Trip Start Jan 13, 2013
23Trip End Feb 04, 2013
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Where I stayed
Ibis Abidjan Plateau
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Read my review - 3/5 stars
The driver said his name was Sam and I ask him if it was Uncle Sam and he laughed and said it was really short for a long name which he pronounced, but I renounced. I just called him Uncle Sam which he seemed to find amusing.
We put some gas in the car and drove about 25 miles through Abidjan to Grand Bassam. There were lots of colonial era buildings abandoned for the most part and many crumbling. As we stopped at one that seems more impressive than others (the governors’ residence), we noticed a few young men sitting out front. I said I wanted to take a photo and Sam said wait "I need to ask them first, people are bizarre here" he explained. The two young men turned out to be freelance guides who offered us a fascinating tour of the old town.
We finally walked back into the town where the streets were paved and we were shown a series of crumbling buildings: the first hall of justice, the first post office, the first prison, the first custom hall, the first train tracks, the first outdoor theater. To be honest 30 minutes would have been more than sufficient and it’s not really that fascinating, though the site is listed as a World Heritage Site. I’ve seen many crumbling buildings before many of them much older than here, but the site is important in the history of Côte d’Ivoire, and the Tias were very interested.
The guides took me to the old post office building where a famous artist now had his studio. He was a self-important little guy who immediately began lecturing us: “All people are equal, there are no bad or ugly people and if we think they are it’s our problem, we don’t understand them. Man is not created in the image of God and the only reason people think so is because…” I answered for him “it says so in the Bible.” “No, men wrote that in there” he replied. I hadn’t really been interested in visiting his studio in the first place, and I decided I had seen and heard enough. He kept lecturing and I walked out and down the steps. He complained loudly from inside that he hadn’t finished yet. We just continued the visit. One of the guides told me “that’s not good, he blasphemed! I’m a Christian and he blasphemed.”
On a street corner we came to a monument to the first Catholic priests who arrived here in Grand Bassam. There were a few roustabouts sitting on it. When the guide asked them to move so we could take a photo, one replied angrily that he didn’t have to move, no one had a right to make him move, he wasn’t getting any money from their work etc. I didn’t really care to take a photo of it anyway, so I just moved on and the argument trailed off.
Finally we wrapped up the tour back at the Governors’ residence and I paid the young men the equivalent of 10 dollars a goodly sum here for an hour’s tour. They were of course disappointed, and complained that I hadn’t “listened to my heart” they may still have had 100 dollars floating in their minds. I said it was fair, and we thanked them and drove off, soaked in sweat and a little footsore.
I had wanted to find a pizzeria on the beach and we found quite a nice one, owned I was told, by Alpha Blondy. But they didn’t cook pizzas on Monday.
We found another one on the river side of the island, and it was very nice. We ate under the shade of a very large tree, right on the water with a cool breeze drying us off. I explained what a pizza was, neither of the Tias had eaten any. Uncle Sam had and told them they were good. Paul wanted to try, but Mrs. Tia said she’s stick with rice and fish, which she did. Later she tried a piece of her husband’s pizza and said it was good. I wasn’t too hungry, so I sent the half my pizza that I couldn’t eat back with her for dinner.
I settled accounts with the driver and with Paul and took the time to load as much useful information and documentation that I reasonable could on his new driver. Discussed my next possible visit and said encouraged each other to keep doing our work.
Paul left and I now have about 2 hours to repack and take care of last minutes things before I catch the airport shuttle for my Paris flight tonight scheduled to leave at 22:40.