Day 59 - Côte d'Ivoire
|Thursday, December 7, 2023: We slept with our curtains open and woke around 4:30 AM to lightning lighting up the skies. Debbie got this great shot and then we went back to bed.
|We were awake again at 6:30 AM for the approach to the pier. There were people at the pilot boat station taking pictures of our ship as we sailed in.
|This tanker was both anchored and moored. Someone aboard has trust issues.
|A boat motored by flying the flags of the United States, Israel, and Côte d'Ivoire.
|As we continued through the harbor, we could see a spooky fog over downtown Abidjan in the distance. Tom fetched pancakes and congee from the Lido and we ate breakfast in our cabin, ...
|... before heading back to the balcony for the last bit of sail in. It was strange to see a tugboat so close to the ship. We found out later that the tidal flow in the port was near the limits of what our thrusters could handle, and the captain had requested tugboats to be available in case we needed assistance. Ultimately, we were able to make it to the berth under our own power. The water here was a combination of aquatic plants and trash, but mostly plants. Mostly.
|Every square inch of clothing that we wore today had been doused in permethrin, including socks and shoes. We weren't taking any chances.
|We had a shore excursion through Holland America today and were in the first group called. We were off the ship by 8:15 AM and walked out to a very neat and tidy container pier.
|It's never good to see an ambulance meeting the ship, but the passenger that they were loading aboard was sitting up and the staff loading him was smiling, so hopefully it wasn't too serious.
|Our guide, Vabelle, talked to us for 10 minutes when he first boarded the bus, and then continued talking for 25 minutes non-stop after we drove away from the ship and before we got to the first security gate in the port.
|What a cute electric bus! We got take a nice long look at it as we sat at the first security gate for 15 minutes.
|After we finally cleared the first security checkpoint, we passed this truck with an image of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara painted on the side. It had the dates 1928 - 1957 at the bottom. Uh, hey, he died in 1967, not 1957. We hoped that the truck owner got a good discount for the typo.
|This cement factory was inside the port. That's right. We were still inside ...
|... the Port Autonome d'Abidjan.
|An hour after we boarded the tour bus and after forty minutes of driving, we were finally out of the port and into the city. That did not bode well for today's tour.
|It was lush and green, which probably explains all of the plant debris in the harbor.
|The city of Abidjan is made up of several islands surrounded by a lagoon. As we drove over a bridge into the area known as Le Plateau, we got an early view of where we would be stopping for lunch (on the far right in this photo).
|As we entered the downtown, we passed the Côte d'Ivoire Tourism building, ...
|... and the Presidential Palace, ...
|... and this beautiful Banque De l'Union Côte d'Ivoire building.
|This stadium, Stade Félix Houphouët Boigny, will be one of the venues for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations where 24 from throughout Africa will compete starting in January 2024. Our guide, Vabelle, assured us several times that Côte d'Ivoire will win the cup.
|We arrived at our first stop, the Cathedral of St. Paul, just after 9:30 AM. This was a surprise stop, since it was only listed as a drive-by photo opportunity on the tour description. Everyone was shown to the restrooms, which were downstairs for the men, and upstairs for the women.
|For the women, this included a walk down a long hallway, ...
|... to a one seater bathroom with no paper. Debbie opted not to take up a space in the line even though she was second. It would be better to sweat it out in the heat today.
|Tom got this photo of a white egret walking the grounds while everyone else was in the line for the restroom.
|After twenty minutes, we decided to do some exploring while we waited. The cathedral was built to resemble an elephant, with the cross at the far end shaped like an elephant's tusks.
|The inside was very large, ...
|... with seating for more than 3,000 people.
|There were stained glass windows all over the church.
|There were portable air conditioners placed all around the seating area. They built a church to hold 3,500 people and they didn't include air conditioning?
|Around 10:00 AM, a tour guide specific to the cathedral arrived and our group gathered around. After listening to him repeat what Vabelle had already told us, we wandered away from the group.
|Vabelle offered to take us and a few other tour participants on a walking tour around the outside of the cathedral.
|There was a sanctuary on the steps at the front just below the cross where several people were praying to the statue of the Virgin Mary.
|From the front of the cathedral, we had a magnificent view of the new Alasane Dramane Ouattara Bridge, or Pont ADO as it was known. It had just opened in August of this year and is named for the current president of Côte d'Ivoire.
|We walked back up the steps toward the cathedral. The stairs were covered with crushed rock in alternating colors and there were religious scenes along the walls.
|This entrance, one of six, looks out toward the suburb of Cocody which we will be seeing later on the tour.
|After an hour at the cathedral, we went to our next stop which was the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d'Ivoire.
|There were lots of different tire sculptures in the garden in front of the museum.
|We split into two groups, with each one going to a different side of the museum.
|While our guide explained the early history of West African civilization, ...
|... we broke away from the group to look at the exhibits.
|This case contained lots of small pieces with very intricate detail.
|There was a very narrow canoe used by pre-colonial people for fishing, ...
|... and interesting statues, including one depicting a woman carrying a man on her head.
|We stood in front of this air conditioning unit for a few minutes to try to cool off, ...
|... before deciding that we needed a break and headed back to the air-conditioned bus to play solitaire on our phones.
|After the hour was over and everyone was back on the bus, we headed across the Pont ADO toward Cocody. Maersk!
|Here's another look at Félix Houphouët Boigny Stadium.
|Burger King! We haven't seen a Burger King since we stopped in Funchal almost two months ago.
|We entered the suburb of Cocody, known for the large number of foreign embassies that have been built here.
|We looked south toward the Félix Houphouët Boigny Bridge (or Le Pont HKB). When you are the first president of a nation, you get a lot of things named after you.
|As we entered the embassy district, we started to see houses built from concrete that had walls around them. This is the official residence of the Ambassador of Morocco.
|The tour took us past the US Embassy, ...
|... which is the largest in Africa. The building would have been ordinary in the US or in Europe, but here, it was gigantic.
|Across the street from the US Embassy was the official residence of the Ambassador from Qatar.
|The Russian Embassy was just across the street from the US Embassy.
|After that, we were heading out of Cocody, ...
|... to the Pont HKB. The portraits were of the first president of Côte d'Ivoire, Félix Houphouët Boigny, and the current president, Alasane Ouattara.
|It was a toll bridge, but we breezed right through.
|We crossed the lagoon, looking at downtown Abidjan in the distance.
|This is Marcory, a less affluent area.
|This shopping mall was still advertising Black Friday deals. Yes, Black Friday in a country that doesn't observe American Thanksgiving.
|We loved the decorations on this Orca Deco home goods store.
|Is it a rule that all Novotels must be beautiful? This one certainly was.
|There was a large outdoor amphitheater across from the Playce Marcory Mall. Check out that traffic.
|How long does it take to get the balance right when you are putting stuff on your head? Do you need help to get it on your head in the first place? Asking for a friend.
|Just after 12:30 PM, we arrived at the restaurant Le Débarcadère, which is where we were going to enjoy a traditional Ivorian lunch.
|We were shown to a beautiful patio location right along the lagoon. There was a buffet set up, and the other tour group was already here.
|The buffet included chicken, rice, plaintains, French fries, fish, bread, salad, and three different sauces on the side.
|Let's take a closer look at that fish and all those fish eyeballs.
|Two different local Ivorian beers were being served, and we got one of each to share. The green bottle was Bière Ivoire, and the brown bottle was Castel Beer. After the lunch, servers brought around skewers of pineapple and watermelon for dessert.
|The patio was lovely, with plenty of shade and even portable fans to generate a breeze.
|We were right along the bank of the lagoon, and could see the buildings of downtown across the water.
|A red-headed rock agama stopped by to say hello, ...
|... and another one, a female, raced about on the paving stones.
|We passed private cabanas on our way to the restroom, ...
|... and beautiful flowering bushes surrounded the entrance.
|Another female rock agama was sunning herself on the stones.
|Two very lifelike statues were just inside the entrance.
|The sculptor paid very close attention to detail.
|Debbie spotted these hanging birds' nests in a nearby tree, ...
|... and took some time to get this awesome photo of what appeared to be a West African black-headed oriole. There were dozens of them in the nearby trees.
|Back on the bus, we broke out the battery-powered fan to cool down, ...
|... as we drove through the streets toward our final stop.
|Such cute blue and pink braids on this little girl strapped to her mother's back.
|Our last stop was at the Centre Artisanal de la Ville d'Abidjan, or just the handicrafts market as it was called on our ship. We were given 30 minutes to shop here, and we elected not to leave the bus. Bustling local markets where you have to barter and haggle are really not our thing.
|We did enjoy watching this stall from the bus, though. It seemed to be a bookie, with what looked like odds for various things posted on the front. It did a steady business for the entire hour that we were there. That's right, an hour. We were given 30 minutes, and all but one person was back on the bus with time to spare. We had to wait an additional 20 minutes for her to show up, and then it took at least another ten minutes to get our bus out of the market.
|As we drove back to the port, it finally started to rain. Why? Because the Bundlings didn't need it to not be raining any more.
|As we drove the long and bumpy road through the port back to our ship, we could see a beautiful rainbow off to the east.
|By the time we got to our ship, the rain had stopped and it was sunny again. That's Bundlings Weather Luck for you.
|LEGO Debbie and Tom were exausted after two days of very long shore excursions and just put on their jammies and went to bed.
|After discussing it for the entire drive back to the ship, we had decided to cancel our shore excursions in our next two ports. We weren't very excited about either one, and after the last two days, we were no longer going to go ashore if we weren't excited about it. Tom stood in line at the Shore Excursion desk in the Crow's Nest with a long line of passengers doing the exact same thing.
|On the way back to our cabin, Tom passed by the starboard Pinnacle Suite with its unmarked service entrance.
|For dinner, we got comfort food in the Lido because we deserved it.
|As we prepared for sail out, we expected to hear the captain's usual announcements about how it had been a great day. We were quite surprised when he talked about how difficult the port authorities had been, changing our berth unexpectedly to this remote one, how the shuttle service was sub-par, and how many surprise inspections they had been subject to throughout the day. He said that when he talked to the home office about it, he got the distinct impression that this was Holland America's last visit to Côte d'Ivoire for the foreseeable future.
|After having been out all day without getting a single mosquito bite, Debbie got bitten when she stepped out on our balcony to take a photo when we were sailing out. We were very, very happy that we had been taking anti-malarial medication since we left the Seychelles.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy