The Ivory Hotel

July was month two of the rainy season in Abidjan. My parents had opted for a late-August R & R that year, 1967. My friends had flown to Europe or the States. I was fifteen and craved company like chocolate. When I couldn’t stand to read or listen to records anymore, I’d slosh through the streets of the diplomatic quarter, where we lived, to the Hotel Ivoire, a white modernist rectangle with a vermilion tower. The Ivoire had a pool, two restaurants, three bars, a theater, a discothèque, a supermarché, and West Africa’s only bowling alley. It was the social center of the city for people like us, diplomats, who had money, and during the school year my friends and I spent much of our free time there.

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