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. 


  1. Careful with those motorbikes!

  2. Heids,
    So fun! Remember, it takes awhile to develop an ear for the language, and you are just learning it from scratch. The food you are eating sounds very interesting. Not so sure about eating with your hands but def a new experience. Miss you bunches!