After several delays and troublesome airport time at Tunis, I’ve finally arrived in Abidjan! After a swift passport, security and vaccination – check, I was picked up by Mrs. Lorette Elias, the head of the school, and one brother (in Cote d’Ivoire, everyone refers to each other as brother/sister, uncle/auntie 😉 ). They had been waiting in the car in front of the airport for five hours until 05:30am, just to pick me up and bring me directly to the school.
At the school, I first met Lorette’s husband, Werner, who had moved to Cote d’Ivoire already in 1975 as a missionary. He showed me his musical collection and the string instruments he was building. His vision since one year is to create a school orchestra.
Oata, who is a maths teacher here, took me round the school and showed me the various rooms and material. I will write more about the school at a later time.
It’s difficult to describe in words how I feel right now, the situation I’m in. Imagine yourself in a four million people city, not understanding a word more than “Bonjour”, or “Akwaba”. Everywhere looks the same: rough, bumpy roads, often just dirt roads, buildings that are falling apart, or aren’t finished building, and never will be; I took a taxi back home today, asked the driver what road we were driving on. He didn’t know. Up until three years ago, there were no street names at all. So the situation felt like starting at zero, tabula rasa, my memory wiped, like a helpless baby.
At the same time, I met so many people who took immediate care of me, taking me round, inviting me for lunch and dinner; I’m staying at a guest family, who treat me very well. I prefer this experience to being alone at a hotel. This way, I can immerse in the true culture of the people here. I share a room with the youngest son of the family, Rodrigue. They feed me well, too. J
So, in total my first impression is somewhere between “Where the streets have no name” and “Mama Africa”; there are people I can trust, and despite my irritating, infantilising ignorance – I can say I am motivated to study hard and prepare for the beginning of the school year, September 16th. I’m a beginner, and there’s a steep learning curve. But I am ready for it, because, in the truest sense, I still go to school.
The most important people are still missing: kids are starting school on September 16th!