In mid-October I was transferred from Daloa down to Tabou, a small town located on the Atlantic coast of Côte d’Ivoire, overlooking the Gulf of Guinea, just a few kilometres from the Liberian border. This is what Tabou looks like:
On Sunday I sometimes play volleyball with our staff:
As for our base, which serves as both home and office, this is part of the fleet of seven vehicles I manage:
This is the office:
It’s not always bright and blue here. This is what the house looks like in the rain, complete with a doctor’s vain attempt to not get completely soaked on her way there:
Outside of work hours, my favourite activity when I’m in Kindu is to go out to the UN base at the airport in the evening to play volleyball with UN soldiers, staff, and other NGO workers. They play seven days a week, so if I’m able to leave the office on time (which was easily possible the first two months of my stay) I can play every single day! Before or after volleyball, I sometimes use their gym for a quick workout as well.
This is the laterite road from town toward the airport:
These are Bolivian soldiers playing football while I was working out in the gym before volleyball. Some of them would come straight from a long football match to play volleyball with us.
Carlos (a Bolivian lieutenant) in action while Nito (a Uruguayan corporal), Patricia (an Italian NGO worker), and Solène (a French Merlin employee) look on:
Diego (Uruguayan civilian UN water treatment specialist) in action:
The sand volleyball court is lit up once night falls so we can continue playing. That’s me in the red Vietnam shirt in the background:
Since the games start around 6pm and last about an hour and a half, we see quite a few sunsets while playing, and sometimes the sky does crazy things like this:
The volleyball games are great because everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming and supportive, regardless of the skill level of the different people who come to play. I’ve been learning a bit of Spanish because so many of the regulars are South Americans who speak very little English. I now automatically keep score in Spanish rather than English, and I never yell “out!” anymore but “fuera!” instead!
Earlier today I ended up on the ground, covered in sand, the salty taste of blood in my mouth, having been punched in the face by a MONUC soldier in Kindu. Check out the cut on the inside of my upper lip, which is now swollen:
I should probably clarify that we were both on the same team in a friendly volleyball game. The generator that powered the lights broke down, so we were left in the dark on the outdoor volleyball court. Although it was pitch black and we couldn’t see anything, we still encouraged the other team to serve one last time before we all left for the night, and it turns out that two of us both had the natural instinct to find the ball in the darkness.
We slammed into each other at running speed and his fist accidentally smashed into the side of my face, which was followed by lots of laughter from both of us.