Friday, September 19, 2014

For the silver lining

After the terrible bout of food poisoning I got from Rodeo Jack last night, a little pampering was in order. The Ivotel Spa fit the bill, and the facial made me feel like I'd left Abidjan...

Friday, September 5, 2014


I have been anxious to get out of Abidjan and see more of Côte d'Ivoire, so a group of us headed to Yamoussoukro. After a 2 hour drive on excellent roads we entered what I imagine an American suburb in West Africa to look like -- wide roads with people too poor to have cars mostly on foot and bicycles.  After an incredible lunch, we made our way to the Basilica which is one of the most impressive engineering feats I have ever seen.

I am not going to say much about Yamoussoukro because the city and its landmarks are an incredible source of pride for many Ivorians, and I wouldn't want to rain on that parade. As an expat in Abidjan, much of my life is disconnected from local realities. The visit to the Basilica left me feeling troubled because I couldn't take in the beauty of the place -- I could only think of the better uses for the money elsewhere. That said, the locals were really, really nice people and the change of pace compared to Abidjan was palpable.
The road leading to the Basilica 

Walking up to the Basilica
The Basilica's dome
Inside the Basilica
The Presidential palace is surrounded by a moat filled with crocodiles
If you live in the presidential palace and you want to stave off a coup, just add some crocodiles to the water surrounding the palace and hope for the best. :-)  

This munchkin was ready for his close-up

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Entrepreneurship and co-working in Abidjan

Abidjan is a place that never ceases to amaze me.  Subsistence entrepreneurship is pretty big here (taxi drivers et. al.), but Ivorians strike me as reluctant entrepreneurs. I don't know if it's a relic of the country's colonial ties to France, but innovation and tech entrepreneurship are not the first things that comme to mind when I think of Abidjan, or Côte d'Ivoire. In fact, many of the online products being launched here are spearheaded by foreigners: Germans for Jumia, or the French and South Africans -- if you're willing to count Orange Money and MTN Mobile Money.

Given this unusual set of circumstances, you'll pardon my disbelief when a dear friend invited me to a TechMeet up in Abidjan sponsored by the African Innovation Foundation and featuring fascinating people such as Karim Sy from Jokkolabs, Cyriac Gbogou from Kumusha Takes Wiki, Florent Youzan from Ovillage, and others. Since I am not very knowledgeable about the topic or the environment as whole, I didn't expect much. In the end, I am so glad I went!

I never would have guessed it, but there are a few trends emerging in Abidjan. Whodathunkit? Co-working is coming to Abidjan.  Not only as a work space, but also as a community of people who support each other.

As we enter into a service driven society, one starts to wonder whether we won’t all become freelancers. Abidjan is no exception. As more and more people become freelancers, more will seek to create shared working spaces. These spaces are also serve as a way to fight the growing fragmentation in society.

The founder of Jokkolabs, Karim Sy, took the floor to explain his vision of the economy, including how technology allows groups of people to come together in ways they never could have before.  Today's new tools allow us to collaborate in a horizontal fashion.  Despite this, we face a number of challenges that can only be solved if we all come together. He also announced that Jokkolabs will be launched in September 2014, with Innova, on Rue des Jardins in II Plateaux. 

The participants also touched on a variety of interesting topics including:
-- Neutrality and non-profit. In a place like Abidjan, NGOs, the UN, and numerous foreign government hand over poisonous gifts -- that on their face seem altruistic, but hide a far less altruistic political or economic purpose.
--Africa's role in producing content online:  Africa produces very little content in places like Wikipedia.  With time, more people will learn to contribute to online communities.
--Humility: Elites who have been educated in the West often have a pejorative, or downright offensive view of Africans, even when they are African themselves. Local people are an incredible resource, and should be treated with respect, even when they lack foreign credentials. 

All in all, I was very pleased by the depth of the conversation and am looking forward to the TechMeet up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Heading outside of Abidjan

Not everyone is an outdoorsman. I guess what I am trying to say that, some of us prefer the great indoors. I happen to be one of those people.  I like shopping malls, libraries, nice living rooms -- you know, inside spaces. This may be one of the reasons I'm sometimes referred to as an inside cat. However, even an inside cat's gotta get out sometime. This time it was Jacqueville, a city located about 70 km West of Abidjan.

Since this was my first time outside of Abidjan -- Assinie and Bassam don't count, I didn't really know what to expect.  I wasn't sure of how good the roads would be, I had also heard about security issues on the road.  In the end, aside from being stopped about 5 times at checkpoints, where soldiers proceeded to try to shake us down (more on that later), everything went according to plan.

We left on Saturday morning, to take advantage of the Eid weekend. Since everyone else had the same plan, traffic was heavy but not unduly so. The real issue was the soldiers trying to squeeze some money out of our predominantly white group. Since I don't come from a place where shakedowns by the military are a common occurrence, I'm not sure how it normally goes, but I find these guys very, very polite.  They flag you down, and instead of asking for your licence and registration politely request a cup of coffee. They will tell you it's hot, they've been standing all day, and come on, it's Eid. I'm very annoyed by these shenanigans, because you are essentially being held hostage by a soldier who has a hardened sense of entitlement to your cash lurking beneath the smile. Say no -- we did every time-- and things can get uncomfortable very quickly.  On the way back, one of my friends, who happens to be a white Ivorian dressed down the soldier. Her local French and anger made the soldier beat a hasty retreat, and we were soon back on our way.

Jacqueville is located on the the other side of a lagune and a ferry connects the two side. After quite a bit of driving, we ended up in a very long line of cars waiting to cross.  When I say long, I mean 3 hours long. We finally made it across, headed to the beach and had an awesome time.
Jacqueville is a lovely remote town where many Ivorians have vacation properties.  The roads are excellent, there is electricity throughout, and the people seemed nice enough. I'd love to go back, but I'll wait until there is a bridge to get across.

After a 3 hour wait, we finally made it over! 
The Ivorian government is investing in massive infrastructure projects all over the country. This bridge would have made our journey 3 hours shorter. 
Abidjan's roads are so awful, we were stunned to see such beautiful roads. It struck me as a bit of waste since most people were on bicycles. 
The inside cat side of me was worried on this road. Sure enough, one of our cars got stuck in sludge. 

The view from our thatched roof huts on the beach. 
The beach made it all worthwhile. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don't move to Abidjan without these 10 things...

10 Things you should bring with you to Abidjan:
  1. Tupperwares, and all sorts of cookware.  Remember that air
  2. Wellies, and lightweight rain ponchos
  3. Antibiotics and vitamines: I paid 20 USD for an 8 day course of Amoxicilin.  I would have paid a fraction of that in Europe.  Vitamine C costs a FORTUNE here.
  4. Contact lenses and contact lens solution. I just paid 22 dollars for contact lens solution.
  5. Your Mattress: I got the foam mattress from Ikea in Paris, and it set me back 50 euros. Mattresses in Abidjan are expensive
  6.  Sheets and towels
  7. Kids toys -- Children's toys, especially electronic ones, can be very expensive
  8. Children's books in English:  Think ahead and bring them with you
  9. Curtains, unless you want to settle for crappy expensive ones, or have some made...
  10. Carpets, if you like proper floor coverings, bring your own...
Bonus points for bringing back-up power cords for your laptops, adaptors, and whatever, music speaker system you don't want to pay an arm and a leg for in Abidjan...

Tune in tomorrow for my list of things that I could have left at home...

T-Pain, or a journey down memory lane

I look back fondly on the early naughts as years of studying, interspersed with some pretty wild partying. On campus, we would have massive parties where everyone would dance to songs with silly titles (and sometimes equally silly dance moves): "Chicken Noodle Soup", "Buy you a drank" and "Superman [dat hoe]" come to mind. If these don't ring a bell, check out the videos -- real gems... Sadly, once I graduated, my undying love for Auto-tune was no longer, and T-pain was largely forgotten.

In fact, T-Pain was so forgotten that when I heard people saying he was coming to Abidjan, I couldn't remember a single song he'd released. All of that changed, as I sat with my room-mate in Abidjan traffic yesterday morning.  The familiar beat of "Buy you a Drank" came on, and my French room-mate sat looking aghast, as I did the shoulder lean made popular by the song's music video so many years earlier.  I got to the office, opened Itunes and found some of T-Pain's masterpieces: "I'm in Love with a Stripper" was the first song to come up.

For those of you unfamiliar with T-Pain's "I'm in Love with a Stripper", I've posted the video.  It should help you decide whether or not you want to go see T-Pain in Abidjan on August 7th at the Hotel Ivoire.

Not sure I'll attend, but I really hope he performs I'm in Love with a Stripper, which for many men in Abidjan is a reality they are intimately acquainted with. Needless to say, this situation only brings heartbreak, or as a male friend once said: "The worst thing a guy can do here [in Abidjan] is domesticate/privatize a public good [bar-girl/semi sex-worker]."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It's raining, it's pouring and Abidjan is flooding...

It's rainy season in Abidjan, and I am soooo glad I have my rain-boots and large umbrella. 
Unfortunately, they can't protect me from the flooding. The thing is, in Abidjan, when it rains, it pours "Noah and the Ark" style, sometimes for 24 hours straight. Combine that with a local government that hasn't cleaned out the ditches that are supposed to catch the excess water, and corrupt planning officials who let developers obstruct drainage systems, and you end up with a murky swimming pool instead of roads when it rains.
I instagrammed a pic of what part of my harrowing taxi ride to work looked like this morning (the widget is on the left side of the screen) and the pic below is the view from my friend's window on Boulevard de Marseille...  

Here are a couple of things I wish I'd known before rainy season:
  • Zone 4 floods in the rainy season.  It doesn't flood as badly as parts of Riviera i.e. your car won't be swept away, and people don't die on this side of town, but it can get  pretty bad.  The main affected roads are the alley that takes you to Hayat (the alley that leads to Rue Lumière), many of the streets off of Rue Mercedes (aka Rue Pierre et Marie Curie), including Rue Marconi, Rue Fleming and Rue Docteur Calmette. If you're off of Boulevard de Marseille, near the Wafou, you'll be stuck, unless you're in a SUV with high clearance. 
  • Y'a pas route Taxi drivers don't like to go to places that are flooded.  This means finding a ride in or out of your neighborhood can be an uphill battle. Case in point, I stood outside in the pouring rain for 15 minutes with taxi after taxi refusing to take me to Plateau.
  • Now is the time to look for housing.  After all, you know whether your future road will flood...
  •  Bad roads + murky pools of water = flat tires.  
  • Not having an SUV means having less control on your ability to navigate the city... 
  • If you have to go out, and the rain has caused flooding, leave while it's raining.  The terrible visibility makes most people wait for the rain to end.  Once it clears up a bit, you're sitting in flooded traffic Armageddon. 
  • If you have a car, make sure your insurance covers water damage that can happen when your car is parked, and water damage caused by driving in deep water.
But hey, malaria and flooding aside, it's not all bad. The weather is cooler.  And there aren't as many mosquitoes as you would think there would be.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Multiple allegiances in Abidjan during the World Cup.

Love it or hate it – and I have been known to do both on occasion – Abidjan is a city that pulses to its own vibrant beat. Part of what gives it its vibe is the fact that Abidjan is a city of immigrants, who’ve left their home countries in search of a better life. That said, they remain proudly Burkinabé or Lebanese, and one barely need scratch beneath the surface to see that the city is full of people with mixed allegiances. Come World Cup time, everyone gathers around the national team and cheers them on with high hopes. What looked like every man woman and child was decked out in an Ivorian jersey, and for a couple of weeks, everyone morphed into diehard soccer fans, and all of the old tensions were forgotten. 

The incredible display of national and regional unity, has made watching the World Cup here particularly special. I have watched matches in Lebanese bars, in Ivorian maquis, and in my office building. Once it became clear the “Elephants” would not advance, everyone started cheering for other teams – primarily the remaining African ones.  Slowly, but surely, you could feel unity exit stage left, as multiple allegiances began to reappear.  So much so, that no one batted an eye when I cheered for the US to beat Ghana, and a local taxi driver said he was supporting France because his brother lived there. This place reminds me of how much we are all connected to one another in ways that we often forget. Here, somehow, it all works.  And that’s what makes this place special.    

Update: When I got home last night, I saw my building's security guard staring intently at a TV screen, watching the last minutes of the Germany Algeria game. He looked up at me and said the French equivalent of: --Welp, there goes the last African team...

Friday, June 20, 2014

5 Things you don't need to take with you to Abidjan...

1. Clothes Labor is cheap and chances are you'll have a cleaning lady.  You are also going to want to buy local clothes in African (wax) fabric.
2. Good leather. It molds in the humidity here, unless you are extremely diligent.
3. High heeled shoes.  The roads are too bad for me to waste my precious shoes here.
4. Most foodstuffs.  I have found a million different kinds of foodstuffs I would never have imagined. If you can find it in Paris or in Paris Store  (  or in a Lebanese grocery store you can probably find it here...
5. Wood furniture (especially wardrobes).  If you're comfortable working with a carpenter, get it done here: Abidjan has nice wood and good carpenters. Also, most apartments have wardrobes in them...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

So I got really sick this weekend

So I felt really sick on Saturday, sick enough to miss all of the soccer and crawl into bed at 7 pm. I woke up the next morning knowing that something was amiss and that I needed to find a doctor.
A friend have me a doctor's contact info and he came over in the afternoon. Not only did he speak English, his house call cost 20 000 francs. Luckily, it turns out I don't have malaria but some kind of angina that is turning into bronchitis-- hence the hacking cough.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A short post for the Abidjan naysayers.

Someone came into my office yesterday and was critical about Abidjan's infrastructure.  He mentioned things that were very true, including the roads' inability to handle all of the traffic, and complained about the flooding that invariably happens during the rainy season here...  I have not always been the biggest fan of Abidjan, and I'm pretty sure my posts reflect that.  Despite that, I somehow found myself getting really defensive about the place and its people.  Oh far the mighty have fallen. I, ever the naysayer, am finally beginning to grow attached to this place...

Either way, I think that Abidjan is judged too harshly. Traffic is horrendous and the road infrastructure has been poorly maintained, but I feel like the roads here aren't that bad. And the government has embarked an admirable series of large scale infrastructure projects to bring the roads up to snuff. Before being too critical, I think we should ask ourselves whether the roads in Guinea or Cameroun are any better...
Finally, the people more than make up for it.  I have met many friendly Ivorians and love the energy that so many of them seem to have...
Have a great weekend, and enjoy watching the World Cup!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Malagassy Food

We found an amazing Malgassy restaurant in Abidjan.  The food was good, and the hostess didn't seem to mind that we stayed for at least 4 hours.  With a bill that came in at under 10 000 francs per person (and everyone had two courses), we may end up becoming regulars at Le Relais Malgache (off of Rue des Jardins in II Plateaux -- (59 49 33 75 / 07 07 22 84 / 07 07 22 85)...
I'll post pictures soon, promise...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Assinie Lunches... and more love in Abidjan

A group of us braved the overcast skies and headed to Coucoué Lodge in Assinie for lunch last weekend...  With a grilled shrimp salad and lobster that were out of this world, the least I can say is that the food did not disappoint,
We also shared shredded calamari.

People ate on the waterfront, and it was a great meal.
Since it's rainy season, the beach was deserted, and the water was choppy.
My little friend took all the food shots (he's 5, and doesn't really like food)

Even the salads were amazing.  I must say that I am glad I've overcome my salad fear.
My little photographer friend does like shrimp, though... :-)

In case you were wondering why I mentioned love in what seems to be an obvious food post, your patience is about to be rewarded.

Over lunch, one of my lunch-mates, who seems to be somewhat unlucky in love was making blanket statements about what kind of men "girls like me" are willing to date.  I am not really sure why I was singled out. But, having refrained from venturing into the Abidjan dating cesspool with its expats, colleagues, married men, and young guys trying to get a visa to anywhere but here, I find his remarks ironic, to say the least. Then, it all clicked.  Not only do women in Côte d'Ivoire tend to rely on men for economic survival, many of them are vying for a small number of "eligible" Ivorian men.  I feel the competitiveness of the dating pool in Abidjan gives men with money a sense of entitlement so strong that a guy I barely know thinks he has the right to have me fawn all over him, and is upset when I don't. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cost of Living update

You're probably wondering what this is...
Today, a friend of mine and fellow recent arrival to Abidjan Skyped me this message: "I spent $72 on 24 cases of water, 5 packs of maxi pads, a 3-pack pair of socks a box of cereal and a box of cookies. R u KIDDING ME!!!!"
I couldn't believe it, and demanded proof, i.e. a scanned copy of the receipt.

I am still stunned -- the 20 dollar socks really got to me -- so I am sharing it with you all...
If there is a moral of the story, it's to come with your weight in sanitary napkins/tampons, or better yet, consider a switch to moon cup.
Also, it looks like my friend needs to get a filtered water service.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Weekend Adventures

Despite a Saturday night of revelry, I managed to get out and go visit Abidjan's cathedral.
Located in the Plateau district, the Cathedral seats 5000 people and overlooks the Lagune. It's in dire need of renovation and the person leading the tour will badger you into making a donation. 
While the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth, the church is definitely worth a shot.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Love and clubbing in Abidjan -- taking stock of my Saturday night...

As I may have mentioned before, I live in Zone 4. While this may not seem relevant to love in Abidjan, it is, perhaps more so than you may imagine.  

When you're an expat, love in Abidjan is often tied to money, position and citizenship. Expats are also thought to be white/asian, because they are the most visible.  The few white men here are highly sought after by white expat women who prefer partners who look like them, but also by Ivorian young women, also known as petites, who are looking for a sugar daddy or visa to Europe. If you are a white expat woman here, you may find yourself getting proposed to (yes, I mean marriage proposals) multiple times a day. This may seem crazy on its face, but for many men here, especially poorer ones, whiteness represents a foreign citizenship, and the ability to escape Ivory Coast's harsh economic landscape.  The economic lure of France, Canada, or the US is so strong, that men are literally walking around proposing to women on the street.  It reminds me of the fervor with which we play lotto back home.  The reasoning is quite similar: some people buy lottery tickets every day, not because they think they'll win, but because you can't win unless you've played the game.  Ivorian women play the same game, they just get to play it with more willing participants, i.e. old, white expat men looking to score a 19 year old girl.

This brings me back to my my first sentence: I live in Zone 4.  Zone 4 is Abidjan's hotbed of prostitution, and is packed with a host of nightclubs that cater to white men cruising for young Ivorian girls.  Every club and bar I have been to in Zone 4 has its share of "petites", the polite term for the young ivorian girls who are loking for expat men. It is not a pretty sight. Sometimes, I am tipsy enough to lose myself in the music and dance despite it all, but more often than not, I am disgusted by the open exploitation taking place in front of me.  This is complicated even more by the fact that I am black. And young. And female.  It's not that men get confused -- I am clearly not a "petite"-- but there is a sexualized, racialized gaze that I get from men in these places.  It is as if a part of them were unable to distinguish which side I fall on, and their openly lascivious looks, while never daring to approach strike me as a silent attempt to put me, and all young women who look like me, in the same box.

The next level of love in Abidjan is one where as an expat you meet wealthier, more educated Ivorians. I'm a fan of the ones that have foreign passports, since they are often more well traveled and have a better understanding of a woman's right to refuse someone's advances. The only problem with these guys is that they tend to marry young.  Many also tend not to be completely upfront about their marriage status. So much so, that I think it's probably safe to assume that 1/2 of all professional, foreign educated Ivorian men over 32 are married.  They like their wives, but feel no need to stay faithful to them, and are unlikely to divorce them.  You've been warned. Vet your partners accordingly. 

Finally, a final level of love in Abidjan I've run into is where a young Ivorian who is working for an international institution is looking for a foreign spouse.  This is somewhat similar to the marriage proposal in the street, but with added layers of sophistication, and the unfortunate fact that you are probably at a dinner, or house-party with this person, limiting your ability to escape. The guy will stand way too close to you, tell you how beautiful you are and ask dumb questions designed to get you talking a bit.  You will spend your time smiling uncomfortably and trying to back away a bit from what is clearly a guy trying to mark you as his territory.  Then, when some dance music comes on, they move in for the kill, trying to dance in a manner wholly inappropriate given the short time (read, less than two hours) you've known each other.

I hope I don't sound too bleak -- but sometimes taking stock of your Saturday night can lead to interesting conclusions.  Also, you can always go clubbing in Deux Plateaux.  I think I'll do that next time. 

I'm back!

I'm back!  Vacation was just what the doctor ordered, and I have settled back into life here in Abidjan.

The time away gave me the chance to figure a couple of things out:
  1. Buy a mattress at Ikea, and bring it with you.  Your wallet (and your back) will thank you.
  2.  Don't underestimate your body's reaction to the heat. When planning my move here, I thought malaria and food poisoning would me my worst enemies.  It so happens that heat has been my worst enemy. The constant heat makes me irritable, has caused an eczema outbreak on my skin and leaves me feeling down. If you're like me, you'd be wise to remember that April is the hottest month of the year here -- plan accordingly...
My mattress

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mini hiatus

I am heading out of the country for a couple of weeks...
See you when I get back!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inside B's Abidjan Budget

Many of you have been hearing horror stories about Abidjan's cost of living. Since I am but one person, who hasn't been here very long, I figured I'd start asking other people about their expenses. B is an Ivorian American living in Abidjan. She is in Abidjan temporarily and was kind enough to share her budget with us.

Housing: We signed a lease for 11 months and paid in advance for 9 months. The rent is 1,000,000 CFA which is roughly $2100 a month divided by five people since I live with roommates, is about $420 a month per person.

Phone: It varies really. I don't do a lot of talking on the phone, most communication happens via text message which if you get a specially offer, you get free texts every month, I'd have to find out exactly what that "forfait" was called. I usually recharge my phone every week for about 5-10,000 CFA which is between $10 and $20.

Public transportation can get you to the beach for 1 000 francs.
Leisure: It usually includes food ie going out to lunch or dinner with people, that's where I spend the bulk of my money. I'd say at least $50 a week, which is spent on most weekends. I was talking a dance class but it was really expense for my taste, about 8,000CFA a class, which is about $16 a class. Going to the beach, which I seldom do costs about 1000CFA in transport if you take a Baca [those minivan buses that are a form of public transportation here], which is pretty cheap. On the other hand if you take a cab, you can work out a deal with the cab driver for 22-25,000CFA for the day to drop you and pick you back up when you're done, which is about $50.000.

Most unexpected expense: Definitely transportation, we don't have a car so every time I go to work or out anywhere, I have to take a cab, which to work, round-trip is about $8 and that's not including any trips to the grocery store, the market or to visit friends or family.

What financial advice would you give to someone coming?
I would say expect to pay more to find good housing in a good neighborhood. I live in Deux Plateaux Vallon and there is always something going on. There are lost of food place, bars, bakeries and shopping markets. Stick to a monthly budget and if you can, GET A CAR! Expect to haggle for certain things even though you may still get ripped off as a foreigner. Lastly, Abidjan can be cheap if you know how to budget and plan but I've realized that it's sometimes as expensive as living in the States. Oh, also, be prepared to pay tips and bribes to be able to get things done as they should and on time. Sometimes it takes a little "convincing" to get things done that I would never have to deal with in the States. Almost forgot, paying for security ($40 a month) and gardening services ($60 a month).
Is there anything you feel particularly lucky to not have to pay for here? insurance? Instead of paying for heat during the winter months, it's the air conditioning that has to be paid for because of the heat.

Is there anything that people spend way too much money on here?
Hmmm probably transportation I would say and food.

So here is a recap of where B's money goes:

P.S. I heard some of you were having issues with the comment box. Just click on the No Comments to post your own comment/questions. Sorry for the poor ergonomics -- praying I'll be able to fix it soon!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Traffic in Abidjan -- People Watching in Treichville

I got stuck in traffic today. Really, really bad traffic.  It was so bad, it took me an hour and a half to get from Biétry to Plateau this afternoon.  Rather than give in to frustration, I took out my camera and took a couple pictures.     

Mail in Abidjan

Someone asked me about mail in Abidjan.  I asked around, and despite seeing this sexy bike on the streets, have been told that Ivorian mail is NOT reliable. Plagues by theft, and lack of professionalism, the mail system only seems to be reliable for those mailing letters.  Anything of value, and anything being mailed from overseas, is likely to be tampered with. 
Sorry guys, looks like DHL and Fedex are your best bet.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

People watching in Abidjan

People give me a lot of grief when I try to take their pictures.  So I mostly do it from the back.  In the beginning, this was not my desired outcome, but over time, I have come to realize that the subjects seem more alive this way.  They're living, and I feel like I get to intrude on a fleeting moment of their day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Checking out the Arts Market

I managed to get out to the Arts market most commonly referred to as CAVA (le Centre Artisanal de la ville d'Abidjan) and saw some nice stuff.  It's located in Zone 3/ Zone 4 and is quite touristy.  In fact, it's so touristy, one vendor accepted dollars.

I found the vendors in the market to be excellent businessmen.  While I found some of their wares to be offensive, to not say repugnant, I do understand that some of these are sold to European tourists who have their fantasy vision of Africa and Africans. 

 It's still worth the detour, because beneath all of the junk, there were some nice masks and some pretty unique looking pieces that would make wonderful presents or decoration.  I also like supporting the local economy...My friend chose a mask from one of the ones below.  And I bought the mirror in the bottom picture.