Arriving in Abidjan: Akissi is Born

I have officially been reborn.

Not in a religious, "I've seen the light" sense. And not even in a, "I've finally slept a full 9 hours" sense - though after 17 hours of traveling, I'm looking forward to that rebirth as well. (See the map below for my route).

No, I'm talking about the rebirth described to me by my embassy contact, Angele Gnako, whom I also lovingly refer to as my Mama Gnako. According to Angele, I experienced a rebirth the moment that I landed in Côte d'Ivoire, because, "You were never truly born until you arrived in Africa," which in my case, was Monday, September 26th, 2016. Yesterday's rebirth has the following implications:

  1. Much to the dismay of the Democratic party, I am in fact the biggest baby in the world, not Donald Trump.
  2. My life until now has meant nothing (sorry friends).
  3. Per Baoulé tradition, I needed to update my name.

According to the Baoulé people (a tribe from Northern Côte d'Ivoire, of which Mama Gnako is a member), the day that you are born determines a part of your name.


Monday: Kouassi & Akissi;   Tuesday: Kouadio & Adjoua;   Wednesday: Konan & Amenan;   Thursday: Kouakou & Ahou

Friday: Yao & Aya;   Saturday: Koffi & Affoué;   Sunday: Kouamé & Amoin

For example, Baoulé boys born on Thursdays will often have "Kouakou" as part of their full names; girls born on Fridays will have "Aya," etc.  In keeping with this tradition, my arrival on a Monday means that I have been reborn: Cathryn Caldwell Akissi Peirce. Nice ring to it, non? I also couldn't help but conclude that this name was particularly meant for me once I learned that "akissi!" is cheered to get people to smile for a photograph, much like "cheese!" in the United States. My name, therefore, is an actual allusion to smiling. That seems like a good omen.

Though it remains unclear what this new life has in store for me, I'm excited to find out, I'm excited to find reasons to smile, and I'm excited to update you along the way.

Until Next Time,



      Sweet Goodbyes at the Philadelphia Airport

     Sweet Goodbyes at the Philadelphia Airport