windy backs and sunny faces

Expat living as we see it



Our First Guests!

Normally, when we offer an invitation for people to come visit us in PoG, we receive 1 of two different responses: “I really want to buuuuuut…” or “Maybe I will wait until your next location”. These responses are to be expected because, lets face it, Port-Gentil is not exactly a vacation hot spot. However, in June we were fortunate enough to have two wonderful visitors for a whole week… my parents!

I’m pretty sure my parents began planning their visit to PoG before Seth and I had even left the US last July. My mom has wanted to take an African safari for quite some time and us living in West Africa gave them the perfect reason to make it over here. Their trip developed into an incredible tour beginning in Capetown, South Africa, then leading them up to Port-Gentil, and finally ending with a couple of weeks in Tuscany.

During the week in Capetown, my parents kept us updated on their travels by sharing little gems like these…
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Seeing their pictures and hearing about their incredible trip has fully convinced Seth and me (not that it took much work) that Capetown is an absolutely must see while we are here.

After an amazing week in South Africa, my parents made their way to PoG.  Prior to their arrival I was pretty sure we could find enough things to do to fill our days and had mapped out a general plan.  I couldn’t wait to show them around!  As excited as we were, the time of their arrival was a bit concerning as we were having a LOT of water supply issues.  My mom kept saying that she wanted to live a day in our life, and I was afraid they might get exactly that… bottle baths and all.

We woke up Saturday and checked out an end-of-the-year school performance that our friends’ daughter was in.  Getting to see this was a new experience even for myself as I had never really spent time at a local school. This school is comprised of both expats and Gabonese and is held to the French school system. DSC00406 DSC00408We grabbed lunch at one of our favorite spots and headed home to get ready for a BBQ at the compound.  I have said many times before that the best part of being in Port-Gentil is getting to know people from all over the world, and I couldn’t wait to introduce my parents to so many of the amazing people we have met here!  We had a great time and ate some yummy food but unfortunately we forgot to take pictures!

Sunday morning we took my parents to our “Sunday spot”, Cap Lopez.

Lunch with a view!
Lunch with a view!
my dad
Dad and the fish he picked out for lunch.

After lunch









DSC00426Monday morning came and we headed to Grande Village, one of the local markets.  My parents were considering getting some kind of clothing made from local fabric, so our first stop was to see Uzman, the tailor.  We searched for the perfect fabric for my Dad’s new shirt and Mom’s skirt/jacket combo and left the rest to Uzman (They turned out wonderful!).  We spent the rest of the day meandering through the market, and eventually made our way down to the port to see the fish market as well.

our wonderful and very talented hostess, Nisha!
Our wonderful and very talented hostess, Nisha!


My friend Nisha graciously offered to teach my parents a little about Indian cuisine, so Tuesday morning we made our way to her house.  She treated us to a few Indian appetizers and then taught us how to cook a chicken curry, that was absolutely to die for!


Anyone who knows my parents, knows that any party is not complete without a pizza party! So, Tuesday night my mom broke out some doughs and taught our friends the secret to making a perfect pie.

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We spent Wednesday morning at the zoo getting up close and personal with all of the animals.

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After a great lunch with friends at Sogora, I brought my mom to Mission Nissi.  The kids were so excited to meet my mom and quickly dubbed her “Tanti Bev”.  We had fun doing an exercise video, but the REAL fun started when my mom brought out her camera.  The kids LOVED taking pictures and seeing themselves, and a mini photo-shoot ensued.  You can see from the picture below how loving these kids are.  Mission Nissi is such a special place for me and I am so happy my mom was able to experience it.

DSC00549Our friends Magdi and Antionette invited us for a delicious Egyptian dinner that night.  Those who know my mom ALSO know that every party needs a little karaoke; Magdi and Seth were very happy to provide some background music.

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Since we have moved to Port-Gentil, I have bragged about how delicious Rosette’s cooking is and Thursday morning my parents got to try it themselves.  Rosette gave us some tips for true Gabonese cuisine and created a fantastic lunch of fried plantain, rice, and chicken with veggies.  DSC00555 DSC00557








Thursday night came very quickly and before we knew it my parents’ stay in Port-Gentil had come to an end.  And the best part? We had running water the WHOLE time!  My parents were on to their next stop… Italy!  Luckily for us, we were not too far behind!

A couple weeks ago, my husband celebrated his 32nd birthday.  He made my birthday such a special day and I wanted to try to do the same for him.  I began scheming with one of my friends and she graciously offered to host a party for him at her home.  We decided to make it a surprise party… and I think we pulled off a pretty good one!  Here are some pictures from the night, courtesy of our friend H!

Seth's "what is going on here" face
The set up: We were going out to eat with some friends, but needed to go pick them up because they were having car trouble. When we arrived, Ani was still getting ready so Ali invited us in for a drink. We told Seth there was a power outage in their area (very believable here!) which was why the lights were out. This picture was taken just before the lights came back.
The lights come on and SURRRPRIIIISE!!!




The birthday boy with his official beer glass... before it broke!
The birthday boy with his official beer glass… before it broke!
SO sorry Ali :(
SO sorry Ali 😦


The whole crew.  Thank you everyone for joining the celebration and making it so special!
The whole crew. Thank you everyone for joining the celebration and making it so special!

The PoG zoo

For a while now, I have been hearing about the Port-Gentil zoo and today I finally got to go!! Before heading over there, my friend and I stocked up on mangoes, papayas, bananas, apples, and avocados to give to the animals.  Yes I did just say GIVE TO THE ANIMALS…. like literally put the fruit in their hand!  I was a little skeptical heading over there thinking to myself, ‘theres no way they will let us just feed them’…. but feed them we did 🙂

rabbits… in a zoo? sure why not
-ducks too! not pictured are the hundreds of guinea pigs in the next cage over
As we made our way past all of these “wild animals” we started hearing some hooping and hollering coming from a few cages back.  This is who we found:

chowing down... he couldn't get enough of the fresh fruit!
chowing down… he couldn’t get enough of the fresh fruit!

As soon as we walked up, he knew we must have some goodies because he darted right over to us.  Yall, I have never been this up close and personal with a beast like this…  All that stood between us was a chain link cage!  In the picture above, you can see his right hand reaching out- there is a tube that extends from outside of his cage to where is hand is- this is how we passed the fruit to him.

This big guy!!
This big guy!!
Notice the mango in his foot... saving it for later?
Notice the mango in his foot… saving it for later?

We continued through the zoo and found more hungry guys.  I took pictures while my friend fed them and at one point, one of these guys reached through the fence and swatted me! I guess I wasn’t getting his good side….diva…

IMG_2157[1] IMG_2153[1] IMG_2156[1] IMG_2158[1] IMG_2159[1]Before making one last stop by the gorilla again, we found some goat/deer-ish guys….

This was the smallest piece of fruit we had left... he worked hard to get that thing through his cage!
This was the smallest piece of fruit we had left… he worked hard to get that thing through his fence!

I will admit, there is not a whole lot to do in PoG.  Its days like today though that help me realize that we’ve experienced things here that we never could back in the states…. and that’s whats so exciting about being here!  SO if you want to feed monkey some fruit, come visit us! 🙂

Last week I celebrated my 28th birthday.  While 28 is not really a special number, this birthday is absolutely one I will never forget.

Prior to my birthday, my husband asked me what I would like as a gift.  While his thought was very sweet, we both laughed at the availability of shopping for anything here and I told him to not worry about it… after all, its the thought that counts right?  That said, we decided a good way to celebrate would be a date night at a local restaurant.  The morning of my birthday, my husband left for work early.  I began my daily routine of walking Jersey; however by the time I returned home, my husband’s car was in our driveway again.  I met him on the stairs and he explained he had forgotten something at home.  When I walked inside I was very surprised to see a wrapped gift sitting on the dining room table!  Back in the states this would seem normal… but given our new digs this is a difficult task!  I figured he must have found something at a local shop, but when I opened the package I found gym shorts I was looking at on pinterest a couple of weeks earlier!! Now THIS is a nearly impossible task here! Shipping items here is insane and the only way to do so is via DHL.  I later found out my husband had corroborated with family back in the states… talk about planning!  I was so pleased and the effort this took made me feel very special.

Every morning, my friend Mary is generous enough to give me a ride to the gym.  I had briefly mentioned my birthday to her a couple days earlier, but certainly did not expect her to remember.  When I got in to her car, she greeted me with a big “happy birthday!” and handed me a card.  Then as we walk in to the gym, I was greeted by another friend, Ani, waving pink balloons and saying “happy birthday”!!  This completely warmed my heart and again I felt so special.

All day long, I received messages, emails, and even a couple phone calls with special birthday wishes from family and friends back home.  Thank you everyone for keeping both of us in your hearts while we are away.

Later in the afternoon, I planned to go shopping for table lamps with my friend Lisa.  As mentioned before, shopping here is somewhat of a rarity so of course I was very excited.  The plan was to meet at Lisa’s house and we would leave from there.  When I got to her place, she invited me in and as I was taking off my rain boots, there was suddenly a train of ladies coming from the kitchen singing “Happy Birthday”.  I was completely blown away!!  I have known these ladies for a very short time, and for them to celebrate with me in a such a special way was so incredible!  I am amazed by how quickly relationships are formed here and how special they become in that short time.  Several of the ladies captured some moments from the party…

Our yummy spread including some awesome dips, a homemade cake, and champagne!
Posing with some of the ladies and the birthday tree (painted by Lisa) that everyone signed… something I will always keep!


To end the night, my husband and I went to dinner as planned.  We decided on Mama Mia, the Italian joint in town, and dug in to some seriously delish grub.

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When I woke up, I did not have any expectations for this birthday.  My husband, along with family and friends back home, and new family in PoG made this one SO special.

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