Lost in Translation

I am sure I could have come up with something more clever for the title, something not already starring Bill Murray in a foreign country, but this is where I landed. So far, most of my experiences revolve around the use of very poorly spoken French, so it only seemed fitting....hopefully, I can paint the pictures more accurately in English. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Excuse me, monsieur, but is that your mouse?

Since I have not provided pictures yet despite a lot of requests, I will try to give you a snapshot or two in words.

Let me start by saying that everything is relative. As a colleague of Chris’s said upon returning from Franceville (to the East), “All it takes is a little hitchhiking in Franceville to realize that this is truly a 5-Star hotel.”

It’s only fitting that I begin with the pool, as that is where the girls want to spend every waking moment. The pool is fairly big with a connected kiddie pool that leads into the shallow end of the main pool. (The shallow end is right at Nora’s shoulders, so she had officially graduated from kiddie pool status and is now under the impression that she is 16.) It sits within a huge patio area, complete with a bar, an outdoor dining area and plenty of deck chairs and umbrellas – and the best part: the entire thing overlooks the ocean. Palm trees, waves, tropical breezes, this place has it all.

Likewise, there are pretty people everywhere. The Gabonese nationals are simply stunning – men and women alike. Then there are the French military men on holiday, the South African airline crew on layover and the super-skinny, chain-smoking French expat wives all lying in the sun.

I could go on...but unfortunately, that’s not where this story is headed.

As with everything, it all comes down to second glances. With a closer look, you’ll see that the tiles around the pool are a bit chipped. The umbrellas have some rust. The towels are slightly worn and the beach is full of debris, including tires and whatever else washes ashore.

The same rule applies to the people. Along with all of the pretty people, I’ve seen some interesting characters. There have been several obviously older business men with very young, very thin, very beautiful African women…it just leads me to wonder. And there are lots of speedos…that’s all that needs to be said about that. Likewise, I have yet to see a woman in a one-piece bathing suit and there are plenty who should consider it.

But who cares. I find it all to be breathtaking. Second glances aren’t so important. In fact, at times, they can be downright damaging. Let me explain…

The other day, I am lying by the pool and in my direct line of sight was a French couple on holiday. They seemed like a lovely couple as they sat sideways on their deck chairs playing backgammon. So I innocently look over, and there, staring me in the face are…balls. The guy is sitting in his short little bathing suit, legs all splayed out and the mouse had definitely escaped the house. Unfortunately, they're directly in front of me, so every time I open my eyes...more balls. It was like a trainwreck. And let me say, it was the longest game of backgammon ever played...ever…at any point in history.

However, the silver lining to this experience is that when the leathery old topless lady made an appearance later, I was actually relieved by the diversion.

And so there you have it…a snapshot, as it were, of the pool. I’ll try to get some actual photos up soon…and don’t worry, they’ll be censored for content.


  1. This is kind of random... but I'm Shannon Gingras' sister-in-law and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Gabon. I have a friend that is still there (married a local woman) that I would love to connect you with (he and his family live in Libreville too, they have 3 boys) and answer any questions you may have and/or just cheer you along. I was there the late 90's in a village just north of N'toum on the road to Coco Beach so I'm sure things have changes... but probably not that much. kfranklin.temple@gmail.com

  2. You have been me in stitches, as ALWAYS! Dan wants to know exactly what has me snorting at the computer now! I am so happy that you are blogging. We really need the whole story here. We have been out of the loop... What's the job in Gabon? How long will you be there? May we come and visit? How do we send you a Christmas card? I guess that would best be done via e.mail. Can't wait to hear more! Love you guys!

  3. Anna,
    You were born to blog. If I can't have you in my living room on my computer will have to do. I was hoping that having Elizabeth and Tim Moore living in our house would get us a visit with you and then you go and skip the county - excellent avoidance tactics! This is just so exciting. Kera and I are your biggest fans. Can't wait for the next installment!
    Hugs to all ya'll.

  4. i just fell out of my chair.

  5. "shake 'em to the left, shake 'em to the right, shake your bally balls with all your might...they're balls!"