Côte d’Ivoire – from Gbapleu to Silacoro

I slept like a baby in spite of the chainsaw sounding snoring coming from the trucks chief snoring offender until the roosters woke me up at 5.30.   

Kids saying goodbye to the truck in Gbapleu

We left Gbapleu and meandered along the bumpy road to Danane, probably averaging 4km an hour. we hadn’t seen a vehicle for the last 24 hours, just the odd motorbike. Like much of the countryside we have traversed, this is ‘real Africa’, no electricity, no mobile signal, neat mud huts, village wells, and latrine blocks of 4 shared by the whole village (normally with an Aid sign nearby saying something like ‘fin de defecation d’aire libre’ i.e. ‘stop crapping in public’ with a suitable cartoon illustration). All available surfaces are festooned with pristine clean rows of laundry (unfathomable to me how the get the laundry so clean). Small bamboo stalls with tiny piles of the limited merchandise available are kept in business by the brightly attired women swaying effortlessly down the streets under heavy head loads while carrying one baby on their backs and at least one more kid by the hand. Men in out-of-date premier league shirts lounging round on motorbikes and lots of kids, goats and puppies running about. Most of the villages we pass are very friendly, although there is the odd person who shouts and demands some cash or food.  
Kids welcoming us to Silacoro

Truck dynamics continue to evolve, and the morning seating routine is analogous to solving a complex set of simultaneous equations i.e. If a wont sit next to b, and c can’t abide d, and e has horrendous BO, then where should f,g and h sit?……I normally avoid these complications by sticking to sitting with my tentmate who is blissfully quiet on long journeys. However, occasionally the ‘seat reservation’ process does not work seamlessly, e.g. today one of our bags was mysteriously moved even after we had ‘German beach towel’ reserved our seats by placing our day bags on them. To avoid any acrimonious debate I moved across the aisle and had a free seat next to me during boarding. It was a tense few moments as the others boarded the bus ….as there are four people I resolutely will not sit next to – 3 for personal hygiene aka stink reasons (oddly these are also the same three I won’t tent near as they all snore and as two of them have been known to start drinking before lunchtime, the odour and snoring is not surprising) and one because he is clueless and inconsiderate (the aforementioned offender who won’t bury his loo roll and takes photos at borders who has been nicknamed ‘the idiot abroad’ by one of the guys on the truck). Fortunately I was saved from 8 hours of smell or rudeness by one of the other ladies on the bus who sat down next to me. It would seem that everybody rubs somebody else up the wrong way at least once a day, inevitable given the close quarters and long days. Tempers flare and sharp words are exchanged frequently. This continues to be an interesting anthropology experiment in forced group living. Most days I am fine provided I get to go for a run and get enough sleep, and then I find everyone else’s antics amusing.

Kids loving the selfie feature
After Danane we were on the tarmac, which is cause for great excitement as it means natures air conditioning starts working (and there are less bumps). Most days we are in the high 30s with lots of humidity. You sweat lying down in the shade and positively melt standing in the sun. On the truck when we are on slow roads the air is torpid and slow moving and every occasional gust of air is a blessing. On the fast roads I am like a puppy dog with her head hanging out the window enjoying the breeze.

Pounding the sorghum

Three of our number hopped off the truck at Man today to take a bush taxi direct to Yamkro, where we will all be arriving in three days time. Robert’s heat rash has evolved from something mild into a horrendous pussy mess on his foot, and even though he has started on antibiotics, it isn’t a great idea for him to be bush camping for two more nights with no running water. Eva is joining Robert and his wife Vicky as after six weeks on the truck she has decided a time out is required. 14 vs 17 sweaty bodies on the truck will undoubtedly be an improvement.

Rob’s foot

We arrived at the village, and we had tried to call them to arrange some stilt dancing but they hadn’t answered. So while they were pleased to see us, they weren’t able to arrange any dancing until tomorrow morning. 

Kids wanting photos of themselves
 The village is lovely but we were quite the entertainment. The men and kids took up residence on our stools and were entertained by cook group prepping dinner. The kids were delightful and were obsessed with getting their photos taken.  

Pitching tents in the middle of the village

We are camping in the middle of the village among the houses. They apparently don’t have latrines which seems odd for a settlement of this size, so we will be digging holes. Cook group 1 made us soup, salad and French toast for dinner. And we are with a loud and chatty audience who watched us until the last person went to bed. That much scrutiny is fun for the first hour but gets a bit wearisome after five hours. 

An attentive audience watching dinner prep

Silacoro, December 3, 2016

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