Monday, June 30, 2008

More Views of the Cathedral

These photos date from early November 2007.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Everybody's Hustling -- In A Good Sense of the Word

In Abidjan, everybody's hustling. I don't mean this in the bad sense of the word. This a country where, if you are uneducated and lucky enough to have a job, perhaps you make U. S. $2.00/day. Maybe you can only make $1.00, and that might or might not be enough to buy enough food to keep you going.

The lady below is just one of hundreds I saw by the side of the road carrying on their produce business on their heads. I'm not sure where people get what they are selling. If this were Samoa, it would have been from garden plots they have outside town. Maybe these people come in for the day from villages. Maybe they buy their goods from relatives or friends -- in effect, from a wholesaler. I was told that many of the people selling pineapples go down to the wharves very early in the morning and get their pineapples free because the fruit they are given has been deemed toi ripe to ship.
How people manage a living always fascinates me. It also makes me realize how lucky I am.

The next two photos are of street salesmen selling their wares. There's a bridge in Abidjan where traffic goes very slowly, and as the cars creep along, young salesmen like these walk slowly by cars, trying to make eye contact with the drivers, and trying to sell whatever they are carrying..

It looks like this first young man is selling photo frames and "Welcome" door mats. He has lots of competition because the other young man in the picture below the first is selling the same things. They're probably just two of dozens with identical wares.

I saw alarm clocks, tool kits, boxes of kleenex, paintings and many other items being sold by these young men. I was told that most of them are from other countries, have no education, and work in this line of business simply because they have no other way to earn enough to pay for their daily food and accommodations. You have to admire anyone with enough fortitude to get out there in the strong, hot sun and work like this.

And you have to realize that this is a desperate business. If you don't sell enough during the day, you won't have enough for food that evening and the next morning. My overall impression of Cote d'Ivoire is that although there are some very wealthy people there, the majority of the population lives very close to the edge.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More Streetside Commerce Photos

What my photos cannot capture is the heat. Despite the temperature being in the high eighties to high nineties Farenheit, people are carrying on strenuous labor even at noon. You can see in several of these photos that the guys are not stripped down to shorts without a shirt, the way they would be in Samoa. They are fully dressed the way we in Northern California would be if it were a pleasant spring day.

Everywhere you look, guys are trundling these carts, delivering goods to one place or another. Well, that's one way to beat the high price of gasoline. If things get worse here in Oakland, California, we may all be doing the same thing !

Women are out there, working, too. I saw many of them selling time on cell phones, selling vegetables, selling eggs (as above).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Caimans in Cote d'Ivoire

When we were in Yamosoukro, Cote d'Ivoire's fairly new capital, Benjamin suggested that we go
see the caimins. These are large crocodiles said to resemble alligators. A large lagoon in front of the President's home is a hangout for a great many of these creatures. One or two local fellows come to feed the caimins late each afternoon, and the caimins, knowing this, throng to the spot. Dinner isn't a sure thing for all of them, only the largest ones. The smaller ones just lie about, hoping against hope to get a small scrap, which they usually don't.

Here are some photos of what we saw at feeding time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ivory Coast Bodybuilders

Here are some tough hombres, five Ivory Coast bodybuilders who competed in the "Woody 2007" bodybuilding competition. "Woody," as I understand it, means about the same as "tough hombre."
I was in Ivory Coast for a number of reasons. One was that I am known internationally for my fitness and physique photos. Because Ivory Coast has such good -- and totally unknown -- bodybuilders, I was trying to asssist them in getting known on the world stage. I also wanted to get photos for an eventual photo book of the country. And I have to confess that I really needed a change and a vacation.
Incidentally, the fellow in the middle of these five bodybuilders is Seid, the current Mr. Ivory Coast. The fellow on the left, Madou, just might end up as this year's Mr. Ivory Coast.