Sunday, December 9, 2012

Trip to Ivory Coast

By Greg:

John Mahama, elected President of Ghana
Well, the election here is over. It appears that President John Mahama (who became president upon the death of John Atta Mills earlier this year) has been elected in a fair, peaceful and proper election.  When we were down in Jamestown one man came to me and told me how much Africans love President Obama.  He said, “Now Ghana can be America, and America can be Ghana.” I think he meant that we will become “brothers” not that America and Ghana will trade places.  One thing we do have in common is we both have black presidents whose fathers lived in Africa under the colonial rule of Great Britain.


We went to Cote d’Ivorie this week end.  The trip there was so much nicer than the trip to Lagos, Nigeria.  First off, we flew on Emirates Airline.  Was that a treat!  It was the biggest airplane I have ever been on.  It was an Airbus 9000000, or something like that.  It had two Rolls Royce engines on both wings.  I snap a picture and almost got thrown in jail.  It is against the law to take pictures at the airport or of government and military places.  I really should go to jail.

The big plane was so smooth.  It felt like we were on a magic carpet ride with Aladdin and Jasmine.   It truly was “a whole new world.”

The plane came from Dubai and stopped in Accra and Abidjan.  Then back again and off to Dubai.  We had a one hour flight but the plane was so nice I wanted to stay on and go to Dubai.  I noted that Emirates flies from Dubai to Seattle.  I thought if I stayed on then I could hitch-hike from Seattle.  Ha, ha!


We were in economy and they started us out with a warm wash cloth to wipe our hands and face.  Then a short lunch—grilled vegetable sandwich, juice and fruit going, something else coming back. We saw the business class section, but the First Class was off limits and we could not even see in there.  I think each seat had its own restroom.  Ha, ha!


While in Cote d’Ivorie we met with our Assistant Area Auditor.  This is a French speaking country.  Thank goodness the Area Seventy and the AAA both spoke English.  But as I was training him on the computer I was shocked to find his computer only spoke French.  Now, I know that with one key stroke I could have changed that, but it was his and so I used two computers and looked at mine and then his and that way I could tell him what he was looking at. 
We took him and his wife to dinner Friday night.  The Area 70 recommended a Chinese restaurant. They had never eaten Chinese before.  What a sight.  Two Americans in French Ivory Coast with two French Speaking Ivoirians (only one of which could speak English) eating at a Chinese Restaurant!

Brother Bouchiley had long waited for us to come and train him.  He wrote to us and said that he was “in high feathers” that we were finally coming and that “by the grace of God” he had obtained a computer.  He is a very wonderful man and very dedicated to his calling.  I hope now he is also very prepared to do it.


Debi is going to talk about our observations of the country, but I will make two comments, first, it was a bigger city and there were no Tro-tros, and second, there were armed police/army guys everywhere.  They were fully armed and driving around in trucks looking for people taking pictures at the airport!

Bigger City with bigger buildings than Accra.

By Debi:


First of all, Greg bought his first item duty free. We were in the airport in Cote d ‘Ivoire and He bought a package of pretzels and some imported chocolates.  Good thing it wasn’t a diamond or something because I left them on the plane.  The day I stop doing study things will be the happiest day of my life. (Memo from Greg--Debi is too hard on herself, I put them in the overhead compartment--anyway, no big deal!)

The pictures don’t give the city of Abidjan, Corte d ‘Ivoire justices.  The city is really green with lots of beautiful trees and flowers and lakes. But there is a lot of smog.  That is one thing that has really surprised me in Accra.  All of the buses and Tro-tros are constantly spewing out black smoke but there isn’t any smog.  When we arrived in Abidjan the smog was pretty bad. Even though a lot of things felt the same as Ghana there were definitely differences.


All of the signs were in French and obviously the people all spoke French.  We were led to believe that a lot of people speak English and we would be all right.  Well, most of the people don’t speak English and we were total in the dark most of the time we were there.  Thankful we had a shuttle pick us up from the airport.  Although neither of the men driving the shuttle spoke English they had our name on a sign so we got in the van.  This is where faith comes into play.  Usually I wouldn’t get into a van with two strangers who do not speak my language and I don’t really know for sure where they are taking us.   

Thankfully we made it to the hotel and everything turned out just fine. Greg mentioned that he taught the Assistant Area Auditor on his computer in French.  I am so proud of Greg.  He just jumped right in and started figuring out the French word for each command on the computer and he did an excellent job.  By the time Greg was finished with the training I thought he looked a little more French.

This is not the French Greg, however.

There were a lot of Mosques.  Most of them were small but this beautiful one was right by the motorway. 


Right in the middle of the city we saw thatched roofs and weaved palm leaf fences along the highway.

While in the country we took four taxi rides.  This was really hard as they are small, dirty, and about ready to fall apart.  But they cost 4,000 Francs each time.

French Polynesia?

The hotel we stayed in was the Tiamra.  It is a very beautiful hotel.  It had some wonderful African wood carvings in the entry and foyer.  They also have a very fancy restaurant were we had breakfast.




There were hawkers in Corte d ‘Ivoire and they sold all kinds of things.  We also saw several men all painted and standing like a statue right in the middle of the street in the very hot sun.  The one man had a bowl on his head for contributions.Yes, that is a plastic wading swimming pool behind him.  We thought, hey we could use one of those! 

We also saw a truck packed with pineapples going to the market.


When we arrived back in Accra Greg was able to sneak a picture of this sign.  We saw this sign the very first time we arrived at the airport in Accra.  This sign is right behind the immigration booths where they check your passport and take your picture and your finger prints.  By this time you are feeling pretty much like you have been booked into jail and sentenced to a life doing hard time.  The very next thing you see is this sign.


Actually we were very impressed.  The country of Ghana does not tolerate much here and they have very strong beliefs.  All of their signs and names of their businesses and in their speech they talk of God and living Christian and Muslim values very openly.  

This wood rino was huge, as big as me. 

As we were driving back to our apartment it felt good to be back to a place where we can understand the language and the people.  Even though we have had a lot of adjustments we are getting better at living here in Ghana.


This carving was also as tall as me.

One more thing from Greg:

We met with our friend Paul today with the Elders.  We taught him the lesson on the commandments.  He already lives all of them!  The District Leader interviewed him and he passed.  So as of right now, he will be baptized at 9:00 am on Saturday.  He had a major setback yesterday.  He lost his phone.  He called me last night and was in a panic.  All of his business information was on his phone.  It reminded me of when my friend Spencer lost his phone in Boston.  Spencer really did have all his life on his phone, and was just about ready to lose both.  Well Paul felt like his life was over.  I told him the Devil doesn’t want him to be baptized.  If stealing his phone is all it takes, he will do that.  Well, we have helped him get a new phone and we will talk to him each day this week and try to keep the Devil away!


  1. Oh my goodness, that sign is awesome! If only it was as easy as that. I'm glad you're 'back' safe.

  2. What an adventure. I loved reading and seeing it all. I love you guys and am so glad you are safe.