Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And so it has to end ...

I left Jacqueville having spent my last evening with 'la blanche' having dinner together outside her house on the beach. Sad to be leaving ... why is it that I'm always so sad leaving places in Cote d'Ivoire??? We walked back to Hotel Grace in town with people going past us saying 'bonsoir' and then a guy comes up to me in the dark & says 'Bonsoir' to me ... bit confused I didn't recognise him in a suit, it was Guy, my young money changer looking very smart!

Getting up early I said goodbye to Dudu the owner of Hotel Grace and paid my final 3,000CFA for the night. Wandered down to the gare routiere to find transport directly to Abidjan, one company has a pirogue on the lagoon so that you don't have to wait for the 'bac' across. Took forever thanks to some short guy with a personality complex of inferiority ... decided to throw us all out of one van and into a brand new vehicle; great except a tyre needed changing and they had to go off to find one. I was not impressed as I wanted to be in Abidjan early to get a few things done!

Finally we were on the road, got into the second vehicle the Sogon side of the lagoon and within a few kilometres almost ran over a gazelle of some type, stunning creature! Finally we reached Treichville after endless bottleneck jams in Abidjan prior to crossing the lagoon. I found a taxi or woro woro (shared taxi without a meter) and an honest driver and hopped in ... to then find he wanted me to stay at his for the night - here we go again ... no I needed a hotel, cheap one in Treichville or Zone 4 (where I knew cheap hotels don't exist).

He took me to Hotel Treichville on a promise that I'd call him later to go out, like I didn't have better things to do!!! Hotel Treichville was 10,000CFA a night with air-con, but didn't have anything without air-con; they sent me to Hotel du Prince (with my ever annoying taxi driver) on Av. 23; found a room with a shower & basin for 6,000CFA with a fan, probably the cheapest place in Abidjan. Opposite my window was the mosque, I knew I would be in for a delight early next morning, but the calling to prayers doesn't usually bother me, in fact I enjoy it! I had my doubts as to 'what type' of hotel I'd just booked into but I'd been to worse & it was clean!

Dumped everything, showered, changed into clothes that were more fit for Abidjan and not as to look like I was some country bumpkin and set off into town. Had an interesting day, met up with a friend I'd met a few weeks previously who works for FIF and went out for dinner with a friend who is with the BBC in Cote d'Ivoire. Had some interesting conversations at a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the lagoon in Cocody!

I left early the next morning to head to Treichville market to buy some bits & pieces, I also wanted a couple of pintade to take down to Assouinde for everyone. But then the thought of carrying 2+ live pintade (guinea fowl) and my two backpacks was a bit much when a whole cage of them got loose in the market & I realised that I could cause complete mayhem in a minibus down to Assouinde!!! I found the market cafe, waited very patiently to be served. All the market traders were having breakfast there & I had to wait till 9am to change money at the bank so joined them. Yet again the smallest, dirtiest little street cafe produces good food & great coffee!!!

Eventually caught a minibus to Bonoua where I hoped to find Eme & his taxi. After a bit of a mouthful from the guy trying to fill taxis who said 'Oi, blanche, tu va ou?' I gave him a lesson in diplomacy and pointed out if I yelled 'oi, noir' it wouldn't go down well. Eme came up to see what all the fuss was about and made him apologise to me ... think he learnt his lesson & I left my bags to go shopping. I found a youngster had tagged along with me wanting to carry my bags, tried to get rid of him but he was persistent & looked an absolute mess, very skinny, shredded clothes etc, so I held onto him. He carried my bags full of avocados, pineapples & plantain that I was taking to Assouinde with me. I spotted someone cooking brochettes & rongions .. so I bought one each for us; my little helper was thrilled. He deposited the bags in the back of Eme's taxi and was about to run off when I called him back & handed him 100CFA, he was astonished that I'd bought him food & paid him!

Another couple of days at the beach, doing not very much at all, very lazy, great to be back. Met a lovely Lebanese guy Mimo a friend of JB's who seemed to know all the other Lebanese I'd met, lives in San Pedro near the Liberian border. I wanted to return Arsene's tapettes (jandals, thongs, flip-flops - whichever language you speak)! But Arsene had just gone off to Burkina that morning & it seems that I probably passed him on the road as he was getting the train from Abidjan. I rang him having handed over the tapettes to Mack his brother & he died laughing at me for bringing them back!!!

The leg wound was getting worse, deeper, I kept pouring the powdered penicillin I'd bought in Jacqueville into it, bathing it in the sea. Getting a lot of advice from all of them ... but the worst of it was keeping the flies away from the wound, disgusting!

Billie, the owner of Blue Marin, the nightclub in the village came up to eat at Le Jardin a few times & invited me down to the club with him. Then it all started. Bedie, the former President had been on a 'tour' around the Sud-Comoe region & I stupidly mentioned that he'd been through Bassam & Bonoua, my transport had been held up because of him. Turns out that one of my friends is pro-Bedie whilst another is vehemently against him ... the argument went on over dinner with me trying to steer the conversation away from it all. Finally I suceeded & said I'd go down to the village later & to the club.

Arriving at the club, Billie wanted me to hear his politics & got the waitresses to set up a table & chairs in a far corner in the garden of the club. He started telling me his background, tribal roots etc when the others arrived & it all blew up again. They kept asking me, my opinion of it all; I pointed out that it's not my politics but they were all talking about the past, surely there's someone out there that is 'new' & would be good for the future of the country???

I left early, needless to say!!!

So after a few days on the beach; my leg got some great sea water into it and I continued adding penicillin until I got back to Bassam - which was quite a journey, only about 30km by road but I was waiting for Eme's taxi again, when a Lebanese friend's friend pulled up outside the Maquis. Dudu is Lebanese/Ghanaian born in CI, huge guy - offered me a lift to Bassam as he was going up to Abidjan and had managed to find a car and driver as his car was in a garage in Abidjan. Journey started well; he realised I knew Mimo the Lebanese from San Pedro as Mimo had been staying with him. Then the weed came out - no problem they could smoke if they wanted to - until he offered the driver some which had our vehicle driving on both sides of the road, in the bush and never in a straight line - luckily he wasnt going too fast but nevertheless we had oncoming trucks heading to Nigeria fully laden which we had a few near misses with!!!

I spent the first evening with Denis and a friend of his at a maquis to be joined by Eric + Diouf from the orphanage with some alarming news. One of the kids had come back from his grandfathers after Christmas with some money and two days later ran away ... Eric spent days looking around town for him (didn't know that he had money as he'd told all the kids to hand the money in), he was on Bassam radio, with the police (utterly incompetent) finally after 5 days the boys uncle rang from Abidjan to say the boy was with them. The family want the boy to return but I dont blame Eric, he doesn't want him back ...

No comments: