Sunday, January 11, 2009

The coast beckons!

Leaving Bouake I had no idea where I was going. South, sea, sand, beach ... were all in my mind plus the salt water would do my infected leg the world of good. So I headed for Dabou on the 'coast' - actually on a lagoon.

I got to Bouake's gare routiere at 7am, it was hell. Reminded me of Senegal, touts all over who all spotted 'la blanche' at once; I walked off to the market & ignored the lot of them! Re-emerging from the market not having spotted anywhere for a coffee, I braved finding a minibus driver to get a front seat on something heading to Yamassoukro, still not sure of my final destination of Dabou.

The driver told me where to get off in Yamoussoukro to get transport for Abidjan. Either he didn't know Yamoussoukro or he wasn't listening but I ended up about 2km away from the gare routiere for Abidjan. Yet again touts descended on me and when I asked the price for a ticket to Eboli, about 80km short of Abidjan they gave me some ridiculous price. My phone came out, I rang Ibi - he was worried for me & wanted to come & help but there was no need, I just needed the price of a ticket to Abidjan so I could work out how much less it should be to Eboli.

Got on a very hot minibus and headed south for Abidjan. Finally we reached the Eboli checkpoint on the autoroute. According to my map there was a village at Eboli but I couldn't see one, yet the driver wanted me off there ... I refused & asked him to drop me at the edge of the village. I walked off the autoroute and 2km through the village asking around for a taxi, I found the gare routiere with taxi's bound for Sikensi where apparently I'd find a taxi for Dabou. It was HOT!!! I got lucky & found a taxi that was ready to leave once I was on board. However I then discovered that the taxi's for Sikensi left from Becedi, not Sikensi. So I had to get another taxi to Becedi which is where I met Abru.

Abru was a lovely guy, saw I was exhausted, stunned I'd managed to get from Bouake since the morning and asked if I'd eaten yet. I said no, so he offered me lunch. Yet again I had another offer of sincere Ivorian hospitality. We got to Becedi & right next to the gare routiere was a maquis. He ordered rice & sauce, or so I thought, but out of the kitchen came the most wonderful piece of meat with a fantastic sauce; turned out to be venison. Abru was telling me about a festival in his village which one day I'd love to go to, gory as it sounded. Apparently they slit their stomachs open so the intestines are showing and then push the folds of skin together and bind it shut with an egg!!! I kid you not! Not for the faint-hearted but would be amazing to see ....

11hrs, 2 minibuses, 6 taxi's, a kilometre walk off the motorway through a village in the middle of the day and a boat later (with a very short temper by the time I got there!!) I was in Jacqueville having been persuaded to go there by Abru. I wasn't too enamoured with Dabou when I went through it, so spent an hour or so in the gare routiere there waiting for transport & being chatted up by a Malinke!

Jacqueville was gorgeous; blew me away; reminded me so much of NZ; so many bachs/cribs - great people; good vibe - I was thrilled except I couldn't swim as the sea was too dangerous! I met a Franco-Ivorienne who lives there, near retirement in France she was happy in Jacqueville and very confused when people met her off the Abidjan transport to tell her that another 'blanche' had turned up. What confused her further was I'd been asking around for someone to change my euros on the black market & everyone had said she might be interested. Unfortunately she wasn't and my 'day off' was looking doomed with an enforced trip into Abidjan just to change money. However a lovely guy called Guy finally sorted it all out for me!

My new 'blanche' friend examined my leg wound which was a bit of a mess by the time I got to Jacqueville and we decided to go to hospital ...

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