We arrived in Grand Bassam without a place to stay as none of the hoteliers had been responding to Zoe’s emails (west African customer service). My heart sank slightly as we rolled down the lovely quiet shady street past some very nice guest houses, and continued to the less salubrious end of town.
We waited for a couple of hours while Zoe went to hunt out a hotel willing to let us pitch tents on their lawn. Some people waited in the truck sweating in the afternoon sun, others retired to the dodgy bar next door. The first hotel was willing, but they only had two nasty loos and were in the process of hosting a wedding party….. so Zoe kept walking and talking….
While we waited, the truck banter meandered, as per usual. Today’s topic – one of the younger men on the truck is considering becoming a gigolo (which he pronounces like giggle-o with his accent). He received significant amounts of advice from the women on the truck about the physical changes and personality shifts that would be required for him to be successful. ‘It’s not about the thrust count’ was helpful advice. We considered running a silent auction on the truck to see what type of fees he could earn, but none of us were necessarily keen on executing on the contract.
Eventually Zoe negotiated us rooms and camping at a hotel that appeared mostly derelict from the street side but slightly better beach side, with more than it’s fair share of rubbish. Given the pitch site was tiny and 19 of us would share two bathrooms, Becky and I invested $20 each per night to ‘upgrade’ to a room that was vaguely clean but did have working arctic aircon and a burny hot shower
Grand Bassam is a sleepy beach town, the former capital and is described as having a ‘faded grandeur’…., ‘faded’ is perhaps an understatement. The buildings were definitely grand at some point but now appear abandoned and mostly derelict, albeit lovely in the morning light.
However, almost every building had people living and working in the ruins, including the wonderful Maison des artistes. The art here is vibrantly African. It looks great en situ, but would look terrible at home in the grey london light. We had a relaxing wander around town, chatted to some groovy Rastafarians and even had some young students ask for a photo.
We wandered up the beach to see the fishing boats and the very cool kids body boarding, literally on boards of wood. Sadly the fishing village rely on the sea for their ‘bathroom plumbing’ so there were abundant and smelly piles of human excrement awaiting the morning tides for disposal.
Hot and sticky in the midday heat I retired to the shade next to the pool to read and profit from the sea breeze. I opportunistically took my laundry with me as it dried better than in the room. It was nice to have a lazy afternoon followed by a long walk along the beach.