Friday, May 31, 2013

A Streaker in Abidjan

First off, thank you so much to those of you who weighed in on which logo we should use for our Six (6? Six?) Bougies brand... tons of people "voted" on facebook, instagram, pinterest, and the blog... 

It is currently a close tie between #2 and #5, with #1 in third place. Megan and I haven't made a final decision, but it's been awesome getting so much feedback! I devised a somewhat complex scoring system and have been tallying up ;) Not obsessive, or anything....

Original post here. Vote away!

Feel free to continue giving us your opinion, we would love to hear!

Today is the last day in the Blog Every Day in May challenge. If I post today, I will have participated at about 68%... not too shabby?! Certainly better than my usual 8 posts per month... maybe. It may sound silly, but this challenge was actually quite pivotal for me. Before jumping on the bandwagon, I wasn't very dedicated to this blog and I was super-nervous about "putting myself out there" – my writing, my aspirations, my desire to actually meet people via blogging. I was also in a pretty miserable place with my job.

This challenge provided me with an outlet for my stress, opening my eyes to the therapeutic qualities of blogging. It also spurred me to really jump all in to the project Megan and I had been casually talking about for months... and we're really doing it now! So exciting :) I see a light at the end of the (employment) tunnel...

* * *

Anyways, the last prompt is to share a vivid memory. After much thought I don't really feel like getting serious today, so I thought I would share a ridiculous tidbit from one of my recent work trips.



Coke in Abidjan: "A million reasons to believe in Africa."

I will not beposting a picture relevant to this post ;)

On my last jaunt across West Africa, I spent one week in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire, accompanied by a Senegalese baking technician. Our task is to travel around the city performing technical demonstrations in bakeries – some planned ahead of time, some not. These trips tend to be a whirlwind of activity, with a lot of time spent in the baking underbelly of the city, with mostly (if not all) men... for reference, this bakery dialogue took place in Abidjan.

A few days into the trip, we are driving to the headquarters of a very large bakery chain, down a leafy side street in an upscale neighborhood, in the basement of a building under construction. Slightly sketch, but actually a very established business run by a Lebanese family. We'd been there a few times before.

As we drive into the parking lot, one of the workers (baking or construction, I do not know) is prancing around the small parking lot completely. stark. naked.

From a distance, it wasn't obvious... but driving up. Yeah. He had just showered and seemed to think this parking lot was a men's locker room. I suppose they aren't used to seeing women on a regular basis (though there was a female secretary!). Or he was crazy.

I did not know what to do. He had spotted me in the car and wasn't covering up... I couldn't pretend not to notice him, and I definitely did not want to make eye contact or appear to be staring. I didn't want the people around to start watching this *hilarious* encounter with a white woman and snicker at me. We were only a few feet away from the man, so I did what any normal human being would do: crouched in my seat and shielded my eyes. Because apparently I'm a Puritan who is scarred by nudity.

But really?!

My work companion, the Senegalese baking consultant, starts swearing profusely at this man's gaul.  "F*ckhk#$Jjkjfdkj#$J!!!!!" He yelled out the window.

I'm stuck in the crouch position. We park but can't get out of the car. I am NOT walking by this naked man with a group of men watching me avert my eyes.

Finally, our driver rolls down the window and screams,

"WE ARE WITH A WOMAN. SHE IS EMBARRASSED. VERY EMBARRASSED. PLEASE MAKE YOURSELF DECENT"

A more direct translation would be, 

"THE WOMAN IS ASHAMED. SHE IS ASHAMED! COVER YOURSELF!"

And so he did. And then I came out of the fetal position and strutted my stuff into that building like it ain't no thing, blushing cheeks and all. 

Oh, to be a woman working in a man's world. A Western woman, at that.

Fodder for the memoir ;)

P.S. You would be shocked at the number of naked crazy men you see walking around Douala and Abidjan in broad daylight. Its obviously sad that these people with mental health issues aren't being taken care of, but is also quite jarring to stumble upon multiple times in the day. But you do! Craziness.

On that note, goodnight and farewell, Blog Every Day in May Challenge!

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