Friday, November 26, 2010

Hi again!  Sorry it has been so long.  The weeks seem to pass by quickly now.  The pace of life is more steady and normal overall and that makes it hard to realize how long it has been since I last wrote.  So here I will write about some of the “do’s” and “don’ts” here in Cote d’Ivoire. 

DO greet everyone you meet, multiple times a day, and especially if you see them everyday (ex. The workers where we live).  It is highly rude to walk by without stopping to greet.  Do NOT use your left hand.  If you have something in your right hand and something else in your left and you want to hand them to somebody you should hand the thing in the right hand first and then switch the other thing from your left hand to your right.  The reason for this is that the left hand is used in the bathroom; especially good to discriminate since there is rarely toilet paper handy. 

DO bargain for most everything.  Do NOT bargain for those things with a set price.  It beats me how to tell between the two, nothing ever has a price tag.  DO make kissing sounds to hail a taxi, DO NOT kiss or touch someone of the opposite sex in public, even if you are married.  DO eat quickly and much.  Do NOT talk or sing while eating apparently it messes with the pipes the food goes down.  DO ask how a person is and their family.  Do NOT ever answer badly.  Example:  How are you?  Oh not so good today.  This is a bad response.  Always say you are good at first, later in the conversation you can bring up how you are really doing depending how close you are with a person.

DO live in community and spend time with people.  Do NOT deal directly with conflict, use a mediator.  Do NOT spend too much time alone; people think there is something wrong with you.  Do NOT show your knees in public (girls and guys).  DO dance in church :-)

Well that is all for the cultural lesson today.  If you friend Journey Corps on Facebook you can see when some of my other team mates post blogs.  That way if I forget something they can supplement it.  Honestly, I don’t much enjoy writing, but God has gifted some of my team mates with this art.

Thanksgiving was great here.  We had a big feast with all the missionaries serving with World Venture in Cote d’Ivoire.  It has been such an honor hosting them this week.  There were forty people around the table last night.  It was the biggest Thanksgiving feast I have ever had.  I am thankful I was able to be here and supply the crescent rolls! 

My stomach has begun its revolt.  I am thankful that it is just now starting but it is ironic what it revolts against.  AMERICAN FOOD!!! We had hamburgers on Wednesday for lunch and Pizza for dinner, and I thought I might die.  Tonight, we had spaghetti and I feel like my stomach is going to explode.

Haha.  I guess I am more African than I thought.  French is coming along but keep praying for it to come quickly.  Pray for relationships to deepen among us.  Finally, pray for the country this week as the elections are happening again.  This country is ready for peace.  I think of you often and keep you in my prayers.  Thank you for who you are.
Sending Ivoirian Love,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ça va? Oui, ça va

When greeting someone here, and you must always greet one another otherwise you are rude, you say bonjour or bonsoir.  In the morning before lunch you say bonjour and after lunch you say bonsoir.  At first I felt sorry for bonjour because it didn’t get as much use as bonsoir.  But this was before I learned about the African wake up call which happens before 6am every morning.  Thus, the morning is quite a bit longer than my mornings back home! After the initial hello, you say “ça va”.  And you can just say ça va back with different inflection or you can say wee or you can say ça va bien.  I say this probably thirty to fifty times a day here.

Okay, so the last time I wrote I hadn’t even been to town yet!  Wow!  What an experience it is.  We have gone into the market four times now.  The first time, last Tuesday was an odd and rare experience because of the elections.  The streets were empty and most of the stores and stands were closed.  Traffic was a breeze but it was a bit too quiet for the second largest city in the country.  The following visits I learned that was not the norm.  Today was probably the most memorable experience into town for me.  We had assignments this time and we were going off in pairs without a French liaison.  AHHH!  Naomi and I were partners and we were to buy potatoes (pom de terre) and a notebook for our French class (un cahier).  I left the market feeling sooo frustrated and tired today!  For some reason no one could understand what we wanted and the bartering system is strange and exhausting.  I am sure I will look back on this and laugh, but today was a rude awakening for how little French I know.  On the bright side we narrowly escaped death by moto-bike at least thirty times in an hour and didn’t get lost!

At any rate, that brings me to my next point…THE FOOD!  I have enjoyed all the African food I have has thus far and because we have an American cook as well, Katrina, we get yummy American dishes as well.  Such as, spaghetti on Sundays and I think tomorrow we are having hamburgers!  This is nice to kind of ease us into another type of food.  I, so far, have not gotten sick…knock on wood!  So, one of my favorites is what we ate tonight…I ate way too much.  Okay I am going to try to describe it for you because this is a common thing for people to eat here.  It is pronounced achakay (spelled atteke).  It is sort of like cous cous but it is made out of yam.  Oh and you eat it with your hand (right not left, that’s gross here!)  So you and another person have a plate of achakay to share.  You take from another plate some lightly sautéed onions and tomatoes and smash it into the “cous cous” so that it makes the “cous cous” stick together better to get into your mouth.  They also have a red spicy sauce to add and help it stick. And some grilled chicken on the bone.  I am very messy but I am so happy when I eat it.  You guys would be amazed at what we can make from scratch out here with our minimal resources.  There isn’t a lot of dairy out here, and yet we have bread and cake and ice cream.  It is amazing what you can do with milk powder and cocoa.

The next addition will include “a Day in the Life of a Journeyer” and “French/ Ivoirian faux pas”.  Stay tuned.  I love you, friend.  May God Bless you and keep you.
Until then. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Je suis en Afrique!

So after three plane rides and a 7 hour layover, we arrived in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.  Amazingly enough all of our luggage made it too!  As soon as we walked through customs, we were greeted by Angelika and Beckie.  Angelika and her husband Rod are the directors of Journey Corps and Beckie is our French teacher.  It is hot and humid here, even at 9pm when we first stepped out into the African air.  After loading up all our luggage we drove to a Christian school in Abidjan to stay for the night.  The next morning we left bright and early for Boauké where we will live for the next three or so months.  The drive north was beautiful and not too bumpy!  They have a great road that bridges the south to the north.  It is the end of the rainy season so everything is green and jungle like. 

So much has happened and I haven’t been able to completely process everything so this may be a little incoherent, like my thoughts.  I would actually love to hear what you guys would like to hear about and I can write accordingly.  If you want to hear about day to day activities or people or food or culture or language learning just let me know.  The internet is quite spotty so it takes a long time and we only have two hours a week to be on.  Due to this I will try to write my blogs ahead of time so I can just post them when I am actually able to connect to the internet.

As of now, all I will write is that I am loving my experience overall!  The school we are staying at it beautiful and huge!  It used to be a school for missionary kids, but when the war started in 2004 everyone had to be evacuated.  So it can be a bit eerie at times with all the empty dorms and classrooms.  It is crazy how much they had to do to get our dorm clean and ready for us to live in it.  Things fall apart and grow over really quickly here and I think some of our responsibilities will include cleaning up different buildings hopefully for future use.

We are going into the town for the first time today, so next time I can write, I will write about that experience.  For now, au revoir!

<3 love you,
heidi paige.