Monday, February 14, 2011


We have already agreed that my adventures in Belgium cannot be described here, even less under a heading which says Paradise News. I thus invite you to join me on

where I will tell you all about my new life. I hope we will all enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I wish I could keep looking back. I still enjoy imagining that I come back to our safe old African life, in a comfy flat, knowing what I'm going to do not only tomorrow, but also next week, next month. But no, I can't live in the past, and so, as the last proof of my moving on, I took my Gabonese residence permit out of my wallet. I am ready for my new life.

Or nearly ready. First, one more part of the skin shedding process. Saying goodbye to you and my blog, that is. As much as I don't want to do this, it is clear to me that I cannot write about Brussels here. It just wouldn't be right. Right?

The chapter of my life called La Nouvelle Vie begins on Monday, 14th February. Please do not miss the daunting romanticism of the date: after a month of separation, Kasia and Jandro will skip towards each other at the Charleroi airport, only to settle down and create a home together, starting on no other than Valentine's Day. Is this charming or what?

And so, before La Nouvelle Vie takes place, I must say goodbye. I had a great time writing this blog and it certainly let me discover that I enjoy telling stories. Thank you for letting me share them with you.

Nothing else is left to say. Only, maybe... Goodnight and good luck!

And after the official part do allow me to make two announcements (no, I'm not getting married and no, I'm not pregnant, for now it's just me, Jandro and Brussels, just as in the picture!):

1) Check this blog for still one more update. I will give you the link to the new Brussels blog, where you will be able to follow my exciting Belgian adventures. I'm not giving up on blogging, no sir. It's too much fun!

2) I have never asked you to leave comments here; however, this is my last opportunity to get to know my regular readers. If you are one of those, please leave a comment now. Even if it's your first one. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The time for summing up has definitely come. The good, the bad and the in-between. The wrapping up of my African life. I feel a need for closure. I feel that, in order to start something new, I must inevitably say goodbye to the thing that ends. Up till now, I've been living in a post-Gabon bubble. Not so much looking ahead of me, I kept glancing back, reliving the last days in Africa, almost feeling the sunrays on my neck. I continued writing this blog. I struggled to keep every single memory. But these past few days something changed. I feel I'm ready to look ahead now, confident I cannot lose what has become an integral part of me. Things are to be gained, not lost. And so, with my suntan fading a little bit more every single day, I try to move on. Yes, the time for summing up has definitely come. Here we go then - the lists.

ONE: Among other things, I have learned...
  • to be around African people and feel comfortable
  • to be around kids and enjoy myself more than I had ever thought possible
  • to accept even though I can't understand
  • French
  • what racism is and why you shouldn't stare
  • to make a pizza
  • to teach kids
  • to wait, to look for alternative solutions, to anticipate all kinds of problems
TWO: I'm going to miss... or rather: I'm already missing...
  • the interminable, stunning, deserted beaches of Gabon, its nature, its sun
  • the Arc En Ciel kids, so much
  • our friends
  • our flat and the view from the terrace
  • not having to worry about what to wear
  • having clothes made to measure with the African pagne
  • eating out at the cheap maquis... oh, the poisson grillé!
  • travelling into the brousse
  • writing this blog
THREE: The things I'm not going to miss...
  • the constant sweating
  • being called la white in the street
  • malaria (and other diseases) threat
  • not ever being able to make plans until the very last minute
  • big huge ugly cockroaches
  • public administration
  • traffic in Libreville
These lists could probably go on and on. The point is, I have changed. I understand more and adapt better. Gabon is under my skin, just like Poland, just like Galicia. It has shaped me to be a better person.

My friends have shown me that it's possible to live on the move and that you can be happy everywhere, as long as the ones you love are with you. Travelling opened me to the ultimate way of experiencing nature. The African people, and especially the kids, taught me how happy you can be with very little. My job made me work on my creativity and improvising skills. Learning French made new things possible.

I managed to do something which I considered beyond my possibilities. Not giving up on Gabon when things got difficult was the best decision I could've made. And I got something priceless in return: a new facet of me, of whose existence I had no idea. The African me, the black Kasia.

This amazing portrait is the work of Fran - again, thanks so much!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I know that I'm not in Gabon anymore and that I should be saying goodbye, if not to blogging, to this particular blog. I have already planned my last entry, and I promise you it will be as touching and inspiring as only my writing can be. Before it sees the light, however, I will still tell you a couple of stories.

The first one concerns our good old friend, the temple of African administrative hell, - have you guessed already? - yes, CEDOC! Do not get too excited, though. I have not (yet) received a call from Gabon telling me to give back the original of my carte de séjour, which I managed to smuggle out of the country. But I did lose an administrative battle today and, believe it or not, it made me remember CEDOC warmly. It turns out Polish bureaucratic world might even be worse than the Gabonese one. Judge for yourself.

Crucial information: in February Kasia and Jandro will be conquerring Brussels.

And now the story. It all started with an epiphanic moment of clarity:
I won't have insurance in Belgium!", I exclaimed one beautiful morning.
"Do not be distressed, my daughter", replied my Father, "for you are in Europe, where life is easier and public offices less corrupt."
"You speak the truth", I said. "Let us google the Social Security webpage".

We thus googled. After a quick visit to the office in question (and I will not call it the SS Office due to my Polish prudence), I found out that all I had to do was register at the Employment Office (fill in registration form, show ID, university diploma, all contracts, and possibly several baby pictures), get the U2 form from them (and no, ladies who work at the Employment Office do not appreciate Bono jokes so you can stick them up the body part often displayed in the baby pictures), take the U2 form to the Social Security, fill in another form and show ID. You will get your insurance card in a day!

It all sounded extremely simple and I decided to follow the advice of the chirpy Social Security lady. First obstacle: the Office is about 700 kilometres away from my parents' place. Undeterred, I boarded a bus, the underground and another bus - the trip rounding up to an even hour and a half - only to find out that the number of people queuing was a charming 136. The security guard told me I had no chance of getting in that day. No worries, I'll come back tomorrow, I thanked him and trotted away to catch a bus, the underground and another bus home.

I'm tough. I'd defeated CEDOC. I'd defeated Trésor. I was ready to stand up against The Queue. I came back the next day, much earlier, at 8:30 am. There were 55 people ahead of me. I sat down and started reading. Do I have to tell you how depressing the Employment Office in Warsaw is? Sad, grey people, sit in apathy; they don't even bring anything to help them pass the hours they must spend there: no books, no mp3 players, only staring into space. The air is charged with frustration and, in some cases, with the stench of alcohol or unshowered male bodies. I felt blue ten minutes into the experience. Three and a half hours later, when my turn finally came, I was desperate to get out.

952! My number is finally called! I pick up my bag, I put a CEDOC/Trésor smile on my face and I enter the magical Room 9. I quickly localize the counter which called me and direct my CEDOC/Trésor smile accordingly. At this very moment Man sits on my chair, opposite my civil servant, who rudely informs me that Man was there before and was asked to come back. She thus blocks me, as no other lady will attend to my registration needs, because my number was already called. I have no choice but to wait for the monstrous Man to finish his buisness. He finishes. Nothing can stop me now! Courage!

Well? What happens next? It's Europe, n'est-ce pas?

Yes, it's Europe. Which, as of today, means absolutely nothing to me. You see, my conversation with the civil servant lady was full of contradictory statements, which left absolutely nothing clear, apart from the fact that I was not in the correct office altogether, as I was locally assigned to a different one.

Conclusions: I don't know if I should register. I don't know if I can get insurance free of charge. I don't know where I can get the U2 form. I don't know how to get to the correct Employment Office. More conclusions: administration works badly everywhere in the world. Only in some countries it's corrupt and/or messy enough for you to stand a chance.

And, while Jandro is trying to convince Galician authorities that he has indeed left Gabon and is now in Spain, there is only one thing I can say: I miss CEDOC.

The image comes from here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Thursday, 13 January 2011, was the worst day of my life. At least that's what I thought at the time. Reasons... Moving? Leaving Gabon? Leaving the kids? Separating from Jandro for some time? No job? No flat? Wow, I could really get depressed, right? But no, it was not any of the above that made me sit down in the middle of my living room and cry like a baby. The monster that made me do it was the scariest one of all - and its name is Packing.

Let's face it, I had never been fond of packing. But this time was different. This time, the plan was daunting: to gather all of our earthly possessions and fit them into six suitcases, twenty-three kilogrammes (and God forbid half a kilo more!) each. We were to pack up our whole huge flat, give or throw away whatever we weren't taking with us, so that by the end of the day the big white flat were clean and tidy and big and white.


About three hours into packing, my crisis began. First, I felt anxious. I didn't know where to start from and I could not evisage the end of the whole process. It seemed to me that we would never leave Gabon, because we would simply not manage to pack.

Consequently, I decided it was time for some damage control. I thus sat down on the big white floor of the big white living room and gave way to the packer's rage. This having no effect on Jandro or the suitcase, which stubbornly refused to pack on its own, I moved on to the second stage: despair. A lot of crying followed, during which I requested a container (like all normal people... since when do I believe that all normal people are in a possession of a container anyway?). Finally, I stated firmly that I wasn't leaving. The statement was closely followed by stage three - resignation, or thoughless staring into the big white wall.

And then Jandro, the most peaceful, the most rational packer in the world (have you any idea how annoying this felt back then?), ignoring my blaming him for the lack of container that all normal people have, picked me up from the floor and took me out to buy an additional suitcase.

Slowly, the packing continued. By 5:30 pm we were nearly done and the world did not end. Six bags were filled with exactly 23 kilos of stuff each. The flat was as big and white as ever. That was it. We moved out.

And if I don't say it enough, here comes: my boyfriend rules! Totally.