in Cote d’Ivoire since my last trip here, I truly like this custom, and had to hunt to buy my toothbrush sticks.
(Note, if you want guaranteed success as a Travel Writer, write about food, or make shows, etc, it is the no-brainer subject of travel writing, you are guaranteed. People need to relate, food is the easy way to relate.)
Grand Bassam, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa --- Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Acculturate and Acclimate
Acclimate means I have lost about 5 pounds of extra water weight and feel comfortable in the weather, or the "Climate." The temperature must be around 80 degrees, maybe 85, but generally comfortable with a fan.
Acculturate mean I do the normal Hello things, like Ca Va and Bon Soi in the afternoon, sometimes I grasp my hand together when I meet a person, or wave the in the air. Normally, I just look people directly in the eyes, they look me directly in the eyes and say hello. I was just thinking this would unnerve most American or Europeans; this is a full body contact, a visceral experience here in Cote d’Ivoire. The people look at me, and expect me to look at them, this is easy for me, I am the aggressor alpha gorilla, so I am good at this is simple and easy, in Northern Indiana in the small towns, the farmers expect you to look and acknowledge their presence you do not just get off being a jerk.
Here is the trick part of life, when am I suppose to give a Cadeau? Yes, no, or sometimes, if when, why, do I need to prove I can support a family?
This is an African bum, as best I can figure out, there are only a couple in the larger central village of Bassam, maybe has about 10,000 people, maybe more. He never ask for money, this is country is easy on the bum thing,
Dreads in Africa
Here is some trivia, some cool stuff to know and tell at Cocktail Parties, the normal African man as best I can tell, the true Africans never has dreads. Sometimes they do have long clean curls, but never true dreads. Why, as best I can figure, they know who naturally has them, and it is a bum, they do not want to look like a bum. If a man with a Bob Marley hat greets me here in Cote d"Ivoire and most of Africa with his long dreads or something tucked up inside his hat, I know it is someone from Europe who has returned, and wants to be "too cool." He will then act as if he is the same as me, from my culture, rather like I want to talk with people with dread, because he knows that normal naïve "White" African travelers believe dreads is "African." While, it has almost nothing to do with Africa in my opinion, and what do I know, this is my sixth time here. And do not give me the Ethiopia noise, I have to Ethiopia also.
Now, why do Thailand men never shave their heads?
Acculturation in Wiki
Funny Stuff this Definition from Wiki
Acculturation is the exchange of cultural features that results when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first hand contact; the original cultural patterns of either or both groups may be altered, but the groups remain distinct.
However, anthropologist Franz Boas (1888, pp. 631-632) argued that all people acculturate, and not only "savages" and minorities:
Andy Graham Quote
All people acculturate, there is no way to stop it, at first we abhor, then we accept, then we adapt, then you see Andy pissing along side the road, it is pragmatic at times. To argue that we do not become like others is a subliminal, subconscious prejudice.
Can you go to the Southern USA for six months and never say "You-all?
Presently, I am in social norms purgatory, the place where the rules of my culture do not apply and I am not fully aware of the new ones so they do not apply. I am unaware of social norm castigations and small punishments.
West Africa Acculturation and Acclimatization
The Kids of Ivory Coast West Africa
This is amazing, suddenly my life is full of small children, they are everywhere, and they invade my world in wonderful ways.
My Hotel "Las Palmas" is managed by Marie, and she has a three-year-old daughter by the name of Kelly. Daily as I slowly stroll into the Hotel Kelly lets out a screams and runs at me, she does not stop until she has plowed into my legs with her small hands and arms she hugs as if she was lucky to know me.
I know it is my "bonne chance."
I am sitting here writing this post wondering to myself, why don’t I have a photo of Kelly to put here? I believe the answer is this, when she runs at me it is one of them small family moments, like when my Mother and Father meet me at the Greyhound Bus Station, it just is not the time to stop and take a photo, plus that little girl is fast.
This is a very special photo, it says so very much about West Africa. First, this is simplicity, while the USA and Europe are up to their ears in complicated crap, we have this small child playing without a care in the world here in Africa. This reminds me of my childhood, when I was about the same age, maybe 1960, we ran around and played, whenever, wherever in my small town of 400 people.
I know your question, who is watching this child? It is the same as in my childhood, everyone is watching this child, and the whole community takes responsibility for her safety and welfare.
Now, take a close looks at the photo, her hair is braided, they call it "Tresse" or maybe "Tissage" here in Cote d"Ivoire. I would guess maybe her real hair is about 1-2 inches long in reality, and they have put hair extensions on this small child. The must work 2-4 hours to do the hair in this manner, and it could cost a day’s wages. The cost or the time is inconsequential, the mother wanted to make the small child beautiful and has succeeded. The people of Africa are often incredibly wealth in comparison to the developed world, or maybe they have their priorities in line.
Grand Bassam, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa --- Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Look at the beads or the string around the waist of this girl, I have lived about one year of my life in West Africa and it is still a mystery to me. Small or large, many girls here will have this string thing around their waist. It can be as simple as a piece of yarn, or as complicated at what you are looking at, normally I believe just one string of very small colored beads is most common.
I have asked about these beads in many ways, rephrasing the question, trying to translate the French, and in the end, it is my problem. If for example I am asking a 23 year old girl about the beads, she will just look at me as if to say, what a silly question, and say,
"Do you like them?"
Yes, I say, but why, and they continue to want to know, why I need to ask why --- I am learning this way of thinking, to not make simple into something complicated.
Beaches and Simplicity
Yesterday, I went to the Beach, it is a little crazy, I just spent a month at the beach of Tela, Honduras. The Honduras beach there was so ugly, I never once in 30 days laid on the beach and read my book. I have been here a week and have started going daily to the beach, the beach at Tela was just too complicated and dirty feeling. There was nothing warm and friendly about it, like watching a car accident, your stop and look, not sure what to do, so you decide to leave.
The beach here at the Grand Bassam has trash, fishermen with nets, boats, children, and girls that like to roll around in the sand. Nothing complicated, and this is what a beach should be, nothing complicated, nature providing a nice place to visit.
Tela, Honduras had a resort, and often resorts are crazy, saying we will make and incredibly complicated situation, you make a reservation, we have swimming pool, we will play annoying music so loud nobody can think, your brain can explode from sensory stimulation. The modern world keeps the mind churning so fast they can avoid all introspection, and then want to say life is good, I think they are insane.
Grand Bassam Beach is Simple
I spread out my hammock on the sandy beach, I use it for a blanket on the beach, then took off my shoes, opened my book, and hoped to fall asleep. Slowly, slowly, "un peu, un peu" the children of the beach work their way closer. One lies down five feet from me, facing me, looking at me, and says,
"Bon Fole" or white man in "Apolo."
(Do not expect me to spell this correct.)
I say, Je m’appelle Andre"
My name is Andrew.
I do not say "Andy" they like the sound and repeat it until I go crazy.
Simple and more simple, the kids of the beach start to stack up; soon there are 15 of these little black bodies piled up talking two feet from me. How am I to read? This could be a win or no win situation; instead, after years of travel, I accept that is it is what it is, no more, no less. I have no reason to pass judgment; a person should just roll with the situation and accept life.
Happy and Content
I think the goal of life is to be happy and content; it is strange world when people who have 100 times more money than Ivory Coast people are not happy. Moreover, I become angry when Rich people without a clue from developed countries want to come fix something that is far from being broken.
One of you will read this story, and find things to pick apart, another person will enjoy. The modern world often is a hassle, wanting to spoil simplicity by overcomplicating the world. I could write for weeks, show 1000’s of photos and nothing would change.
"People believe what they want to believe, and disregard the rest."
- Simon and Garfunkel in the song "The Boxer."
I was sitting under the palm stand where they sell prepaid mobile phone time and talk, when a tall man placed this child in my arms. He then walks down the sandy road towards a place to eat. I think he thought I needed something to do, and wanted his baby watched for a few minutes. I held the baby for a few minutes, than passed it along to the next person in line.
"The next person in line."
"Life is Good" or "La Vie est Belle."
You are all invited outside to play; I suspect you are too busy…
The Kids of Ivory Coast West Africa