5 December 2022, Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Up at 6am to be able to meet my tour group at 7:30am. Breakfast was granola + muesli + fruit with orange juice and coffee.
Disappointed that last night’s email was not sent. Horrified that it has disappeared. No time to search more. It has to wait till later.
I met tour leaders Michael & Karyn from Melbourne, Australia. The ship docked about 7am, and we were to meet our guide about 8am. Some in our group wanted to go stand in line for leaving the ship, so all ten of us joined the long line already back down a hallway. It was a long wait. The ship was not cleared by local authorities until 8:30am. We made it off the ship and joined the crowd of people on the dock. We did not realize that we had docked at a different place than expected. Nobody from Across Africa Tours was in sight. We heard that they were still trying to get inside the port gate, so all ten of us rode the shuttle to the port gate. Found our van and were onboard at 9am.
Our guide Francis keep looking for the other two vans that we were supposed to travel with. He had our van enter the port gate and drive to the ship, (More room now for vans, since the Holland America buses had left.) looking for the other two vans. Saw one leaving the port. Never did see Kween Karen’s. (Heard that one took off without a guide?) Some of our people were getting unhappy.
It was 9:40am when Francis got a police motorcycle escort for our van, two with sirens and all. Between our late start and the bad traffic, this was our only hope. Traffic parted like water, and everyone stared at us. We drove past countless stalls of merchandise to sell and poor housing. It was a long drive.
“Day Trip Indigenous District of Abidjan, 6 hours, $89. We will pick you up at 8am from the port enroute to Atchan village known for the earliest inhabitants of the Ivory Coast. Upon arrival at this district, you will explore the five villages commonly known as Ebrie. The district consists of nine indigenous clans.. . “Francis passed out big bottles of water.
We arrived at the village, which was a modern-day urban community on the outskirts of Abidjan. The people’s homes were humble, one paved street, the rest uneven dirt. We met the chief in a nice big community building with toilets for us to use. Learned that today was the chief’s birthday. Visited with a few uniformed schoolgirls standing in a gateway. Piled back into the van and drove to their outdoor gathering place under huge trees.
They were ready for us. Women and babies sat in one area. Empty chairs were waiting for us (and the second van’s people) to sit in. A drummer was already making music.
They all stared at us and took photos with their cell phones. We did the same. I noticed that the costumed women were wearing nice bras as outside clothing with their colorful skirts. A white powder was on their black skin here and there. Small bottles of water were given to us.
The village chief and two other leaders welcomed us and explained that not only did the men dance, but women also danced, and (most important) the boys have learned to dance to carry on the tradition. We got to see the boys and women and men dance to several drummers, including a young boy drummer.
The women and watchers cheered on the dancers with whoops, hollers, and shrieks. The mothers especially encouraged their boys. One came out front and hugged hers. A good time was had by all.
We sang Happy Birthday to the village chief. Our tour guide handed envelopes to one of the leaders who proudly read aloud the names of the recipients. Apologies were made for us to leave. No time to stay longer. One couple gave pencils for the children. I waved farewell and blew kisses to our new friends. They waved back and blew kisses.
Our motorcycle escorts led the way back into Abidjan. Another long drive exposing the humble lives here. Saw more miniature goats, a few sheep, and some Brahman cattle. No cats. A couple of dogs.
We arrived at a nice restaurant for lunch. They served platters of couscous, chicken, fish, spicy sauces, and French fries. Akan is the native language here. Everyone speaks French, and some speak English. 46% of Ivory Coast people are Muslim. 35% Christian, some Animist. Abidjan is the second largest port in Africa after Durban. The Ivory Coast grows the most cocoa. And pistachios. Public college is free, but there are few jobs. Some people are very wealthy – and corrupt. Most are poor.
We stopped near a chocolate shop because someone in the other van wanted to buy some.
Someone at the port was calling the tours back, so we returned to the port without stopping at the Handicrafts market. Many disappointed, some angry. We returned to the ship about 2:15pm, well before the 3:30pm all aboard. Hot 88 degrees today.
No dockside shopping here.
I enjoyed resting in my room and hearing from home on my iPhone.
We sailed after 4pm.
After I dressed in orange for dinner to celebrate Holland America’s birthday, I went up to the Sea View Pool area to take photos of the port area.
Oh, the stories at dinner tonight. Everybody’s Across Africa tour had surprises. Big disappointments and a few joys. I feel content with how my worst / best tour turned out.
I was really envious of those who made it to the handicrafts market.
My dinner was the Dutch Pea Soup, Bami Goring (Indonesian specialty), Bossche Bollen (Dutch cream puff), the Zinfandel Rose wine, and decaf coffee.
Saw Diana who was on Kween Karen’s disastrous “Villages” tour. They never did make it to a village, but they did go to the Handicrafts market.
“On World Stage: CH2 Duo is back with even more mesmerizing guitar feats and some of the most loved hits of the music world. They will even play on one guitar in spectacular fashion, creating a full band sound.”
Two dark chocolates, etc. were waiting in my room.
Quote of the Day: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Photo gallery by Barbara
About this Port
Abidjan is the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. As of the 2021 census, Abidjan’s population was 6.3 million] which is 21.5 percent of overall population of the country, making it the sixth most populous city proper in Africa, after Lagos, Cairo, Kinshasa, Dar es Salaam, and Johannesburg. A cultural crossroads of West Africa, Abidjan is characterized by a high level of industrialization and urbanization. It also is one of the most populous French-speaking cities in Africa.
The city expanded quickly after the construction of a new wharf in 1931, followed by its designation as the capital city of the then-French colony in 1933. The completion of the Vridi Canal in 1951 enabled Abidjan to become an important sea port. Abidjan remained the capital of the Ivory Coast after its independence from France in 1960. In 1983, the city of Yamoussoukro was designated as the official political capital of Ivory Coast.