life in africa (part 3).

My friend Melissa asked a great question about the food that I eat here in Africa. And I've also gotten a lot of experience with getting around the city over the last couple weeks, so I thought I'd share about both of those.

(Want to know more about day-to-day life here in Gabon? Read part 1 and part 2.)


I live with Americans, so most of the time we eat a lot of the same food I would eat in the US. It's difficult to find prepared foods (though we do have some things from the last container order) but most everything else is available, at least for a price. The only things I really miss are berries (of any kind, but especially strawberries) and tortillas.

When I'm out during the day, I'll either eat something simple like fruit (bought from one of the roadside stands) or bean sandwiches (red beans, sauce, onions, and sometimes tomatoes or avocado on french bread). When we get together with our friends from OSPAC (the medical clinic), they make dinner - rice with a tomato sauce, chicken, and this fantastic peanut sauce are my favorites. They also usually served boiled plantains (which aren't bad) and manioc (a root vegetable, kind of like a potato).

Sometimes we get street food - chicken pieces, patates (fried sweet potatoes), and banans (fried bananas or plantains), all of which are so good!


For the first month that I was here, we hired a driver to pick me up each morning and take me to Hope House, and then to pick me up at Hope House and bring me home. Unfortunately, though, he wanted too much money, so for the last several weeks I've been using taxis and taxi buses to get where I need to go (now that I know my way around at least a little, and I can speak and understand enough French to get by...most of the time).

My roommate Hannah told me that every time she rides in a taxi bus, she thinks of Shakira's song Hips Don't Lie - and it's very accurate! Taxi buses are bigger than a minivan, but smaller than a typical 15-passenger van. Nineteen people fit in each one - the driver and two passengers in the front, and four people across the four rows in the back (including the person responsible for opening the sliding door). Each morning that I go to Hope House, I walk down the street to the taxi bus stop and take a bus to Rio, then cross the street (not easy!) and look for a bus going to PK12 (after which I can walk to Hope House). It's not always easy - sometimes there are more people than taxis, so it's a bit of a shoving match to get a place on one. Plus you have to be careful of pickpockets, especially in busy places like Rio.

Sometimes, when I need to take a few kids to a medical clinic, we'll take a small taxi. They're a little trickier, because you need to negotiate with the driver on how far he'll go and how much you'll pay. It's also not really safe for me to take one by myself, so I usually only do when I'm with one of my translators.

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