Sunday, April 27, 2008

And the Winner is... :)

This House Believes That the Sedan's ride is superior to that of the SUV, esp in and around Abidjan. Case closed. The Corolla wins the honours :) For true driving pleasure.
On one of many getaways to Assinie plage, skies almost dark grey at 11 a.m and a chill in the air, us loaded with pepperoni chips and Mars minis and off on a 100 km drive - beach or lagoon? With time on our hands, going for some beach fun seems possible. Some chilled beer makes a perfect setting, but the first 10 km or so need to keep an eye out for speed guns. Yeah, don't break the rules, esp if the price could be parting with precious beer :) Otherwise, just soak in the smooth ride... hawkers selling knick knacks, some woodwork and articrafts towards bassam could catch your eye, but after that just coast along... See you at Assinie :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bondoukou, Cote d'Ivoire - II

Hotel Marhaba. Bondoukou. Being adjacent to the sprawling acres of the UN's NE headquarters offers the innocent traveler some initial respite :) Draped in all-white, its 30-something rooms are spread all over the campus, but with regional affiliations to the country's main towns - Abidjan, Yamassoukro and so on. Mornings here can be quite pleasant and often chilly. A cuppa hot coffee with some omlettes and french bread, by the poolside if you may, would be perfect for an early starter. Do catch some of the French Armymen at this time in the restaurant, and get a fill in on the travails of holding fort in these rather desolate parts! And then there are also the Bangladeshi UN peacekeepers guarding their barb wired barracks next door. If you are a late riser, be prepared to be jolted out of bed with some untimely party music, and the frolicking of 12-13 somethings in the pool. (see pic for my own experience). DO NOT forget to pre-order lunch and dinner, as the cuisiner could be absconding for any hungry resident, if not given adequate notice! Do write back of any news of Marc, a helpful chum who did a failrly decent job in the kitchen, and liked to watch any Chelsea game with his patrons. Rooms are, well, nightmarish for the first time and will take some getting used to, especially if you happen to have the honeybee raid on your first night :) Network connectivity is poor, save for that 10 square meter space in the parking, but that little block has its eccentrities too so prepare to get frustrated if you desire long telephone conversations with loved ones. Marhaba. It may not thrill, it can easily disappoint. But, whaetver be the case, any trip this far would land you at its doorstep every single time. Soak it in :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bondoukou, Cote d'Ivoire - I

It is high time that this drive make its presence felt - the road to Bondoukou. 450 km of travel into the interiors made comfortable with some breathtaking views on the Autoroute du Nord. This particular stretch lies between Tanda and Bondoukou, and early morning sightings here are quite something, especially during the harmattan. Low lying mist covers the canopy of dense green savannes, pulled right out of the lands of Rohan of Tolkien folklore. Well, the travesty of the fellowship onward to the Misty Mountains seemed a bit gloomy for my liking, so thought a bit of Zanzan bathed in bright evening sunshine and clear blue skies would make equally interesting reading :) A spotless tarmac offers the impulse to cruise well over 100, but the endless left curving road does deter such misadventures with many blind spots. 100 to 120, and the ride is comfy. Do not miss the fruity smell of freshly grown cashews, do soak it in outside the confines of your air conditioned SUV for a minute or two :) Tanda grows the best of the nuts in this part of West Africa, and much of life here revolves around its fortunes in the months of Feb-June. Villages around are much less populated here, and you would fly by some in the blink of an eye, without any barrages on the way. A stopover in Tanda, with a hearty meal at a maquis near the office of the sous prefect makes a perfect complement to the trip. Enjoy the ride...