8 Questions Foreigners Can’t Escape in the Ivory Coast

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:

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A Day Trip to Grand-Bassam

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.

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A Taste of West African Music

I have heard a variety of music since my arrival in the Ivory Coast, but none have stuck in my head like this one. “La Sauce” by Reniss (from Cameroon) is not only a very catchy song, but the phrase “le piment dans la sauce” (aka. the chili in the sauce)  is one I have found to be so true to my experience with food here. They eat chili with absolutely everything, and my colleague even claims she can’t eat (or heavily dislikes) a meal without it! On the other hand, I have a very low tolerance to spice, so I enjoy my food accompanied by a big bottle of water.

But back to the music: press play, turn the volume up, and enjoy a few African vibes on this fine Saturday x

No Maps Here: the irony of my chosen blog name

Let me start off by explaining the thought behind my blog name.

On the one hand, “Maps for Breakfast” symbolises my daily planning of activities whilst travelling, and the organisation of days out nearer home. On the other hand, the name represents moments I find myself daydreaming, consulting the world map on my bedroom wall in London and imagining what it would be like to visit particular countries. To summarise, “Maps for Breakfast” is me Google mapping everything, it’s me flicking through all the travel guides in a bookshop, and it’s me planning the ultimate round-the-world trip just because I’m bored.

So here I am in Abidjan, and as is usual on arrival in a new city, I am itching to explore. This, however, is not quite as straightforward as it has been for me in other cities worldwide.

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Welcome to Africa!

I’m not going to lie, these last few days have easily been the hardest of my life. Culture shock has hit me left, right and centre, and it’s been exhausting to say the least. I’ve had many a message asking “Kay, how is it???” and my reply has simply been “crazy”, struggling to find more words to describe my first experiences in Abidjan. Well, today is the day. Here are some words (more to follow in subsequent posts, I don’t want to inundate you all at once!).

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The Ivory Coast: an introduction to my latest adventure

“Why the Ivory Coast?” I hear you ask.

I am off to work in Abidjan (the capital city) through a youth organisation called AIESEC, who organise internships for students and graduates worldwide. After an initial interview, applicants interested in the scheme are placed on an online portal with thousands of opportunities at their fingertips. Naturally, I had a lot of fun browsing through these and readily submitted applications for opportunities across India and South East Asia. A couple weeks later I logged back into the portal and this particular opportunity in the Ivory Coast was at the top of my home page.

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10 Thoughts Everyone Has Before A Big Trip

The run-up to a big trip can be stressful. My desk has been covered in post-it notes for the past four months, and I have slowly and successfully been ticking off all the major tasks: 7 vaccinations, 2 insurance policies, 1 visa, plenty of malaria tablets and a one-way ticket to the Ivory Coast. Now with less than 48 hours to go until the grand departure, this is pretty much where my mind is at:

  1. This is never all going to fit in my bag/backpack/suitcase *sits on bag in hope it will shut*
  2. I have a funny feeling I’ve forgotten to pack something important
  3. *checks passport is packed for the fifteenth time*
  4. I hate goodbyes
  6. What if I don’t make any friends
  7. Can’t wait to make loads of friends, meet loads of new and interesting people, learn about different cultures, grow as a person (no pun intended), and have once-in-a-lifetime-amazing experiences…
  8. I hope the food there is good
  9. I hope the food there is cheap
  10. Oh sh*t did I pack my iPhone charger?