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The PikeStance Experience

Part IV: Jetsetter [Africa] [THEN AND NOW SERIES}

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Part IV: Jetsetter [Africa]
THEN AND NOW SERIES

I had two advantures on the continent of Africa.
In 2000 I was a Peace Corps Volunteer
In 2006- 2008 I was a teacher at the international school.
Both were in Beautiful Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

In 2000, I joined the Peace Corps. We met in Philadelphia for initial training and a chance to get to know everyone. We were there for about three days. We then took a bus to New York and flew out on Air Afrique which I heard went out of business. It was more or less direct to Abidjan. We had a brief stopover, but I honestly do not remember where. We arrived early in the morning and took a bus to a Catholic retreat facility. The bus ride was interesting. It seems the whole ride there were people lined along side the road seemingly doing nothing. In fact, someone commented that he never saw so many people standing around doing nothing. When we arrived we found out we would be put in "barracks" and we were not divided my gender which seems odd given it was a "Catholic" retreat facility. Oddly, no one cared.

We were divided into three groups: "Engineering," Education, and administration. The "engineering" group would go to the most remote areas and work on sanitation projects. The Administrative group would work in various government offices and would most likely work in larger villages or small towns offices. My group, education group, were in charge with developing programs to keep young girls in school while not alienating the boys.

After about a week of beginner French classes, we were introduced to our host families that we would live with for the remainder of our training.
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This was my family. I had a single bed in a small room with a window without glass. They also provided a mosquito net that fit over the bed. The head of the household was actually the director of the school nearby. He spoke and understood English but he absolutely refused to speak English to me. His son was in high school and he loved to learn English. The mother made delicious meal. I never ate well. It was a little uncomfortable because I usually sat alone at the table while the "dad" sat on the floor eating. I felt like a colonist. I never weird thing was taking a shower. Now, they did have running water, but it was a faucet on the side of the house. My "shower" was a bucket and a cup. Curiously, they put it near the street. So that I stood taking my "shower" and I can watch people walk up and down the street. I did crouch down, but you could only do that for so long. The latrine was a "hole" in the ground. If you did "number 2" you needed to bring a cup of water to wash down any misses.

The best part of each evening was when the cousin would come by. For at least an hour he drilled me on French. His name was Claude. We exchange letters once, but then I never heard from him since. I regret on my second time in the country not seeking him or this family out. If I ever make it back to the Ivory Coast, it is definitely on my things to do.

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This is me outside the local shop.

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There is a story behind this picture. I took out my camera to take a picture of the shop and the two shop keepers. The guy in purple freaked out and ran out and ran out while the guy in white kept saying "no, no." I though I committed some horrible faux pas. AS it turned out, the guy went home and changed into his "Sunday best" After catching his breath, this was the picture I took. It was all smiles after that.

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One thing for certain is that I really enjoyed getting to know my fellow trainees. The picture on the right is one good friend I had over there with our French teacher. The pictures does her no justice. She was absolutely stunning in person. Yes, I ad a serious crush on her. The picture on the left are two other trainees. We are enjoying a beer after a torrential rainstorm that we were caught in.

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Above is a picture of a classroom. The holes in the wall allowed a nice cross breeze which kept the classroom quite comfortable. I should note that Ivorian go to school in the morning and then later in the afternoon; avoiding the midday sun and heat. Plus, the school does not have to provide a lunch. We were told that not all of the students would return for the afternoon session.

My Peace Corps stint ended when I received word that my mother were seriously ill. Oddly enough I would return.

To be continue....

Updated May 07, 2015 at 10:45 AM by PikeStance

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