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The Kids of Ivory Coast West Africa

2010-09-15 02:44:27

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?"
"C’est Bon?"
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