Arrival in Côte d'Ivoire

Trip Start Jan 13, 2013
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Trip End Feb 04, 2013


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Where I stayed
Ibis Plateau

Flag of Cote D  , Lagunes,
Monday, January 14, 2013

The flight to Abidjan left on time and arrived on time at a little after 7:00 pm. The flight was very full; no empty seats that I could see. Air France has some of the smallest passenger-space dimensions of any major airline. The French in general are careful to watch their weight and stay trim, so they need less space and Air France calculates accordingly. Americans and others who are less careful have to make do. I was seated next to a fairly corpulent Italian man, and I'm not small, so we had to do some shifting to accommodate each other during the 5 ˝-hour flight. I dozed on an off since I hadn’t slept much the night before.

I watched the flight map and saw that we flew almost directly over Mopti in Mali, which I visited a few years back. The French army has just intervened in Mali to push back the al shabaab Islamic extremists who have taken over the north of the country and are pressing toward taking Mopti on their way to the rest of the country, which has been quite friendly to the West in the past. It was easy, enjoyable, and safe by African standards to travel there even just a few years ago.

I was seated toward the front of the cabin so I was in the airport and in line for the health desk right after the First and Business Class passengers. The health official checked my Yellow Fever card and waved me on. Then we waited in line to have our passports and visas checked. The agents electronically took our right and left index finger prints, and then our photo, which they checked against their files. Clearing that hurdle, we waited for our luggage, which we had to run through a large X-ray machine before finally being allowed in the country. I found a woman holding up a Pullman, Novotel, Ibis sign (three hotels part of the same chain) and she took me to an area where other clients were waiting and had me fill out a card. The wait was pretty long, over half an hour. Finally we were ushered outside to the mini-bus, where we loaded out suitcases and boarded thinking we’d be leaving right away. In the event we waited another half an hour in and around the bus in the tropical heat for passengers from another flight.

I was amused to see the Christmas decorations in the arrival hall. There was fake snow and icicles hanging from the walls, and lights everywhere, some constant some twinkling. I pondered the decision for a country just out of civil war, with major infrastructure reconstruction issues to spend so much on Christmas lights, but no doubt we the passengers were paying for them out of our airport taxes and fees….

As we drove into Abidjan, I saw the streets were also lined with large Christmas tree light displays; the whole way into town, which must be ten or twelve miles. That is a lot of lights. We passengers in the bus were asked to which hotels we were going. Then we were dropped by order of importance, most expensive hotel first, then the next, then finally the Ibis. This hotel has recently been refurbished and actually looks quite nice, pretty good value for money.

Paul and Michel Tia were waiting for me in the lobby, so we greeted each other and talked about our families for several minutes and about our plans for the next weeks and the next day in particular. I didn’t keep them long since they had a ways to travel by local transportation and that gets more difficult the later the time. We agreed to meet at 10:00 in the morning to make the trip out to the village of La Mé to visit the members there and see how things are going. I just informed last week that some of the members in La Mé have made the decision to leave our church association and return to the previous, but no one has told me why or given me any information about what their reasons might be so we will try to find out and see if we can help in any way.
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Comments

Mary on

Hi Joel,

We're glad to hear you had a safe trip and were able to see the Tias. What a surprise to hear of all the decorations. We pray that you'll have productive conversations with the members and be encouraged.

Regards,
Mary

Tess Washington on

Good to know that you've arrived safely in Abidjan...changes do happen fast...Mali is going through difficult times! We'll pray for a successful meeting with everyone in Abidjan!

Ken on

I'm late getting caught up on your current trip. We prayer the meetings are productive!

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