Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Last week I started working as an English teacher at a Gabonese (French?) elementary school. I teach ages 5 - 11 and, well, it's not easy but the kids (contrary to what I expected) are mostly great. I don't want to write about the school today, though; this blog is not about teaching in the end. The beginning of term brought about more concerns than just ESL methodology. I had to start moving around the city on my own - Jandro did not want to leave his job and become my full-time driver (the post is still free, interested?).

So, taxis. And, above all, speaking. French. Clearly. It is stressful, this taxi business. I described them in detail in April and, sadly, nothing's changed since then. The first time is always the most difficult but then, remember?, my first taxi was in April. Thus, this experience safely behind me, with new energy I started talking to the taxi drivers. With most of them it's easy: you say how much, you say where, they nod or drive away. Done. Of course, you have to get over the initial shock - the car, falling apart, is usually driven by some kind of NY gangsta imitation. But the rule is still Nike: Just Do It!

Consequently, many people have the pleasure of seeing my struggle with French. I have had quite a few successful conversations in that language, though: cleaning lady at the school (will switch off the air-conditioning), cheese lady at the supermaket (has three children, sister will get married soon), Senegalese taxi-driver (doesn't like Libreville but the job is good)... All of my interlocutors asked me immediately: "Am
éricaine?" There must be something inevitably American about my accent and looks, I guess. I do always say I'm Polish and to that the reactions are many and diverse:
- Ahh, Poland! The Pope!
- Ahh, Poland! There was this football-player in 1970s., what's his name?
- Ahh, Poland! Close to Russia?
- Ahh, Poland! You speak English there?
- Ahh, Poland! Are you finally independent?

I wonder what people from Warsaw would say to a Gabonese person...? Ahh, Gabon! Where the hell is that?!


  1. Ahh, Poland! Beatiful women! :-)

  2. Or, as Demmy says, beautiful women and ugly men ;-).

    I am highly impressed with your French speaking skills! I guess I would not be able to say that much anymore :-D.