Sunday, January 18, 2009

Paging Mr. Bond

If, back when Sean Connery was playing Bond, the producers had decided to set some dastardly plan to hold the world hostage for $1,000,000 in exotic West Africa, they would have chose Abidjan. And Bond would have stayed at the Hotel Ivoire.

The 60's was Abidjan's heyday. And the architecture reflects that. But no place really gets the 60's sensibility of "modern" Africa better than the Hotel Ivoire. Bond would have walked by the ice-skating rink(!), worked out in the gym, dined in the rooftop restaurant and probably met CIA agent Felix Lieter at the bar in the bowling alley for a Vodka Martini.

The pictures do not do justice to the level of neglect the Hotel Ivoire has suffered. The pictures make the place look terrific. But if you could see it in real life - well it is in serious need of a major remodel. In fact, it has been bought and it's said the investors plan to bring Hotel Ivoire back to it's former glory. I hope, really hope, they keep the 60's motif. It would be a crime to just rip it all out.

The people over here on the right bowling are all embassy folks. We made up half of the patrons, and I assure you the place can easily handle 200. You can get really good burgers here - but they ran out so I got a club sandwich instead.

The bowling balls turned our hands black. So, we all went to wash our hands. Some people made the mistake of going to the restrooms in the rear and down the stairs. The lights don't work, the rooms are "sweaty," and because they originally served the ice rink, they have rubber matting. It really makes you feel you stand a good chance of being axed by a psycho killer while using them.

Here's the scoring board from a league game from a few years back. One of the staff told us that they haven't had a league in 4 years. I think this board pre-dates that.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Ram of the American People

Meet Boule (pronounced Bow-Lay) the Ram of the American People. He was given by the people of Boule, Cote d'Ivoire to a visiting high-up American official. He was supposed to be lunch, but somehow ended up at the home of two of our embassy's officers. The first thing they did was give him a bath. Then a hair cut. He is one snazzy looking ram.

Note Boule's horns. If you get butted head-on (which happened to me) it doesn't really hurt since you're getting mostly forehead. If you get a side-butt (which happened to me) you get a nice bruise on your leg from the horns. So, his caretaker jokingly requested I knit Boule some cozies for his horns.
Honestly, I don't think they will really help protect anyone from those horns. In fact, the pointy ends kept poking out of the cozies. Several people have suggested stuffing bubble wrap in the cozies.

And the cozies were too long, despite the fact that I had measured very carefully.
Still I like the pom-poms.

I was originally going to do buttons to keep the cozies on, but I couldn't master button holes. So, I used ribbons instead. I had originally thought that ribbons would be too humiliating for the ram, but let's face it. He's wearing cozies. What could be worse? In the end, he didn't seem to mind. He got some popcorn, and that's all that really matters to a goat/ram.

Meine Geburtstag

No, I'm not dating! This is the owner of Le Bavarois (the Bavarian) or Wa Wi as it is commonly called. He was so delighted when 22 people showed up for what would have otherwise been a very slow Saturday after Christmas that he went home, changed into his lederhosen and returned.

Saturday, December 27 was my 43rd birthday. And yes, I spent it in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire in a German Restaurant where the whole staff speaks French. Such the international evening!
The sausages are fantastic, the hollandaise sauce could use some work. Though they have a tap, there is no keg attached. The staff stand behind the tap, crack open the cans, and fill up your big glass. But it is real German beer and it is nice and cold. One of the marine's commented that the sauerkraut was not as good as his mom's - but how can you compete with mom?
For the record, I received pot holders, a Vienna t-shirt (where I'll be for birthday 2009), and icicle-style Christmas lights. Some of the young people then went out dancing. I went home and made some phone calls. It was a good birthday.