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How to finish the school year and pack up for summer: Abidjan edition 2022

June is always a funny month for me. It’s the month of over-thinking, planning and figuring out what needs to be done before bugging out for the summer. What do the kids need for la rentrée in September? Textbooks and uniforms? Are all holiday logistics finalised? (Hooray, no PCR tests to worry about, but that also means more socialising and actually seeing people?!) What’s on my Amazon order list? What about presents for the in-laws? The dog? The house? My planner is filled with slips of paper – all the things that need getting done… Gah!

What’s on my to-do list wrapping up our first year in Abidjan.

My kids are flying ahead of us at the end of June, so my first thoughts are about their luggage and clothing situation for a 4-season summer in the south west of France. I have already checked what clothes fit them (and put aside what doesn’t to sell or give away when I am back.) I have enough summer gear, tracksuits and jeans. Normally I get last minute things at Kiabi, but still looking for one or two long sleeve t-shirts, as Kiabi have just sold out. Taking advantage of a French delivery address, I did a Hema order of little goodies to keep them busy - stickers, coloured paper, washi tape… inexpensive bits and bobs useful during down time. I also always order socks and underwear from Monoprix. I am just waiting for the sales to start the 22 June.

School books: I belong to a WhatsApp group as a parent at the French school and have found all the textbooks I need for the new school year. For other school books and supplies that can’t be bought second hand, I have placed an order at Librairie de France or Librairie le Scribe in 2 Plateaux. These orders will be ready end of August for pick up. Meanwhile, I have started buying sport t-shirts and uniforms at a little shop in Marcory, Dayana Top Couture. I prefer doing this now so that I don’t have to worry too much end of August when we are back.

Dog and House

Always the trickiest on the list. Initially we thought about doing a doggy holiday with another dog, so that the two (or more dogs) could keep each other company whilst we are away, but couldn’t find a suitable family to do this with. Then we looked at kennels. We found a lovely kennel Les Loups de Bassam, clean and nice… but looks too orphanage-y. So that got a no from us. What we will end up doing this year, I think, is between our housekeeper and nanny, the ladies will alternate coming to the house to feed our furry child and water my plants. Despite being in a secure cité, with an alarm, the constant activity means the house won’t stand empty (which is always a good thing), and the picinist will be able to come as he usually does, so no green pool.

Food and grocery logistics

We always empty our freezer before going. Like this, if there is an electricity outage, rotting meat and maggots won’t be a hassle to deal with. 2 weeks before flying I start to use up all the pasta and dry ingredients so that we eat everything before their expiry dates. We also leave our housekeeper with some money to buy basic groceries for breakfast and lunch on our return. Flights back to Abidjan are often at inconvenient times, especially travelling with children, so we like to organise ahead.

Semi normal situation after 2 years??

This is our first (dare I say, normal?) summer in 2 years. Feeling very glib that the stress of PCR tests is now a thing of the past; but seeing more people and buying presents for those said people is an item to tick off my to-do list.

Gifts for kids of all ages, we order ahead on Amazon, and make the most of the sale promotions from 22 June. We save a lot of time this way. As for little gifts that can be bought locally, you really have to see what you like and what you have space for. We are selling cute wrap skirts in our gift shop at the moment, check them out here. Tote bags and soaps at la Fabrique (actually anything from la Fabrique) is a great place to start, along with Cava for locally made goodies. If you are looking for baskets, WhatsApp Romeo on +225 0789052579 and view all his merchandise from your phone. Baskets are around 15 000 - 25 000 CFA, and you must be ready to negotiate. I also like Ama Creations or Panga Mania for wax inspired goodies. This year I bought my mom-in-law cute bogolan cushions from la GaZelles, and I got a framed map of Abidjan for myself from Villa 76.

What am I bringing back from France this year?

On my list so far:

· Biscuit Tupperware from the Netherlands to keep crackerbreads crisp!

· Retinol cream (still deciding which one…)

· Golf club bag for the kids

· Onyx straws

· Soccer boots, goggles, sunscreen, essential oils

· Maybe a nice new handbag and leather sandals for me 😊

· Scripts and medication for the kids

BTW: you need to know about the nail polish at Yves Rocher for 3000 CFA. The nail polish doesn’t chip and is very long wearing… it gets special mention as happiness really can cost 3000 CFA!

But if you are looking for a nice mani-pedi before going, the ladies at Clochette have you covered in Zone 4.

There we are girls. Wishing everyone safe and happy travels. May THIS be the holiday that is actually a holiday. Love and hugs to all xxx

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