Home > Everyday Life > I Showed my Patriotism in . . . Little Africa

I Showed my Patriotism in . . . Little Africa

Again I apologize for my absence on the blog; it is still due to the fact I still do not have Internet in my apartment.  In France’s defense, it really isn’t her fault (and yes, the French refer to their country as a woman and use the female pronoun profusely).  In hindsight, there is a much simpler way in getting Internet here.  Back in June when I was in transition and the relocation agent was helping she offered to get me signed up for Internet along with my electricity, bank services and parking.  Of course, I just said “yes” believing she would have been the expert.  First it took her a while to getting around to open my account for me as she balanced several other clients.  Then since she was opening the account in my name, she had to deal with the main office of Orange (France Telecom) that is based in . . .  Lille, a town way up north practically in the country formally known as Belgium (another topic for another day).  Everything is set-up in my name but everything has to be completed through the mail now.  So I have received my converter box.  In addition I have received the letter acknowledging my request to open the account , which I had to sign and return back.  Now I am so ever so patiently waiting for the “access code” so that I can properly use the converter box.  Again this code is coming through snail mail.  Does everyone go through this long process?  No, because Orange has boutiques in all the malls here.  So I could have gone there in person in my makeshift French and literally walk out an hour later with the converter box, access code and all paperwork signed.  One thing I would say about France is they love their processes and don’t disrupt it if you are in the middle of one.  Hence why I am not going to the store now and try to alter the outcome.

One repeated word of advice since I have gotten here is “be patient; things go slower here.

So let us back up a minute – what did I do for the 4th of July?  Well I went to Petite Afrique (Little Africa).  Some of you are biting your tongue at this moment because you probably already figured out how I was disappointed at one level.  Yet it really was a fantastic day.  One of the expat MeetUp.com groups that I have joined to meet people planned a nice day at the beach for the Americans.  The beach was called Petite Afrique and is outside a beautiful village, Beaulieu-sur-Mer (literally translated Beautiful Place by the Sea).  Of the beaches I have experienced, this one has several pluses.  For one, the stones are much smaller and easier to walk on.   The biggest disappointment (to me) about the beaches in Nice is that they are not sand but huge stone beaches.  It is actually uncomfortable to walk barefoot in Nice.  Petite Afrique is more tolerable.  (You want a sand beach?  You’ll have to go west to at least Antibes or Cannes for that.)  Another positive is that it is a true locals beach and not a lot of tourists.  We were the only group there speaking English to prove that point.  You won’t find this beach in your tour guide as you do have to drive a bit to get there.  The view is magnificent as the cliffs soar above this beach.  You float in the water and just look up at these looming natural structures above you.  Then there was a float in the middle of this tiny bay that you could swim out to and dive off.  Of course the kids dominated this float for the afternoon but that didn’t stop us adults from coming out and taking over.  We were bold enough to take with us bottles of wine and glasses to the float.  We chilled there drinking our wine and simply relaxed and taking in the sun on a Sunday afternoon.  I am sure what we did was illegal even by French standards, but the lifeguard on duty didn’t bother us.  You can only imagine how well I slept after a full day at the beach, eating and drinking (click to view image).

Of course the second African factor is that the World Cup is over.  South Africa succeeded in pulling off one of the greatest international events. I just hope it feels some economic benefits from all this attention. Then Ghana gave an amazing performance as an African voice in the tournament.  I am disappointed in myself for not watching more of it.  Without having a television, it has been a challenge to have access to the coverage.

Luanda, Angola - The most expensive city to live in

Luanda, Angola - The most expensive city to live in

Another African factor this week was the recent expatriate report by Mercer that my fellow Notre Dame alumnus, Michael Barrett, brought to my attention.  This firm routinely does an analysis of all the cities in the world and calculates the cost of living from an expat perspective.  Then rates them from the most expensive to the cheapest.  The big buzz this year is that several African cities are at the top of the list!  For you economists out there, this news is big because it is showing the changes in currency and who has the purchasing power.  So many things are fluctuating right now at a global scale.  It is exciting and unsuring at the same time.  So where is Nice in the report?  Nowhere in the press highlights which is a good thing – I believe.  My friends of stronger economic background can correct me but I believe you don’t want to be at either end of the list.  You don’t want to be living in the cities at the top of the list because you will spend all your salary on basic necessities.  Then you won’t have much left in your wallet.  So you will be living in this exciting foreign city but not able to do anything; envision the concept of being house poor.  You may be attracted to the other end of the list because those cities are all dirt-cheap.  True, but don’t forget your salary will be in that currency too so you still won’t have much purchasing power particularly if you want to travel to the surrounding regions.  I believe the best places to live are the one that fall in the middle of the list and do not attract attention of the press.  Those are the places where the currency is solid and you do not have to use all your money on just surviving.  Paris is only coming in at #17 and I know Nice is cheaper than Paris.  Interesting that cities like Milan, Italy and Oslo, Norway are more expensive than France.  Even more interesting is that there are not any American cities at the top end of the list, including New York City (#27) .  A clear sign of the weaken dollar.

So what is next?  France’s turn at patriotism as Wednesday is a national holiday equivalent to the State’s 4th of July celebration.  Can’t wait to see the fireworks from my terrace!

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Categories: Everyday Life
  1. Scott in Philly
    13 July 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Interesting read again Scott… I read about those cities in Huffpost… I hope the fireworks are beautiful!

  2. monda
    13 July 2010 at 1:24 pm

    i saw the place in a movie called dirty rotten scoundles the sea your talking about

  3. London
    13 July 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Really? I need to rent that movie again. I missed that.

  4. Bev
    13 July 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Vive le France!!

  5. Andrew Keenan
    23 July 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Missing you and hope to hear form you soon. How was your tip home?

  6. Alexis T
    3 August 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Have you received the confirmation that DSL is now active on your phone line? I don’t remember the exact process (especially with Orange), but I believe you get the access code with the mail that confirms the activation of the broadband service. If you have a customer number with Orange, you should either check at the local Orange store (or call their customer service) and they should be able to tell you the status of your line.
    I agree that sometimes, you should disrupt the process, but there are ways to speed it up. Make your voice heard as a customer. You are probably paying for a service that you can’t use yet – I’ve read about such experience with ISPs.

  7. London
    3 August 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Exactly, I am waiting oh so patiently for that Access Code . . . . STILL! I have called Orange and they understood my request to send it “again”. I have stopped by the boutique weeks later and witnessed the guy write on my account to send the code “again”. Still nothing. At the end of the week I may have to ask a French colleague to call for me in order to ask the “right question” which is so important in this beautiful country. 😉

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