Life in Africa

               What is it like to live there?


  • Cooking continues even
    with the electricity out!


When the French originally settled Côte d’Ivoire, they built villa-style houses in Bingerville, the city where we live. These are cement-block houses which have water, electricity, appliances, and fairly reliable internet as long as it isn’t raining too hard during rainy season! For security, our houses are surrounded by 10 to 15-foot high cement walls. We have dobermans and german shepherds which we affectionately call our “lions.”


When you come into the relm of shopping in West Africa, you’ve entered another world. Third World trade is very different from First World commerce. Although vendors have an idea of pricing, those prices are not fixed. The exchange of goods is dependent on a system of bartering. The Bingerville market is open-air, and often you will see loose chickens scurrying in between booths. We typically like to send nationals to the market for us as prices tend to increase for Westerners. Many goods are available at the market, including mangoes, papayas, pineapples, bananas, apples, oranges, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers, fish, snails, pots & pans, clothing, shoes, and cleaning products.

More variety is available in larger grocery stores in Abidjan, the economic capital. (Abidjan is about a 30-minute drive from Bingerville.) Here, we find a larger assortment of canned goods, pasta, cheeses, coffee, deli meats, beef, and chicken. Although we do miss American mixes (especially brownie mixes!), we are thankful to be able to purchase what we need to cook basic American dishes. We also try to keep a good assortment of spices from the states on hand. 

Here is an idea of what we pay in US dollars for goods in Côte d'Ivoire.

Item Ivory Coast US (Wal-Mart)
Gasoline $5.20/gallon $3.30/gallon
Coke $2.00 2-liter $1.38 2-liter
Eggs $2.40 dozen $0.98 dozen
Butter $2.60 cup $2.18 cup
Banana $0.10 each $0.45 each
Pineapple $0.40 each $2.98 each
Flour $0.59/lb $0.47/lb
Sugar $0.77/lb $0.58/lb
Deli Sliced Ham $4.09/lb $2.71/lb
Swiss Cheese $5.45/lb $4.48/lb
Ground Beef $2.27/lb $2.90/lb


Recipe - Mafé (West African Peanut Butter Stew)

If you’d like to try an Ivorian dish, here is a popular favorite. Mafé is a dish that we eat regularly in Côte d'Ivoire.


  • 2 green peppers
  • 4 onions
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • ¾ c. peanut butter
  • 3 c. beef broth
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg, optional
  • 4 c. cooked beef or chicken, cubed
  • 6 c. cooked rice

Cut the green peppers and onions into strips. Cook the peppers and onions in oil, then drain off the fat. Mix the tomato paste and peanut butter. Add beef broth, tomato paste mixture, and all of the seasonings. Add all at once to the peppers and onions. Stir in cooked meat. Cook over low heat (or in a crock pot) for a couple of hours to enhance the flavor. Serve with rice.


This information is for those who have specifically asked how to mail items to us. Generally, we’ve found that large envelope mailers go easily through customs. There is a significant reduction in price if packages weigh less than 4 lbs. At the post office counter, you will receive a customs form to fill out and attach to the package. Letters do not need a customs form.