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Back to civilisation… In France

2 Jan

2 days now since I got back to modern civilization as I knew it 2 months ago, and to a new winter cold. It is cold. It is very, very cold !! It is so cold that I have taken my warmest winter coat, my warmest winter gloves and my warmest winter scarf making me look like a frozen Eskimo lost in the city…

I may have complained about the Guinean heat during my stay in Bata. So be it. 40°C is very warm as 4°C is extremely cold !! You never get it perfect do you ? However, I’m beginning to tell myself that Sunday picnics on a perfectly warm beach may be a bit more charming than warming up my frozen toes with tea in a bar somewhere in the city… A tricky one.

Other than the weather, it was quite strange walking down the streets here today and having one of those Sunday brunches I so dearly missed. It is all so clean. So smelling of Chanel. Taking the metro. Seeing so many people around, stepping on each other, pushing and shoving to get out of the train or pass in and out doors, but, in what seemed to me, a rather polite way compared to this past couple of months experience…

Is it so, that once you get used to simple and rudimentary life conditions, everything else only seems like “too much” ? Or… maybe in 2 days, once I’ll be entering a giant Carrefour Market, or order a new iPhone 4, it will all come back to me in a flash… So far, looking around me and thinking that the “less” I’ve known actually feels quite nice compared to the abundant activity around me right now is rather an interesting feeling…

In any case, here I am. Paris. In cold winter times. A new job for the next few months to occupy my time, my intellect and my banking account. Will I go back to Africa for some more adventures ? Will I end up elsewhere on the globe ? I guess only 2011 will tell…

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Last day in Equatorial Guinea, Africa

31 Dec

My last day in E.G.

I’ve seen a lot, discovered a lot. Done not so much but yet, a lot… I don’t know how to end this blog other than say, thank you… Thank you hubby for giving me the opportunity to discover this yet unveiled to tourism part of the world. Thank you everyone for your support here, your time, amusement and your reassuring words when I needed it. For taking me along with you on your Sunday trips to discover far away beaches and coconut gifts. Thank you for your friendships and trust and I truly hope to see you all again. Thank you for reading and following me all throughout this voyage. It was fun… We should do it again soon… 🙂

Last day in Bata, Africa

31 Dec

(Due to no Internet last night, yesterday’s post has now become now today’s)…

Sunset on the Paseo, Bata

Sunset on the Paseo, Bata

This was my last day in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. Tomorrow at 5pm we are taking off to Malabo (Bioko Island) where we will be waiting for our Air -France flight to take off sometime past 11pm before wishing everyone on board a Happy New Year and merry Champagne. My first New Year’s Eve with my head in the sky and my man, hopefully not asleep at that precise moment, by my side. The Malabo International airport is small, very small. There are two bars, both empty and closed. There are two shops, two little booths where one can get a can of soda, water or beer and maybe some candy. If you count on doing your last shopping at the Malabo airport… don’t.

Bata International airport is even smaller. One hall, a handful of check-in desks and a few doors, so when you are told you should be there 3 hours before your flight just to make sure to board with your bags and not get left behind… You are allowed to freak out. Air-conditioning… I beg your pardon, “air” what ??…..

So on this last Bata day I have interviewed for a potential job. Have bought some more malaria pills and said goodbye to my Israeli doctor friends. Went for a last tour at the E.G.T.C supermarket, just for fun and was blessed with a small stock of Kinder Buenos. To end it, met with Anne, Pierre and Anne-Sophie for a last drink and food by the sea at the French Cultural Centre. No more Tuesday and Thursday post-karate drinks for me here… Simple things in my everyday Bata life that made it pleasurable.

Sunset on the Paseo, Bata

Sunset on the Paseo, Bata

Hearing the waves break in is something I will for sure miss. Sitting outside in December in linen pants and a tank top… That I miss already while still wearing it. Picnicking on the beach. I sense the meteorological drop Saturday morning will hit me hard…!!

It was sad saying goodbye to everyone I’ve met and grown to know and appreciate here. As I wrote yesterday… You tie bonds. Strong bonds. No matter the age, where you are from or what you do in life. When you get along with someone (as obviously you cannot click with everyone) the ties are strong and honest ones.

On this last night here, a concert was supposed to be on out on the Paseo. Some Bata night life as I was told there would be. The concert has not yet started as we passed by and we are now home, sitting in the dark with no electricity… probably just for me to appreciate it back at home in about 30 hours. If I say this moment has its charm, will you think I have gone completely mad or just going through an African melancholy…?

Chicken and pool in Africa…

29 Dec

Pool, Les Pagaies pool for most of the day. lounging in the water, bum up, head down or at times, the other way around facing the strong Guinean sun. The position to adopt is a decisive matter on a day such as this… Your happiness may depend on it. Or at least your well-being… Can’t feel that good with a slightly burnt left thigh now can you ? … Well, no you can’t !

I know I will be transformed into a snowman in only a few days so I am making the most of it and taking as much of it in as I can. Of the coconut trees all along the roads. The white sand beaches. The warm sea water and the cool pool one. Ball fights and water splashing and cool glass of afternoon wine by the pool…

Enjoying Anne-Sophie and Sylvain. Anne and Pierre. Philippe and his fabulous grilled chicken at the Kalao. Of everyone I’ve met since I got here and that I have now to part from. Some I may see again in Paris or elsewhere in the world as they pass by. It’s true that an expat community in far far away lands creates stronger bounds than random encounters. You can’t hide behind a mask. Who you really are comes to the surface the second you land on such a foreign ground and then, you try to survive and make a place for yourself somewhere far away from any reference you may know. So the connections you make with some people are genuine, honest and strong.

Despite the hard times it ends up not being so easy to part after all…

 

Meet the tailors in Africa

28 Dec
Bata Market

Bata Market

I couldn’t bear to leave Bata without a last little tour to the cloths market… which according to the (one existing) travel book, is one of Bata’s two main attractions… The first one being its nightlife…

I am still looking…

Hence, I’ve turned to the second… And so I did this afternoon. Together with Anne, we went by for a little farewell tour at the Bata attracti(ve) market.

My tailor

My tailor

We stopped at my couture tailor. Exchanged a few words. Admired his embroidery work (they may not know much and may not have a method for finishing cloths, but embroidery, that they know !). Took a picture that I will keep dearly and continued walking around, touching the fabric and trying to immerse myself in this atmosphere I will no longer know as from Friday…

The embroider

The embroider

I wish I could share with you the smells of this market. A mixture of cooked and rotten food and products. Of dust and mud. Sweat and heat… You can literally not walk through that market without transforming yourself into a human sponge… Needless to say, not very sexy and not a first-date spot to choose…

The market is also an African meltingpot. Whole of Africa meets, sells and saws in this little piece of land covered with cheap construction tiles that leave no room for the day light. Guinea. Senegal. Cameroon. Gabon. Congo and other countries are all represented at this market. All the fabric comes from abroad. Mainly from Cameroon as far as my knowledge takes me… The tailors from all over. The “Prête à Porter” clothing, I’d guess mainly from China…

What I really like here are the colors… All these colorful patterns. Round shapes and lines. Bright colors or pastel. Metres and metres of fabric lining up and ready to be cut and shaped.

It’s like walking into an art gallery…

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