Thursday, November 5, 2009


The city of Franceville turned out to be rather pleasant. It is spread on green hills, which is enough to make the place quite pretty. It has little to do with Libreville’s European air and white people are practically invisible (Roger told us that they didn’t mix). Here are a few things we thought were worth noting about the city.

Family ties

Franceville is the capital of the Haut-Ogooué province, and in its vicinity lies Bongoville, president Bongo’s native town. No wonder the president (both old and new) took a special liking to the area. Liking, it must be said, which is in every way mutual. The Bongo presidents, father and son, are omnipresent.

While the previous president took care of the city and roads (we were shocked as the roads were better than in Poland), the people did not hesitate to return the favour. This was the province which supported Ali Bongo in nearly 100%. Huge billboards still say Thank you Papa Omar and lament his death. Images of the late president are everywhere: hotels, restaurants, shops, T-shirts… Not to mention the huge statue we've seen somewhere in the city. It seems he was very much loved. Ali Bongo is slowly winning himself a similar place in peoples’ hearts. The village of Kessala was fully equipped in Ali’9 gadgets and displayed them quite proudly. The receptionist at our hotel had Ali on the screen of her mobile. Stickers and pictures are everywhere. Franceville is there for the Bongo family, no doubt about that.

Libanese steak

We found the city a bit more African than Libreville. The shops were completely different, the market beautiful and the restaurants shabby, cheap and good. Our last day we went to a place with a very wide choice of dishes and settled for chicken with fried banana (me) and steak with rice (Jandro). Jandro inquired about the type of meat and the young waiter stared at us blankly. What kind of meat is it?, Jandro repeated patiently and the boy finally answered: Libanese steak, sir. My persistent boyfriend did not, however, give up: Yes, but what kind of meat? Pork? Beef? The boy looked cornered: I do not know, sir. Libanese steak. I smiled because in my mind, having read too much Roald Dahl, I could already picture the waiter capturing a Libanese in order to make him into a steak. No worries, though. It was beef.

Down to the river
There was a river behi
nd our hotel and on our last afternoon, given that we had nothing better to do, we sat on its green bank, reading. There were some benches (all of them occupied) and quite a lot of people around. At first they gave us strange looks but after a little while they just let us be. We observed them a little bit (being careful not to stare) and saw how many different activities can be carried out by the river. Some little boys were playing football (later, when it started to rain, they kept playing, covered in mud from head to toe). A man and a woman were taking a bath, their dark skin shiny from the soap. A girl was washing the dishes, dressed in tight shorts and a bikini top, flirting with a bunch of boys who were watching her. A guy was playing with his puppy (very uncommon sight in Africa, few people keep dogs). And then the rain came. The heavy, tropical rain. We took shelter in a little cafe on the river bank and were served by a waitress with real man-like chest hair. The children kept playing football. The girl kept washing the dishes. They all seemed rather happy.

1 comment:

  1. Are you sure the "Libanese steak" was beef? It had a smooth taste to tobacco and luxury car...