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Ivory Coast… just like Europe!

mad nomad: After so many months, I finally managed to persuade Christina to write one of our reports! Nikos Delkos was also quite persuasive 😉 Enjoy…

 

   Crossing the border from Guinea to Côte d’ Ivoire… eh, I mean Ivory Coast (after so many French-speaking countries, French comes quite natural to me!), we had a cultural shock! The dirt road was unbelievably smooth, no worse than a highway, contrary to the dirt roads (?) in Guinea that looked as if meteors had landed there, with potholes as big as craters. The most shocking of all was that we could see all public lighting in Ivory Coast turned on even in the middle of the day! In Guinea, even in big cities, usually there was no public electricity network at all.

In the morning, some of the female farmers of the area came over where we camped, and they were all full of energy!

   We headed towards the town of Man, in the north of the country. In 2010, after the presidential elections had taken place, there was a series of violent incidents that escalated evolving into civil war, which lasted until the beginning of the next year. Exchanging fires, even inside the city of Abidjan, was an everyday routine. The area around Man experienced this situation quite intensely due to the large number of rebels that occupied the region. The only thing now left as reminiscent of those troubled days are the numerous police and military checkpoints. Nevertheless, we, being “tourists”, encountered only smiles and welcome…

In Ivory Coast it’s common to see graves by the side of the road! Like if they stand there to remind to everyone the severe consequences of a war…

   We made our first stop in Yamoussoukro, which is the official capital of the country, even though it is just the fourth most populated city. While we were riding towards it, the cultural shock became bigger… We were riding on a two-lane highway by all European standards and with tarmac as smooth as velvet… No need to say, of course, that Elias was really depressed, mumbling in despair “Guinea is gone, with its mountains and its dirt roads, everything is gone…!!”.

   We were planning to visit the most famous Dame, one of the tallest in the world… We saw it from far away, majestic as it was, standing in the middle of a vast plain – Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix! It was built under the orders of the first president of Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny. It was completed in 1989 and it is one of the tallest churches in the world, exceeding in height, but not in capacity, even the one of St. Peter’s in the Vatican. In order to build it, a huge palm grove was cut down, which was, however, president’s property, so that was the end of discussion…

There are 7,000 seats inside the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix!

   We were left with our mouth hanging open! When we stood next to one of the pillars (and there were many of them!) to take a picture, we could barely reach the base of it – not just me, but Elias as well… 😉  Inside there is air-conditioning system for every seat, curtains of cold air in front of every entrance, elevators inside four of the pillars providing direct access to the cupola… crazy stuff!

Told you: I barely reached its base! Everything in this church is gigantic!

   What’s the price for one man’s vanity? How much would people have their everyday life improved, if this money was spent in social benefits like health and education? One of the many spectacular stained glasses, the one depicting Jesus entering Jerusalem, stands as proof of this vanity. The president is really there, among the believers! The only thing that came good out of this is that many people found a job in order to maintain this structure – the gardeners only are 43!

You are thinking New York and Manhattan? Think again, it’s Abidjan!

   We made our second stop in Abidjan, the financial centre of the country, with all public offices gathered there and with its enormous skyscrapers being the trademark of the city. There we were hosted by Ute, who was born a German but has spent the biggest part of her life in her favorite continent, the African one. She has lived in almost every “red zone”: Chad, Sudan, Sierra Leone and so on… What an amazing woman and with so many stories that never make it to the media.

From the houses that lack even running water to the ones with a pool!

   In case you think nomads spend their days in tents and huts, you should see us having breakfast in the garden by the pool! That house has unbelievable facilities compared to the previous countries we visited: running water, hot if you want it, a stove with an oven, air-condition (as the temperature here has begun to climb high…), Wi-Fi and… a laundry machine – yeah! Let alone super markets… we could find goodies that we had never seen before, a real paradise – unfortunately with European prices straight from hell!

In 1893 Grand Bassam became the capital of the French colony.

   That’s where we took our visa for Ghana (they almost took our scalp to issue it!) and (with a blue mood) we bid farewell to the laundry machine… eh, I mean Abidjan… Heading to the border, through the coastal road to Grand Bassam, we would see sandy beaches lined with coconut trees, resorts and beach bars – to tell you the truth, it reminded us of Halkidiki in Greece…! Nevertheless, even there, in the velvet tarmac’s heaven, Elias managed to dig out some godforsaken dirt roads, even with sand in some parts!! Mercy, who will tell me how to deactivate this command from the GPS??

Even in Ivory Coast the mad nomad managed to find some dirt roads!

   We passed by vast plantations of palm trees, bananas and rubber trees. Ivory Coast is the country that produces most of the cocoa worldwide. However, it is a country without much of a genuine African character – except the huge amounts of pineapples, mangos and papayas that we consumed – and despite the luxuries that we enjoyed, it didn’t manage to steal our heart…

Dirt roads have some advantages… It’s the only way to discover cute, picturesque villages!

So, it is Guinea – Ivory Coast 1-0! Do you think Ghana can do better…??

 

Here you can watch the video about our trip in Ivory Coast:

Soundtracks (music of Ivory Coast):
Alpha Blondy – Cocody Rock
Alpha Blondy – Interplanetary Revolution

 

Παρουσιάσεις

Κοζάνη
Σάββατο
30 Νοεμβρίου 2019, 20:00
Όμιλος Δικυκλιστών Κοζάνης
1ο χλμ Κοζάνης - Κρόκου

Kozani

 

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