29th of July 2019 – 8th of August 2019:
Since we reached West Africa, we realized that nobody has change and one has to pay always with the smallest bill possible. Sometimes, we have to wait up to half an hour to get our change. The women in the markets usually send one of their children who run from one shop to the next to get small coins or bills. In Ivory Coast, this money phenomenon got even worse and we found out that there is a reason for it. Up to this point, we thought the reason is that people spend the money as soon as they earn it. In Ivory Coast, the currency CFA-Franc is used. Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Niger use the same currency. The problem here is that there are not enough coins available and therefore the market value of the hard cash exceeds the real value. Therefore, businessmen import coins illegally from other countries to change them in Ivory Coast. Because of that, the locals do not like to give away the valuable coins and this is the reason of the change problem.
Abidjan the largest city of the country with almost four million citizens and lays in the gulf of Guinea. Since a long time, we could finally find products like yoghurt, muesli or fresh bread for a reasonable price again. In the richer quarters, there is a “boulangerie” (bakery) or «pâtisserie» (pastry shop) in every corner with delicious bread and pastry. Nicolas apartment lays in the quarter Cocody and belongs to the fancy neighborhoods of Abidjan. There is running water, hot water, electricity and internet. All things we have not seen since almost a month.
The Ghana Visa had the highest priority on our to-do list. After we organized all necessary documents (2 passport pictures, 2 application forms and 2 colored copies of our last visas), we cycled to the embassy. After the detailed security check, the unfriendly woman at the counter told us that we had to fill out the application forms again, since the quality of ours was not sufficient. Agreed, our printout in bright green was not very beautiful, but it fulfilled its purpose we thought. Luckily, she accepted everything and did not ask us for the residency card, which is normally necessary for the application of the visa. After three days, we could pick up the passport with the new visa.
Sport 3 is a bicycle shop with European spare parts and mechanic that know what they do. With the help of Nicolas we explained all our problems and they said that the repair of Adrian’s bicycle should not be a problem. Finally, they cleaned the muddy bikes, exchanged Adrian’s chain, cassette, the two small wheels in the back and the bottom bracket. In addition, we both got new brake pads and payed not even 20 Euros for everything. After one week, we picked up our beloved two-wheelers and thanked the motivated and interested mechanics.
We met Nico for a beer at his last evening in Africa for a while and discussed about our experiences in West Africa. It is rather interesting how we mostly shared the same views, despite we did not travel together that long.
We finally washed all our clothes using a washing machine instead our hands and cold water. We even washed our dirty and bloody mosquito net for the first time.
The Nigerian visa bothers us since a long time, it is very difficult to get this specific visa. We tried our luck at the Plateau, the business district of the city. Quickly, we realized that we had no chance and have to try online or in another country again. In Abidjan, it is only possible with a residency card. To get such a card one has to live in the country for minimum twelve months.
Nicolas cleaner and friend cooked a local dish called Gouagouassou for us with her friend and we ate with our hands out of the same plate to the surprise of the shy Ivoirians. The dish contained a spicy sauce, grilled fish and a lot of rice.
During most evenings, we used the luxury of the beamer of Nicolas and watched some movies, which addressed Africa or had actors with Africans origins in it.
Before we left for this trip, we did all possible vaccinations like yellow fever, hepatitis, meningitis, tetanus, rabies etc. Since some vaccinations have to be refreshed after a year, we searched a vaccination center to get our fourth and last rabies shot. Security person at the entrance said it was not possible on this day because of the upcoming holiday. We did not believe him and found the responsible doctor shortly afterwards and in about 15 minutes, we got our vaccination. In Africa, everything is somehow possible!
Finally, we could say we were malaria free for the first time. We both did another quick test and the result was negative. Therefore, we were glad to continue our drug free phase.
On the seventh of august 1960, Ivory Coast gained independence from France. Since the maintenance of the bicycles took more time than expected, we were still in town and wanted to see the parade. However, all the people we asked, they said they have no clue where and when that would happen. Apparently, people are not interested. Finally, we decided to cycle into town to see the parade. To be sure that we would not cycle all the way for nothing, we asked some locals in a bar. A group of men with colorful football jersey explained us that the parade was already finished and most people like themselves celebrate in small groups in a bar. When they saw our disappointed faces, they said we should celebrate with them and ordered immediately a beer for us. The middle-aged men meet regularly to play football and visit some bars afterwards until the motivation is gone. Already after a couple of minutes, one of the men gave Adrian his traditional head covering as a present and he proudly wore it the rest of the day. Dancing started already in the second bar and they taught us how to dance to different kinds of music. We enjoyed the uncomplicated ambiance and even with the language barrier, we had interesting conversations. In the third bar, we all were quite drunk and the bottles emptied themselves slower as before. Shortly before dusk, we said goodbye to the funny bunch. Hermann gave us a jersey of the football national team as a present. We were very happy about this gift, since we loved the colors from the first time we saw it.
Some weeks ago, we wrote a message into a Facebook group specifically for Western Africa that we search for somebody to bring a few things from Europe to Abidjan. Indeed, Gian, a Swiss traveler who planned to fly to Abidjan replied and brought a few things for us.
Since a couple of weeks, we had problems with the zippers on our tent. Both entrances were only possible to close after several attempts and therefore we replaced them and searched for a tailor. Practically, one can find everything in an African city in a radius of 500 meters. Just after we entered the road, we heard the sound of a clinking scissor and we knew what that meant. The young man from Niger walks every day of the week through the streets of the quarter and fixes clothes. In no time, he repaired the whole that resulted in changing the zippers and even had a fitting strand available.