April 30 – May 3
I had been eagerly awaiting the return to Cote D’Ivoire, a country plagued by even more recent violence than Liberia. When we got there, however, the reality of having to get Dan to the Accra airport in just a few days meant that time was extremely limited. We spent the first night in Yamasoukoro, the capital.
After spending almost three weeks in two of the world’s poorer countries, Cote D’Ivoire was noticeably more developed, especially the purpose-built capital with its wide streets, ubiquitous street lights, and . . . very few people. At a restaurant in Yamasoukoro, I tried agouti, a muskrat. Never has a rodent been prepared so delightfully for my consumption.
The next day we made it Abdijan, a city of 5 million people, the economic capital of the country, the largest city in French-speaking West Africa. We drove through the city – and by traffic-dodging pedestrian merchants peddling an astonishing array of useless bullshit – to stay in Grand Bassam, which had beachside accommodation. Here I got yet another chance for ocean wave-riding within a sizable and violent swell, heretofore one of my most commonly undertaken activities throughout the trip.
A night later, we hit a fun local outdoor restaurant selling grilled chicken; we subsequently tried and failed decisively to find anything going on in the area, happening upon bar after bar with only a few prostitutes and no customers inside. I suppose it was only Tuesday night; in retrospect, we should have tried another neighborhood in a city that big.
We mulled over spending a night in the southern part of the country, on an island in Iles Ehotile National Park, taking a quick look but deciding against it, instead opting for the Ghana border before it closed for the night. And that was Cote D’Ivoire…kind of anti-climactic. CDI, I hardly knew ya.