Since I left Ethiopia I have been trying to get back to living on the African continent. Last year I moved to Egypt but found that it is more Arabic in culture than African so it was a bit disappointing. This is not to say that you won’t enjoy your visit here but for me it meant I would eventually move on. In November I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to leave Egypt and applied to 4 schools on the continent. I was blessed with a job offer from an international school in a country I knew next to nothing about but after some research I decided to take the risk. First, it would allow me to return to high school and second now I can visit more countries in West Africa which I have been wanting to do since I visited Ghana back in 2015. I’m so excited to announce that I will be moving to Côte d’Ivoire in August for at least the next 3 years.
I just got back from a visit to see the school and the country and let me tell you it was money well spent (Biggie Irie #socajunkie ) even though it was a short visit . You see the most stressful thing about Cairo for me has been my living situation and adjusting to the dirtiness of the city so I wanted to have an idea of what to expect in my new home. I also used it as an opportunity to drop off some of my stuff so I could bring more hair, skin and food products in August. Côte d’Ivoire is a new country for me, I had never been there before and knew very little about the country except that it is a francophone country meaning they speak French. I wasn’t sure what to expect; I knew from my research that the country had been in a war in 2011 and was still coming back from this and developing. Here’s what I observed in my short visit. It reminds me of Ethiopia and Uganda in that some areas are more developed than others. It’s greener than I expected in some places, for instance on the way to the airport I saw plots of land with flowers and plants for sale, coconut trees, and a stretch of plots of land that different people were farming on. In the distance I saw buildings in the downtown area and in the neighborhood closer to the school and the guest house where I stayed there were some unpaved roads, outdoor market areas and some trash in the streets. The city is not that modern in some places there are no real sidewalks, and like the Caribbean some of the buildings are older and in need of sprucing up.
I didn’t see a lot of the city but I was able to see my apartment which was important to me so I can manage my expectations. My apartment is on the first floor, it has a big balcony and there’s a pool in the complex outside my balcony. The apartment is a good size, it’s not that fancy but it has really high ceilings and the dining room has lime green cushions which adds a splash of color and the current tenant (the outgoing HS counselor) had the couch cushions covered in a similar color🤗 which is a nice touch. The bathroom is small and not very fancy at all, it will need some work because there is no separated, defined shower space. The toilet is just next to the shower so it gets wet when you shower 🤦🏾♀️😢 and I like my bathroom to be nice. I will bring stuff from the US to make it nicer and add shelves, a curtain rod for a shower curtain and put fabric around the mirror to make it feel cosy. Because the balcony of the apartment looks out on the pool, there is not much natural light so I will need to get lamps and curtains made. While the apartment is close enough to the school, it takes 20 to 30 minutes walking so I will either carpool or take a taxi to work because it’s not walking distance for me 🤪. The school buildings are old but well maintained, the campus reminds me of public schools in Caribbean where you are outside every time you leave a classroom or an office. There will be some renovations this summer, they’re redoing the bathrooms this summer👏🏾🙌🏾and adding cover to the basketball courts and bleachers by the swimming pool. My office is nice💃🏾and big, has a couch, a window and space for students to come in and work on college applications. I had the chance to meet the seniors, they seemed nice and organized and it was so nice to see so many brown faces. The outgoing counselor is really nice, we connected and we will keep in touch. The staff I met including both elementary and middle school counselors were very welcoming, it is a true international community unlike the school where I currently work in Egypt where most of the students are local. The school is into recycling which is great; in the cafeteria they give you real plates and cutlery. The library is a nice space. I think it will be a good place to work. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures, it just seemed inappropriate at the time while I was meeting people.
The nurse told me to remember focus on the good things about the country if I want to enjoy my time there so I will. The beaches are about 45 minutes to an hour and a half away. The middle school counselor has already given me her recommendations so I plan to spend a lot of time at the beach. The weather was great the second day but because it’s the rainy season there were downpours the first day and because the road of my apartment is unpaved I may need rain boots. I saw coconuts being sold on the side of the street which made me 😋and for breakfast I ate some tasty mangoes and pineapples and had some really great fish for dinner. There is a nearby mall with a huge supermarket with all types of foods and wine and alcohol so I think I will be good as it relates to food. I already saw beautiful fabrics and clothes that I will be buying and wearing. My personal goal is to get out more socially; at least once a month and possibly date 🤔but I will be slow in this area. One of the questions the students asked me is what countries I want to visit in the region. I plan to go back to Ghana, then visit Senegal, Cabo Verde, Nigeria, The Gambia, and Liberia to start. While I am sure it will be an adjustment initially because there are no delivery services for food and groceries (don’t judge me – I have gotten used to this in Cairo 😏) I think I will enjoy my time in Côte d’Ivoire otherwise known as the Ivory Coast. While I was leaving two different officers at the airport asked me if I spoke French and the second one wanted to know why 🤷🏾♀️I told him I was American and he nodded as if this was reason enough lol.
So while Ivory Coast is not as I would have imagined, and I will definitely need to learn french to survive outside of school especially with the taxis, I know it is a great move professionally and personally. I’m glad I spent the money to go visit, see the school and the apartment so I know what to expect and what I need to do to make it a home. I am looking forward to new beginnings in my 6th country,😮to working with those lovely students, making new friends and increasing my list of countries visited. #newbeginnings #BlackExpat #travelismytherapy #livingmybestlife #wanderlust #travelincolor #iloveafrica #Dopelife #TravelNoire #blacktravelmovement #blackwomenwhotravel #blackwomenwhoblog #blackandabroad