[ Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire ]
I have been in Abidjan for an inordinate amount of time, but at long last—and after one false start—my departure is at hand. By way of an update, let’s start with the most recent setback. This time, thankfully, it wasn’t health-related.
Nearly three weeks ago, on Thursday, February 21st, I was prepared to leave town. Like, as in, really really REALLY ready to go. My bicycle and all my gear were repaired, packed, gleaming, and had been carted down the requisite three flights of stairs and reassembled. I was set—albeit with a good amount of trepidation—to begin once again my untethered life on the road. To commemorate my departure I assembled the men who had been sharing my apartment for the previous two weeks, hoping to snap some going-away photos. While wandering amongst them, trying to adjust my camera appropriately, I instead watch as the display decays from its posterized condition (a pre-existing issue), to flickering and distorted like an old analog television, to pure, implacable, harsh, unforgiving white.
My camera was dead. The window I use to share Africa with friends and family and followers was closed, painted over, blocked with tinfoil, useless.
Clearly, leaving town like this was simply not an option. The bike and bags were taken back upstairs. Though part of me breathed a sigh of relief at the reprieve, most of me panicked: where can I get this repaired? Can I find the part, get it shipped here? How can I afford to pay for any of this, even if I can?
The rest of that day I sat before my computer: chatting with Sony’s online support, messaging Patreon supporters who had either photography gear knowledge or who might be willing to help me replace the camera if repair proved impossible. Sony claimed there were two authorized repair shops in Abidjan, and I learned quickly what incredible supporters I have on Patreon.
The next morning I grabbed an early taxi, heading cross-town to Abidjan’s glitzy, Westernized mall—CapSud Centre Commercial. The Sony information was no longer valid, but in my search I met the proprietor of a small photography studio tucked away in the mall. The shop is Magic Studio Photographie, its proprietor Abbas Makke—a Lebanese expat, living and working in Abidjan for nearly three decades. He was incredible: he knew exactly what was possible, what was not, and helped me sort it all out in record time, at considerable inconvenience to himself. (NB: the people you meet while traveling really are amazing. Believe it.)
By the time the dust settled, I had a new (to me) Sony a6300 in my eager little hands. A camera shipped from a small shop in Florida and paid for by one of my Patreon supporters, arriving at the home of a second patron while a third picked up the delivery costs from Texas to Abidjan. In case it’s not obvious, my supporters are freakin’ amazing, and I am incredibly grateful and blessed to know them.
On this end—after a typical snag at the local customs office—my new friend Abbas spent about three hours with me at the airport (he also drove me there) to get the package cleared without paying additional duties. (A shout out also to the head of the customs office at DHL. I don’t know here name, but she was funny, kind, incredibly efficient, and could easily have forced me to pay another $150US duty. Instead, she countermanded all of her underlings who attempted to do so, forcing them instead to rewrite reports and amend documents in my favor. That she did this in designer jeans, DG shades, and 4” heels while uniformed, self-serious subordinates saluted her just made it that much better.)
All of that being a too-long story merely to say:
- My camera broke
- Attempts to repair it failed
- Amazing people on both sides of the globe helped me get a new one and get it here
- I’m grateful to all these people, and blessed to know them
- Now the road beckons, and some new photos are on their way, starting with this post.