My Trip to Africa

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My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Fri Jun 20, 2014 4:35 am

Okay, peoples [sic] had some questions about my trip to Africa, like why did I go (that answer can be found in other posts if you think about it) and what was I doing there.  So since there was some curiosity I thought I'd share my experiences.

I spent the spring living on the island of Rodrigues in East Africa.  It is french-speaking.  It is part of the country Mauritius, which was originally french but then taken over by the British.  Now it is independent and the top-ranked democracy in Africa.  Physically, it is spectacularly beautiful, with aqua-blue lagoons that stretch out to sea about 200meters.  

There are no private beaches, except for all of them, because when you are on the beach with the soft sand, there are just hardly any other people around.  i stayed in this amazing inn with an innkeeper who was a total revolutionary.  He was french and there was a whole lotta smoking and drinking going on.  The french are definitely more hedonistic.

The people, on the whole, were incredibly nice.  The staff at the B&B would give me a kiss on both cheeks in the morning.  The locals there were black, unlike the people on the mainland Maurice, who are more Indian looking.  The population on the island is only 50k.  I had no internet service and had to travel 30 minutes in the innkeeper's jeep to get to wifi connection in a cafe.

Basically, I would say that Rodrigues would be an awesome experience for anyone, but it helps if you speak French, because a lot of the locals don't speak much English.  They speak creole and even their french is called "Rodriguean French" which is sort of a variation of french that is a little hard to understand.

There were cows mooing right outside the hebergement (inn).  I still miss their serenades.  It was really wonderful.  There were goats and sheep all over, and dogs running free.  A lot of the dogs there were kind of different - unneutured or spayed.  I'd say they were kind of on the wild side, but then, so was Rodrigues.

What else did I learn?  French people think we're idiots.  You probably already realized that, but having listened to them, it is more strong than you can imagine.  They are certain that we are a bunch of imbeciles, and it can be hard to refute their arguments!
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by scottand on Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:03 am

I signed up to join this forum for one reason,after ignoring the hobby for over 20yrs I started to get interested in Baseball cards again.Im 49 Ive been collecting since I was about 11 yrs old and still have some of my childhood cards.Having said that I wont be drawn into a debate about who dislikes our great country and why. I will say (and this is in no way directed to anyone in particular)that if anyone doesnt like living here this is a big world and the choices are endless.Every country has had their issues, every country has a group of people or other countries who dislike them,every country has imbeciles. I have neverending respect for veterans,alive and deceased. I am not one but make it a habit thanking a vet for his or her service when im around one. I could find it easy to refute an argument over our country being called "imbeciles" or"idiots". Caring what another country thinks about us is like trying to get everyone you meet to like you. It cant be done. This will be my last post of non baseball card topics. I just needed to address what I read. No hard feelings.

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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by sabrjay on Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:47 am

Scott, I've traveled the world. Seen 41 different countries, thanks in part to being in the Navy. I can corroborate that the French do have a very serious dislike for Americans. On a par with a Tea Party member's dislike for liberals. My encounter with French have been unpleasant outside of the Riviera.

Having traveled the world I can honestly say that if I could get my wife to move to Switzerland, we would be gone in a heartbeat. The country I put my life on the line for no longer exists. I do what I can to try and change things but there are countries that already have in place the ideals and principles that m wife and I both agree with. Most are not yet found here in the US.

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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Sat Jun 21, 2014 3:53 am

If you speak French and take the time to learn their culture and customs, the French can really like you.  The people who were criticizing America in fact were very nice to me, they liked me a lot since I took the time to learn their language.  I made friends with a lot of french people while I was in Rodrigues.

The French do have a political right wing called the Front Nationale.  Like the Tea Party, the extreme right wing is growing in France.  But they are not so divorced from reality.  They don't deny climate change and so forth.  Even the french right-wingers think the Tea Party is a bunch of raving idiots.

Basically, I feel like I can criticize my country as much as I wish, and so can the French.  If someone is gonna tell me I gotta pack my bags and leave my country because they don't like what I have to say, that's not even what America was supposed to be about anyways.  Ever heard of the First Amendment?
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by sabrjay on Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:55 pm

Jamie, on my travels through France, even though my friend spoke what I thought was fluent French, we ran into people that snubbed us. Not everyone, but often enough to give us a bad impression of the French in general. I speak enough German to not be an ignorant American walking around looking for someone speaking English and even that wasn't enough to appease some people. We had one street vendor that wouldn't sell us food because we were American.

you are right though, people shouldn't be giving a "love it or leave it" ultimatum.

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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by pariah1107 on Sat Jun 21, 2014 3:03 pm

Sounds like a great trip Jamie. Social immersion for weeks/months is the way to go. Vacationers just tread water, some more frantically than others, from one tourist destination to the next. They are usually culturally ignorant, and oblivious to their surroundings as they try to myopically "take it all in" through the view-finder of a camera or worse yet on a phone. I doubt any one of them would even enjoy the peace and quiet you found.
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Sat Jun 21, 2014 3:16 pm

sabrjay wrote:Jamie, on my travels through France, even though my friend spoke what I thought was fluent French, we ran into people that snubbed us. Not everyone, but often enough to give us a bad impression of the French in general. I speak enough German to not be an ignorant American walking around looking for someone speaking English and even that wasn't enough to appease some people. We had one street vendor that wouldn't sell us food because we were American.

you are right though, people shouldn't be giving a "love it or leave it" ultimatum.

Yeah, I think that quite frankly things have improved since your travels.  The French have begun to realize that they need to be friendlier to tourists and, except for the bistros, where you can get some obnoxious waiters, people are generally nice.  

My french is not that good, but it helps that I have kinda long hair, dress a certain way, and generally understand how they interact with others.  There are definitely some people who will snub me.  Not to mention the anti-semitism.  Some people just completely avoided me once they realized/found out I was Jewish.  That is a part of European culture that is quite problematic.

Maybe in many areas of the US there is not that much anti-semitism, but it is alive and well in the rest of the world.  That's life, there are problems everywhere, no doubt about it.
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Sat Jun 21, 2014 3:20 pm

pariah1107 wrote:Sounds like a great trip Jamie. Social immersion for weeks/months is the way to go. Vacationers just tread water, some more frantically than others, from one tourist destination to the next. They are usually culturally ignorant, and oblivious to their surroundings as they try to myopically "take it all in" through the view-finder of a camera or worse yet on a phone. I doubt any one of them would even enjoy the peace and quiet you found.

Thanks Ty, I was very fortunate to be able to do it.  There was lots of peace and quiet, at least until problems arose that I have mentioned on another thread.  But it was a great experience.  Being back in Boston is kinda sad.  It's nice to be home, but I really miss Rodrigues.  Some of the things I thought I'd miss when I went away, I wound up not caring about.  Like Whole Foods.

In Rodrigues, all the meat is free-range organic because that's all they have.  Everything is bought fresh from the farmer's market or caught that day.  My innkeeper said it was as close as you are going to get to Cuba.  Old cars, old ways of doing things, etc.


Last edited by jbonie on Sat Jun 21, 2014 3:48 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by ullmandds on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:49 pm

welcome back Jamie...glad u had a nice trip...I am jealous...I'd love to spend a month or more...much more travelling abroad!

I had a few lukeawarm experiences in France when I first travelled abroad back in 95...but my attempts to speak French and to understand the culture created mostly friendly/cordial interactions...my worst experience was a man on a train(who was annoyed by my acquaintances and I's raucous behavior) who stood up gave a little diatribe in french...gave us the f*** you(2 armed not the finger) and stormed to another train cart. A woman told us he was ranting about the us not willing to do more business with the french so f*** us!

I just bought a ticket to portugal in the late summer...and colombia for New Years...but sadly these trips will be relatively short.

Over the years my passion for travel has superceded that for old cardboard...and maybe one of these years I will take a leave of absence and really travel the world the right way!!!!
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:20 pm

Yeah Pete, as I said, it was a great experience.  Yes, the french can be difficult - but I guess it's important to remember that there's plenty of Amercans who hate the French as well - remember Freedom Fries???

I definitely think that travel supersedes old cardboard.  In travel, you create your own memories - cardboard just rehashes other people's.  But I still love baseball cards. Smile

Since there has been some interest in this thread, I think I will share some more details of my trip.  Well, not only were there people and livestock on this island, there were also plenty of... insects!

I had spent a couple weeks in Maurice before heading to Rodrigues, and had some encounters with cockroaches in the building I was staying in the there... basically, you'd see the roach, the roach would see you, the roach would run for it's life, and you'd try to kill it.  That was how it worked.

Well, I get out to the hebergement in Rodrigues, and what do I find when I enter the room?  There is a cockroach sitting right on the desk table, hanging out on some wires, and I see the roach, and the roach sees me, but the roach doesn't move, it is just kinda hanging out, waving its antennae around.  Well, Rodrigues is so mellow that I think, maybe they don't kill the roaches here, so I decide, since I'm feeling relaxed, too, that I'll let the roach be, and maybe it'll just go away.

By the next day, I hadn't seen the roach, so I sort of figured it was gone, but that night, I was sleeping, only to be woken by something walking across my forehead in my sleep.  It only took a moment for me to realize it was THE COCKROACH!!!  AHHHHH!!!!!

Well, in a moment of panic, I brushed my hand across my forehead, the roach landed on the floor, I turned on the light and there was the roach, belly up, wringing for its life.  I decided to put it out of its misery with my shoe.  When I woke up the next morning, there were about twenty ants surrounding the roach, which was kind of a little biology lesson.
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by ullmandds on Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:20 am

good story...I've learned that lesson before. I'd imagine there were some gnarly insects there too!
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:37 am

There weren't too many gnarly insects... I saw some funky insects while I was in Brazil, the insects in Rodrigues were a little more mainstream.  There was a slow flying kind of fly that was very attracted to the light.  I'd have 20 or so of them in my room each night.  But they weren't very bothersome.  We'd eat outside and those flies would come around, they'd dive into your wine, wind up getting stuck on your plate, etc.  But it wasn't a major problem.

Now the mosquitoes... those were annoying.  Thankfully, there wasn't any malaria there, but still tons of mosquitos.  I hadn't any repellent and no one really used that.  There were nets on the windows, but they weren't very secure, so the "mostiques" would get in.  If it was windy then there'd be no mosquitoes, but the night after the wind died down, boy you'd have some hungry mosquitoes.

I would wake up in the night from them buzzing in my ear and go on a killing spree, but the problem is that the longer you are awake, the more you had the light on, and the more insects the heat from the light attracts.  So I learned to run the fan while killing the mosquitoes at night so the insects from the exterior would stay away.

No one in Rodrigues liked the mosquitoes, but in general, people were more comfortable with insects and didn't see much harm... those African bees, yikes, I'm glad I didn't get stung.  Some mornings the fishermen would come and the innkeeper would buy fish, which would get kept in a bowl in the open kitchen.  You'd see 50 or 100 flies sitting on or swarming the fish you were going to eat that night.  But after a while you realize they're pretty much harmless, just kind of different standards in Africa.
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by cccc on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:18 pm

J--i was with you until you said you thought you were gonna miss whole foods...otherwise an excellent adventure indeed.
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:33 am

cccc wrote:J--i was with you until you said you thought you were gonna miss whole foods...otherwise an excellent adventure indeed.  

Well, my trip was full of realizations.   Very Happy 

Glad to have you back, Quan.

You guys will have to buy my book once it's out if you want to read more stories of my trip... they only get wilder. bananarama
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by sabrjay on Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:23 am

If it didn't involve a full body cavity search, then it can't beat my trip into China  affraid 

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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by ZWS on Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:38 pm

I spent quite a bit of time in Africa (I'm a former Navy guy also). We were on the west coast though and it wasn't very nice. I went to Senegal, Ivory Coast, Sao Tome and Principe, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Angola... I think that's all of them. Most of the places we went to were pretty depressing. There were no public services like garbage collection or sewage. People just walked out of their cinder block shanties and dumped their trash on the ground. I saw adults and children alike using the bathroom right in the middle of the street. From some of the discussions I had with locals, the common theme seemed to be that there were a few wealthy people at the top (government officials) that controlled EVERYTHING while living somewhere in Europe. For the most part the people were very nice to us and optimistic about the future. They mainly talked about better lives for their children... never really mentioning themselves. It was a great experience for me but I wouldn't be thrilled about returning.

As for the French... meh. I lived in Italy for 2 years if you want to talk about people being assholes. The Germans, Poles, and Hungarians were pretty awesome though.

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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:47 pm

Hey man, welcome to the board. Thank you for sharing your experiences in West Africa. I have never been there... not ready for that. Maybe some day I will be? I don't know. I have seen photos of what you describe - it is very sad. Overall, I think the situation is improving, and Africa is ripe with potential.

I agree with you that it was a great experience but I don't know about returning.

Thanks for posting.
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by ullmandds on Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:56 pm

I'll wait for the movie!
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by ZWS on Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:32 pm

jbonie wrote:Hey man, welcome to the board.  Thank you for sharing your experiences in West Africa.  I have never been there... not ready for that.  Maybe some day I will be?  I don't know.  I have seen photos of what you describe - it is very sad.  Overall, I think the situation is improving, and Africa is ripe with potential.

I agree with you that it was a great experience but I don't know about returning.

Thanks for posting.

Thanks for the welcome!

I have a few photos on my computer from my travels I'll post up. I have many, many more... but you can get an idea from these few.

By "potential" you mean oil right?








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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by ZWS on Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:36 pm

Not to be completely one-sided, there were some areas with beautiful scenery (once you got away from the more populated areas).








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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:54 pm

Thanks for sharing those photos!  The jungle looks cool - were there exotic animals?  By the potential of Africa, I mainly meant agriculture, although there are some oil reserves.  Africa also has the potential to provide inexpensive labor as salaries in countries like China continue to increase.  There is definitely opportunity there.

I took this photo of the rainbow (arc en ciel) at 6am and showed it later to someone who lived there.  They were like, "Oh, yeah, whatever, that happens all the time."  And it was a full rainbow, too.





Me chilling at the hebergement.  A calf came up to me and he had actually stuck his nose in at my stomach briefly, then left to graze a few meters away.





The lagoon extends out about 200 meters and that's why you see it as that aqua blue color.  There are huge waves crashing far away from shore.

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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by ZWS on Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:37 pm

Cool pictures... looks peaceful.

The only animal I remember seeing was a monkey on a leash that chained to a billboard.

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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:50 pm

ZWS wrote:Cool pictures... looks peaceful.

The only animal I remember seeing was a monkey on a leash that chained to a billboard.

Yeah, from your photos and description, it sounds like your trip was a little rough.  Sorry about that!  I'm sure it is different when you are in the Navy and stationed in certain places.  I did have my own challenges in Rodrigues, but they were ameliorated to a certain extent by the beautiful environment.
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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by glenv on Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:16 pm

Very cool trip!  But where are the pictures of the hoards of African Tobacco Ruth cards you came back with???   Very Happy 


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Re: My Trip to Africa

Post by jbonie on Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:38 pm

glenv wrote:Very cool trip!  But where are the pictures of the hoards of African Tobacco Ruth cards you came back with???   Very Happy 


That's an Apartheid card, Glen. mallet
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