20th of July – 28 of July 2019:
Our first night in Ivory Coast, we spent on the porch of a restaurant. The D.J. from the bar next door played loud African pop music until after midnight and already around six in the morning, the restaurant opened again. A rather sleepless night!
After we had to cycle a slippery gravel road, the day before, today we made better progress and we could enjoy a mostly tarred road. Instead of “hello”, the locals greeted us now with “bonjour” and we had to get used to the French language once more.
Our friend Nico, whom we have not seen since Monrovia, recommended a beach behind a small village. Typical for Africa, we already met Prince, the brother of the owner of the beach side, in the city before. He escorted us to the beautiful, sandy beach with lots of palm trees, showed us the village and cooked a delicious dinner for us.
The men of the village took care of us as if we were guests in a luxury resort and asked us what we want to eat for each meal. For all this effort, they did not even want money and even said thank you for our visit. The highlights of Prince cooking skills were fresh fish, snails from the bush and the hearth of a palm tree with a delicious sauce and of course rice by the ton.
During the European winter, the men with Adonis-like bodies dive down to 15m equipped with fins and harpoons to hunt lobsters and other sea dwellers. Now, the fishermen relax in the village and drink lots of rum.
One afternoon, we walked along the beach to find a luxury accommodation owned by an Italian. The long conversation with the African expert was very interesting and it was pleasant to watch an Italian use his hands to speak as a change.
When exploring the village we saw a woman full of tattoos and asked if it was permanent. The women said that the pattern on her body was a tradition of her tribe and after two weeks, it would be gone. On the same day, we both got such a tattoo. Adrian wanted the contours of Africa and Fabian our Cape2Cape logo.
We felt better and decided to leave the paradise beach to continue our trip to Abidjan. For a national road and a main connection between west and east, the road is in a miserable condition. Especially after San Pedro, which is home of the second larger port of the country, there were potholes of the size of trenches. The road led us through many cacao- , rubber- and rice plantations and many people greeted us with a huge smile on their face. Surprisingly, since we entered this country, we encountered hundreds of people on bicycles. Sometimes we saw men on a bicycle loaded with a lot of wood or women with a baby on their back and another child in the front on the bicycle pole. Finally, we decided to wild camp in a rubber plantation, since the weather was beautiful.
The first phase of the rainy season in Ivory Coast is slowly finished, before the rain starts again in September. Since a couple of days, the sun is out more and more and our complexion is definitely getting darker again.
Ivory Coast is famous for its extensive cacao plantations. By far, they are the number one producer of cacao and provide 30% of the worldwide total cacao. Two thirds of the trading revenue are result from the export of the popular beans. Due to insufficient security of investment, they process the cacao beans only until they are dry. In front of many houses, we saw thousands of the brown-black beans spread out on huge tarps. The farmers sell the kilogram for less than 2 Euros.
Twittering of birds and loud chirping of crickets were present while we fell asleep. Around midnight, the alarm rang, since we wanted to update our blog. The abonnement of the local provider offered us 1 GB of internet as a bonus from midnight until 6 AM and certainly, we used this opportunity.
We passed by many small villages with small booths and women in colorful dresses selling their products in a good mood. However, bananas and non-fried snacks we only found after 50 km. In Ivory Coast, many people are enthusiastic about our trip and we have the feeling that for the first time in a while they understand the magnitude of our undertaking. In contrast to Liberia, there are less police road blocks and we only had to show our passports two times so far. On the other hand, the uniformed police officers are equipped with pistols and rifles.
Unfortunately, we had to add another camber into our statistics. Adrian had to break quickly, because of a huge pothole and Fabian was not ready, fell sideways and slided around two meters on the pebbly ground. Luckily, he carried away only a few abrasions from the accident.
For a change, not the early birds form the village, nor the animals woke us up and we awoke cozy and left the immense palm oil plantation in the direction of Abidjan. The production of palm oil in Ivory Coast is in comparison with the big players Malaysia and Indonesia not even mentionable, but nonetheless belongs to the countries with the ten largest production of palm oil. Many orange colored lizards shooed across the road with incredible speed and were probably happy to survive the crossing.
During a meal in a well-equipped restaurant, we were surprised how many women with children and single women visited the place. Sadly, they hardly touched their food and left the restaurant and the rest of the food sometimes ended up in the trash. In the previous countries, we have never seen such a situation and it triggered a reciprocal culture shock.
By reaching Abidjan, we accomplished our next milestone on our journey. Shortly before reaching the city, we saw dozens of men with huge piles of clothes. They washed them in the brown water of a small river.
We were glad that we reached the big city with Adrian’s bicycle and Nicola, our host, welcomed us. The Frenchman with Ethiopian origin lives here since more than a year and cycled in Ghana himself in the past month. Since around a month we could not take a European shower and were happy to wash our bodies with hot water again.