Whilst living in Ivory Coast, my friend suggested that I get my hair braided. My initial reaction was “no..” but the next day I thought “why not” give it a go whilst I’m here, “I can always take it out if I don’t like it”. My friend soon called her hairdresser to arrange my appointment, and the following week I was sat in a salon chair in the corner of a busy marketplace, as potential hairstyles were being discussed and synthetic hair was being matched against mine. I soon realised: I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HAIR BRAIDS. Fortunately my friend was there to help me understand some of the hair terminology, and I was pleased with the end result. Now that I am a bit wiser I thought I would share some of this knowledge and experience with other clueless soles contemplating getting their hair styled in Africa.
My Christmas in Abidjan is sure to be one I will never forget. For starters it never really felt like Christmas: yes it was warm, but I’ve celebrated xmas under the sun before. I think it was the absence of Christmas songs chiming incessantly on the radio and in every supermarket, the absence of the Christmas shopping rush, and the first time I haven’t been surrounded by family, that made me forget it was December.
Before travelling to the Ivory Coast (and many other countries in Africa), you will probably frequent your local travel clinic to get a variety of vaccinations against diseases such as Yellow Fever, Meningitis, Typhoid and Cholera. You will also be prescribed malaria tablets to take regularly during your trip in order to avoid the country’s most pervasive illness.
On arrival in a new city, I am the kind of person who will turn straight to guide books or TripAdvisor to find the best things to see and do. This is easily done in say, Rome, which has numerous tourist attractions awaiting visitors. Abidjan however, is a city far less oriented towards tourism, and though there are a few “attractions” to visit, you will see that even these aren’t always prepared for keen visitors. Nevertheless I have given it my best shot, and here are some of my experiences whilst attempting to be a tourist in Abidjan.
Food is such an important part of travelling and discovering a new culture, and this is no different in the Ivory Coast. During my time here I have had an on-off relationship with food. I’ve been eating almost entirely local food, which is yummy, but which has also landed me in hospital (!) due to an infection.
Welcome back! In part 1 I described a few of my encounters with Abidjan’s single men. This is attention that I have (to some extent) become used to and learnt to dismiss to the best of my ability. What still surprises me though is when men “on duty” act in a way that, in the UK at least, would be deemed unprofessional. Mike the policeman for one, but I’ve also had hotel porters, receptionists and shop assistants try to chat me up whilst in uniform. Oh and mothers have asked for my number too.
There is no doubt that I stick out like a sore thumb in the Ivory Coast. A country pretty much devoid of tourism isn’t going to contain many Europeans, Americans, Asians, apart from the odd expat who has moved here for work. Considering I’m living with a local lady, I don’t live anywhere near the big hotels or the areas in which you’d be likely to find expats, thus increasing my (already high) chances of being noticed in the street.
Man is a beautiful town to the West of the Ivory Coast. It is located in the “Dix-Huit Montagnes” region, and is quite literally surrounded by 18 lush green peaks. We took a long weekend road trip from Abidjan to Man, hiring a 4×4 with driver for 3 days. The drive without stopping is about 8 hours there and 8 hours back, which left us with just a day and a half to see as much as we could of this charming area. Here my highlights: all of which I would recommend to anyone looking to discover Man.
Hello folks! Yesterday marked exactly 1 month since my arrival in the Ivory Coast, and what a month it has been. Exciting, confusing and exhausting. Living in Abidjan took several weeks to get used to, and just as I was starting to feel comfortable with living I started to have issues adapting to my work environment. I’ve had to learn so much so quickly, it feels like I’ve been here a year not a month!
To give you a glimpse of some of my experiences these last four weeks, here are eight questions that have often come up in my conversations with Ivorians:
Grand-Bassam, or Bassam for short, is well known for its beautiful beaches and is probably the most tourist friendly place in the Ivory Coast (and I still wouldn’t call it particularly touristy). It is very easy to do a day trip from Abidjan to Bassam: the journey by minibus will cost you 500 CFA (not even £1) and takes half an hour. Bassam was also the first capital of the country, and is filled with old colonial buildings protected by UNESCO: the first hospital in the country, the first bank, and the first post office to name a few.