The next day was spent at my couchsurfing host's cousin's place. My French was still very basic, but they were having the most hilarious conversations which I could still understand with my rudimentary French. The sexual innuendos were pretty obvious. They warned me of "bazookas" in Abidjan saying that my Kenyan sensibilities might not be mentally prepared for the heavy laden Mandingos from the West...Hilarious! Women the world over are as naughty as can be.
In the evening I went to church with Esther - my host. She had choir practice and I wanted to listen in. Unfortunately the choir master didn't show up and practice was cancelled. We went back home. This was to be my last night at Esther's as I was moving into my apartment the next day. I packed that night. I had already began to make some interesting observations in Abidjan - though everyone made and ate extremely oily food, people were generally slim. In my time in Abidjan I also saw that weaves prevailed. I can't remember seeing more than 5 women with natural hair when I was there. In fact I remember people assuming that my dreadlocks were braids because people just did not have locs in Abidjan. Another thing I had also noticed was just how warm, kind and inviting Ivorians are.
The next day, Esther took me to my new place. The pictures I had seen online were amazing but when we got to the building I was a bit shocked. The outside looked very sketchy and the building itself was very worn. My apartment was on the 2nd floor and on getting in I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was even more beautiful than what the online pics showed. It was just in a dodgy looking building, but the apartment itself was very pretty, huge, modern and tastefully designed. I knew I would be quite happy living there. It dawned on me almost instantly that this would be the first time in my life living completely alone. At MIT I had been part of a co-ed fraternity. I had lived in a huge house with 40 roommates. Although I had my own room, that doesn't count as living alone. During all my internships in Germany I had lived with roommates or rented part of a house. As such I had never really lived alone. In Kenya I live with my mum and my sister in the house I grew up in. I realized I was going to have to put on my grown girl panties and figure out how to run a house. I was excited but slightly nervous, "What if I get lonely? Aaaaah, I will just throw lots of parties, but what if I end up feeling like Jay Gatsby, surrounded by lots of people but still alone? Oh well, I guess I will cross that river when I get to the bridge."
Thankfully I never ever got lonely in my time in Abidjan - I managed to make lots of friends. I also enjoyed my time alone in the house - reading a lot, writing a bit, learning every coupe decale song under the sun, watching Nigerian movies in French.....It was amazing:-)
After seeing the apartment, Esther took me to Sococe, the shopping mall to stock my house. At the supermarket we met her friend who on discovering I had just moved into a new place offered to buy lunch to have some sort of housewarming. We went back to mine with them and enjoyed a hearty meal of chicken and veggies.
As soon as we were done with lunch, Esther's brother came for my first French lesson. Having not found an Alliance Francaise in Abidjan, I had decided to get a private tutor. Esther had told me her brother was really good in French and in teaching. I decided to take a chance on him and it was a great idea - he was a tough teacher and my French greatly improved in my 2 months in Abidjan. It also helped that he was Ivorian because the Ivorian French accent is different from a regular French accent. By working with him I was much better able to understand what was going on when I was in Abidjan than I would have been if I had a standard French teacher. He was such a nice guy. He told me that the amount I had offered to pay him was too much and said he would teach me for 40% of the price I had initially mentioned. I really appreciated his honesty. I had no idea how much to quote as it is very person and location specific. I had ~3 hours a day of French for 5 days a week at a great bargain.