Sometimes I don’t understand how things work here. We were invited to a restaurant (‘The Albatros’) by the local delegation in honor of the Director-General of the Ministry of Health who came all the way from Abidjan to hear the teams’ progress so far. His presence is very motivating to the participating teams because they have little contact with people that high up.

One of our facilitators, who is also a director of one of the health districts, showed up at the restaurant, when we were all seated, with lots baskets, pots and pans. They were unwrapped and unpacked on a table and revealed a copious meal with many different dishes and side dishes. How she managed to be with us all day and cook for some 25 people is a mystery – and not just a simple meal: we had rabbit, chicken cooked in various ways, sauces, tomato and onion salads and more.

What is also a mystery is why a restaurant would agree to host a party with all the cooking brought in from outside. Maybe they made all their money on the wine.

We were eating under the watchful eyes of Arnold Schwarzenegger or someone of his ilk on a giant plasma screen. He was doing dangerous things with cars, women and casinos. I have a hard time in restaurants with TV screens and try to seat myself so I can’t see them. But I was seated next to the D-G, in full view of the action movie. No one paid any attention to the flashing and exploding going on on the screen, interspersed with women who were in various states of undress. I had to muster all the discipline I have and keep my gaze focused on other things.

Once people started eating all conversation stopped and everyone concentrated on the food, which was accompanied by water and wine, countless bottles of each. The food was very spicy. I was glad I no longer had a sore throat or coughing fits.

When our plates were empty the Regional Director who is hosting us and the DG said their words of thanks and we were on our way home, back to our hard beds and my thimble of NyQuill.

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