Observations from my 2nd week in Abidjan:
- This is apparently common to all developing countries, but there is no better feeling than breaking a large bill here. Change is almost impossible to come by, and one is in a constant state of worrying about having enough small bills.
- In meetings, Ivorians clap to demand silence.
- The internet is a bit slower than in the U.S., but usually stable and completely adequate for my daily needs. Netflix and Hulu do not work here; iTunes and Spotify work as normal.
- The traffic here reminds me a lot of Santa Cruz. There aren't a ton of cars on the road, but neighborhoods are spaced far apart and there are not enough roads to link it all.
- There is a lack of rules here that is both liberating and terrifying. On the good side, one can basically go wherever one wants with no consequences. I don't think an authority figure has told me not to do something since I arrived here two weeks ago. On the bad side, renting a house is terrifying; on Wednesday, we'll pay nine months of rent for our house, and we're concerned about the lack of legal recourse.
- There is a startling amount of conflicting and sometimes just bad information that circulates among ex-pats. Our housing search has been absolutely ludicrous. We'll find a house at a given price, and some people will tell us that the price sounds too good to be true, while others will be scandalized at how much we're overpaying. We likewise get contrasting information from our fellow ex-pats on acceptable modes of transportation, good/fun/safe neighborhoods, and the need for security guards.
- Two weeks into my stay here, I see poor neighborhoods differently. In my first few days, I would drive or walk through a poor neighborhood (and most neighborhoods are poor) and feel worried for my safety. Mostly though everyone is just going about their daily lives. Crime exists here, but I've yet to be targeted, and I've yet to have a legitimate reason for concern.
- Sheila tells me that people are far more accustomed to white people here than they were in Ghana or Burkina Faso. Most people don't look twice at us, although cab drivers honk at us in the hope that we're interested in a taxi (which we often are to be fair).
- There seems to be a decent quality pick-up basketball game at the Lycée Classique in Cocody.