Saturday, August 11, 2012

Post Peace Corps - First leg of West Africa trip

My village held an amazing going away ceremony for me. Probably two hundred people showed up. They bought me a beautiful outfit of the (expensive) traditional pagne to wear plus several other gifts. It was sad to leave; I broke a little during my speech, but overall it feels great to be done. I'm traveling West Africa for the next five weeks. My boyfriend and I are traveling through Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, and Cape Verde. We're currently in Cote d'Ivoire. Ghana was amazing; much more developed than Togo and people speak English, so that's nice. We still have a hard time communicating, though, because it's often more like pigeon English. We stayed in Accra before heading on to Cape Coast, which is beautiful. We tasted local beer and liquor and had some unforgettable seafood. After that, off to Akwida Beach where we stayed at a beach resort. It was cold the whole time, but we got to do some great hiking through a few nearby fishing villages and play soccer with some local kids. At the next stop, Axim, we stayed in an awesome beach resort with hot water and a breathtaking view. Still cold, so we hiked over the rocky shore and drank cocktails on the deck. Paradise. Cote d'Ivoire. WAY more developed than Togo. Four lane highways (almost) pothole-free, skyscrapers, and a clean downtown area in Abidjan. However, the recent violence made Abidjan feel eerie and unwelcoming. All the street lights were busted, there were bars on all the windows, and even the Ivorians acted afraid of being mugged. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I didn't like it. We only stayed one day there before coming to Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire's capital. People here are wonderful, open, and helpful. We feel safe here, and people seem genuinely excited to have tourists! We toured the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix today and it was stunning. It felt weirdly out of place though - this magnificent Catholic basilica in the middle of West Africa. Keep you posted as we continue through...

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