Friday, December 17, 2010

Entering Cote d'Ivoire ...

Left Takoradi at 11am today, got a tro-tro directly to the border, my stomach had a mind of it’s own and had been doing somersaults since early morning.  For once I spent less time arguing with tro-tro drivers over luggage money having thrown an early fit over the extra stuff I was taking which was for Ivoirians, some guy got a mouthful from me & backed down immediately.  Stomach giving me a lot of grief having to visit Takoradi tro-tro station's public conveniences just due to nerves; in my head I was determined I was going to return to Cote d’Ivoire.

We finally got to the border around 1.20pm, I asked the tro-tro driver not to drop me at the tro-tro station but up near the immigration post for Ghana, he was obliging & saved me having to lug my luggage through Elubo’s chaos to get to immigration.  Exited Ghana without a problem, got to the road to get a taxi the 800m or so up to Noe (CI) border.  After a bit of a fuss, got one for 1GhC then he said I could sit & wait for the other 4/5 passengers he needed to fill it.  Offered him another 0.20GhC to get going immediately, we started off up the hill & a white pick-up went tearing past us.  I immediately realised it was my Czech friend Tomas’ business pick-up,yelled at my driver to catch it up & we overtook it with me calling to Achille, in fact it was Marcel.  He indicated to my driver to pull over, he jumped out & I got a great hug from him.  He hauled  my luggage into the back of it & we finished the last 400m together as Achille, Tomas’ business partner whizzed past in the Tata which I’d seen parked at the Ghanaian immigration post but not paid it much attention, not believing they would be at the border.  More hugs & kisses all round as I saw the final vehicle of their convoy, a truck full of their goods arrived, which got put straight into the customs shed.
I got to the vaccination centre to show my yellow fever certificate, I’d thought all was well but they noticed my meningitus was out of date.  Wanted me to be vaccinated there & then, I refused due to the fact my own syringes & needles were  now in the back of Achille’s car about to clear customs with him whilst I was on foot with just a small bag, didn't want to draw attention to the medicines I was bringing in.  I was only a month or so out of date so it really wasn’t that desperate, after a bit of pleading in English only, I was allowed to leave.  Immigration were fine, friendly & had a laugh with me and I wandered out into the street without so much as a glace from customs at my daypack.

Achille drove as fast as he could westwards.   We went through about 6 military blockades, all friendly nothing too sinister, the most thorough being at N’Kizro just before Samo.  Then we got to the edge of the lagoon at Bassam, I expected to see a roadblock there between the two bridges as there had been in the past.  There was a roadblock but governed by about 30 men aged around 20, turned out to be Ouattara supporters, one was sat on the a bench he’d placed in the only position you could pass as the rest of the width of the road had tyres & others bits on it.  Kept making eating motions whilst about 3 descended on the car demanding money saying the guy on the bench was a Betie (pro-Gbagbo normally), Achille asked them why he needed to negotiate and after a 30 second or so negotiation we were allowed to pass.  At the other end of the second bridge there was a little gang of 50 or so all ranting at the occupants of a minibus.  We passed without further problems & Achille dropped me at my friends.

I’ve been here only a few hours.  So much isn’t going on, but the undercurrent is there, no taxis, prices hiked up due to no deliveries, Red Cross passing us at a bar where we were initially the only ones.  I heard shots but took no notice; we have come back to the house early than normal.  The TV is turned on, it’s national TV, RTI – Gbagbo controlled & very interesting what was coming across, to my mind some of it was true, some of it might be considered half truths but a very firm messageis coming across, Sarkozy,the UN, African Union etc cannot control what happens in this country and he’s here to stay.  Rumours are abound, Ouattara is at Licorne, the French army HQ, 21 died yesterday  ‘Abbatoir Thursday’.  Diplomats refused their immunity & shoulder held rockets were shown on TV apparently the UNOCI were responsible for getting weapons to the ‘Forces Nouvelles’ aka  ‘old rebels’ who are pro-Ouattara; amongst messages from the armed forces & justice ministers, my mind is swirling amazed at the propaganda.  

I'm in my room as the obvious brainwashing is just too much to take and to see my friends lapping up every word worries me, there are two sides to every story.  I don’t know what to think, I have my own theory on the future here if this situation continues, I’m not going to write it here but I just hope this ends peacefully without anymore bloodshed.  The economy can’t take this much longer they’ll loose what has been built up over the last few years.

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