[ Adzopé, Côte d’Ivoire ]
To the wonderment of none, I did not manage to depart Yopougon on Monday as planned. Completing all those overdue posts (for my blog and Facebook) kept me up until about 5:30am, about the same time the season’s first big thunderstorm was hitting its stride. It isn’t the best idea to retake the road on zero sleep in rainy conditions, so I lingered another day (allowing me to play catch-up on Instagram, so there’s that).
On Tuesday morning, my exodus began with an emotional farewell from the Koffis, and a nerve-wracking gauntlet through twelve kilometers of chaotic morning traffic. Having no idea where I was heading for the night, with a body protesting loudly its unceremonious reintroduction to hard labor, I stopped frequently along the route north. The first major stop? Couscous and fried fish (brunch, shared with a crew of workers from a local construction concern).
So far, so good, but soon my former cycling stamina proclaimed its non-existence, and my mental resolve devolved into a simpering whine. I sheltered in a vast palm plantation, laid out my tarp, and took a nap. Pretty awesome spot for a siesta. That was followed, two hours hence, by a second nap which became an hour-long, comic (after the fact) cramping session. Muscles started cramping that I didn’t even know could cramp! (Ever have spasming abs before? I hadn’t.) The comedy came in my attempts to stand up and stretch out the offending musculature, with every attempt causing a different muscle to spasm. I made loud, embarrassing exclamations which, fortunately, no one was there to hear.
Oh, and that nap was taken in the shade of rubber trees, on yet another plantation. If it weren’t for the cramps, it was another perfect spot.
Unfortunately I still had nineteen kilometers left to reach the next village, Yakasseme, riding with muscles constantly on the verge of spasm. Not fun. AND I was bonking utterly; I stupidly hadn’t been eating, so my body had no fuel and no reserves.
Anyway, the story has a happy ending: I limped into Yakasseme, stopped for a cold beer, realized beer was a bad idea so gave most of mine to two locals. Grateful, one took me to the chief’s home. After a few phone calls (chief was in Abidjan) I had permission to camp in the family compound for the night, and new friends to show me around town and get me sorted for food, water, an evening bath, and so on.
Total day’s distance: 59km.
The next morning I washed up, packed, said my goodbyes and was on the road early. After my cramping worries, I set the bar lower for the day—planning to make Adzope, just under 40km north. I had one great stop at N’Guessankoa, involving photographs and palm wine (the best I’ve had to date), and slowly limped the rest of the way to Adzope.
Adzope is a city, so no looking for the chief. Instead I found the local police station and asked to camp there. They weren’t sure what to do with me, shuffling me from person to person until I ended up in the office of the Commander of the National Police for the entire region. He asked me a bit about my journey, then informed me he’d be putting me up in a local hotel instead, and making sure I had a good meal and hot shower.
The Generosity Hits just keep on a-comin’…
Total day’s distance: 38km
When I awoke this morning, I decided to take the day off. Everything hurt. I opted instead to do laundry, photo edits, and sleeeeeeeep. And eat lots of food (fish, fish, and more fish, because fish). That’s it. I judged it sensible to ease back into things, or at least that’s the
rationalization story I’m sticking with.
More exposition in the image captions, as always.