A couple of folks on the truck are Unesco obsessives, and as we had a spare day, yesterday we headed off to Ahouakro – a tentative Unesco site between Yamkro and Abidjan to check it out. There was remarkably little info on the internet and none of the locals seemed to know about it, but apparently it is an area of large rocks with the local tribe believe have spirits or genies within them.
We stopped at the village to ask permission from the chief to visit the site. The chief asked for a sacrifice of a bottle of gin and a chicken, and given we only had gin (which no one wanted to forfeit) and no chicken, he agreed to accept 10000 CFA’s instead (about €15).
While Zoe was discussing things with the chief I had a chat to the village girls, the eldest ranging from 10-13 about school and life. They were pretty smart and are still at school and enjoying French lessons. Amusingly they asked me how old I was, and when I told them, one of them rushed off to get me a chair to sit in. Adorable!!!! I was old enough to be their granny and they were clearly worried I would fall over.
Unfortunately the guide was working the fields yesterday, as he didn’t know we were coming. So, we were given permission to camp by the quarry which is filled with water. Most people went for a swim, but the presence of ample amounts of cow shit put me off. I had a chat with some local ladies who told me they don’t swim there because there are genies in the rocks. We also managed to disturb the local rhythms as when the cows came for water they didn’t want to go past the truck so the herder had to take them another 30mins around the corner.
We were on cook group last night, and given the paucity of supplies available when we shopped, we had chickpea and pumpkin tagine with couscous which was very well received. It was a humid humid evening and most of us were sweating in the shade and drenched in our tents.
This morning we had an early breakfast, packed up and headed up to the site after picking up our entourage in the village.
We had three guides, two sacrificers and a couple of hangers on. And yes there was a bottle of gin and a live chicken. Happily the chicken was not killed, she was just released after the ceremony (she was too shocked to go anywhere). Apparently her stillness was a good thing as it indicated all was well. If she had run away immediately we would have had to leave the site. After the libation sacrifice, the gin was shared but just among the men (no women allowed).
Then we were allowed to visit the principal male dolmen which will apparently protect us now as we have made an offering. His female rock is some distance away, so the villagers say that they often see him in spirit form heading off to visit her.
The rocks were lovely, even if I didn’t feel the genies! I doubt they get many visitors here, but if you are in the hood it is worth popping by
Ahouakro, December 6 & 7,