Saturday, May 08, 2010

equivalent neighborhood?

I was asked in a comment to compare Pointe-Noire to some US city/neighborhood. I could even break it down to individual aspects if it would help with better comparisons. I don’t think I have seen enough of the United States to find a good comparison to most aspects of this city. Or that’s just my polite way of saying I don’t think there is anywhere in the US that is this poorly developed. You’re not going to find a half-million person city in the US with infrastructure like this. You’d be hard pressed to find a half-thousand person rural town in the US with infrastructure like Pointe-Noire. I think sewage is ok, though it all likely goes into the ocean untreated, but there are occasional power outages, water quality is suspect, food hygiene issues, telephones seem ok, but mobile service seems like it might be over-capacity, internet is less available, and air quality is middling with what I assume are zero emission controls for cars and industry.

As I said before, it’s not a bad city in the sense that it is better than expected. It’s just, as a whole, a still developing (I hope) city. One person who has been here about a year told me he has seen significant improvement in the city in the past year so I certainly appreciate not having been here a year ago. There is construction all over the place, children go to school, and while people are poor-ish (not really sure how poor), food appears to be available.

Part of my inability to really assess to the city is the insular world I live in. I’m at work. I’m at home. I’m out with co-workers. But it’s all an expat world. I’ve seen and been to a couple uniquely local things and I’ll discuss them at some future date, but the vast majority of my time is spent working, sleeping, or eating in an environment that could be transported to many other places. Except for the beach. It’s pretty sweet to eat fresh calamari and crab on the beach just 50m from the water.


Anonymous said...

Compare apple to orange? Don’t. Learn the local custom and respect it’s culture. Be part of the community. When in Rome…

Are those fresh calamari and crabs fished from the ocean that the untreated sewage goes in?

Mike said...

I agree that it's impossible to compare third-world cities to US (or European) cities (haven't seen all of Detroit yet, so maybe i shouldn't speak so quickly). It's hard to know what to expect until you set your feet on the ground.

When visiting Hyderabad, India, I saw the following things which would never happen over here:
-> Road habits: stop signs and lights essentially ignored, four people on a motorcycle, cars passing three-wheelers passing trucks at the same time on a two-lane road with oncoming traffic.
-> Construction workers taking their shoes off when showing up at the job site to work, with their kids wandering randomly.
-> Welders working on the dirt between the road and their shop, wearing no eye protection or other gear.
-> There was definitely trash everywhere, but not near the top of the list of sketchy things.

Oh, there's so much more commentary I have, but I should actually put that on my own blog.

Anonymous said...

fresh octopus Very very fresh.

Brian said...

Don't worry, the sewage pipe goes further down the coast. Maybe.