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18 March 2019 / leggypeggy

Not all roads in West Africa are bumpy

Laundry day at the Comoé River

Laundry day at the Comoé River

Ivory Coast ferry

Ferry arrives to collect us

Soon after leaving Comoé National Park in the northeast part of the Ivory Coast, we came upon an unexpected speed bump in the road. Actually not a real speed bump, but a river crossing—by ferry.

It hadn’t shown up on the GPS, but there it was in front of us. And the place was busy.

When we arrived, the ferry was on the other side of the river, and both sides were filled with women doing laundry. They were gathering water from the river and washing in large tubs. Clean clothes were draped over bushes or on the ground to dry. One family was heading home—three on the motorcycle and the finished laundry on her head.

Coming to the river to do laundry, Ivory Coast

Coming to the river to do laundry

Within a few minutes, the ferry was being hand cranked over to pick us up. Once the truck was on board, all the passengers loaded. It took four fellows to lever the ferry on its way. Several others cranked us over to the other side.

No fee was posted but I think Adam and Jason, our drivers and guides, paid about 5000 CWA (or about A$12.50).

P.S. We’re heading west a little later this morning and will spend four days bush camping. I love your comments, but don’t expect me to reply for quite a few days.

In the meantime, feel free to check out my cooking blog. Here’s a recipe for scrambled eggs with onion that we made for breakfast the other day when we were the cook group.

Truck boarding ferry

All aboard

17 March 2019 / leggypeggy

Bead-making an industry in West Africa

Decorating a bead in the Ivory Coast

Olivier starts to decorate a bead

Ten years ago in West Africa, I bought too many bead bracelets and necklaces, so I wasn’t particularly in the market as a shopper when we visited Kapolei in the Ivory Coast.

Bead-making is an industry in this small village. We were lucky enough to be welcomed in to Olivier’s place where he explained the craft (in French) and demonstrated how beads are decorated.

Clay and large clay beads

Beads before decorating and a small piece of clay on the left

Bowls of handmade beads, Ivory Coast

Bowls of large decorated beads

A bead is placed on a long thin stick, which is then balanced and spun on the artist’s foot. The colours are all natural and are applied with the tiniest of chicken feathers.

Olivier’s shop was filled with already-made jewellery sets (bracelet, necklace and earrings) in a vast array of sizes and colours, as well as baskets of loose beads. Of course, we all shopped. Even me.

Bead jewellery for sale in West Africa

Jewellery sets in an array of colours

Painting a bead in the Ivory Coast

Olivier applies yellow to a large bead

16 March 2019 / leggypeggy

You can buy a bra in Africa

Bras for sale in Africa

A bra stall in Boauké, the second largest city in the Ivory Coast

Because of limited internet over the coming weeks, I’m going to stick with posting glimpses of West Africa. My long posts with heaps of pics will come later.

So this brief post is in reply to those who commented on my on last post. Given the bumpy, bouncy ride, I said I should have bought a sports bra. Just so you know, you can buy plenty of bras in Africa. I’m just not game to stop and try them on.

P.S. All undies—for men and women—are sold this way.

Bras for sale in Africa

Bras for sale in Yamoussoukro, the capital of the Ivory Coast

15 March 2019 / leggypeggy

Moseying through West Africa

Village in Ivory Coast

Girls carry water and other goods on their heads

Have you missed me? I’ve certainly missed having an internet connection. My last iffy connection was 10 days ago in Kumasi in central Ghana. We’re currently in Yamoussoukro, the capital of the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire).

Travel has been slow. The dirt roads have been seriously eroded, while tarmac roads have been riddled with potholes and huge broken patches. Makes for a bouncy ride. I really should invest in a sports bra.

Dirt road in the Ivory Coast

This truck avoids traffic ‘calmers’ by driving around them. We did a zigzag through them

The internet has been broken, non-existent or terribly slow.

We’ve passed through major towns, but mostly we’ve seen national parks, villages and countryside. Here’s a taste of some of our fascinating views in the Ivory Coast. Stay tuned for more.

P.S. We’re enjoying it all, except for the incredible heat. Hitting 40°C (104°F) most days.

Village in the Ivory Coast

Wood stacks and grain storage (the round thatched structure in the centre of the pic)

3 March 2019 / leggypeggy

Stuck truck—just part of overlanding

Truck stuck in mud Ghana West Africa

Stuck up to the back axle

It’s been several days since we had internet but there has been plenty to keep us busy. We camped for two days at Brenu Beach on the Cape Coast. We visited two  depressing but enlightening ‘castles’ from which slaves were sent to the Americas. Then more camping at Kakum, a national park in Ghana.

And this being an overland trip, of course we got stuck. On our previous African overland, we spent a lot of time stuck in the sands of the Sahara Desert, but yesterday’s sticky situation was in the mud.

There’s been torrential rain around us—you can tell by the puddles—but we’ve only had sprinklings of rain.

Ghana West Africa

A bit of wood might help with traction

Ghana West Africa

Gathering rocks and gravel to put in front of the tyres

Luckily we weren’t stranded for long. A joint effort including the driver, Jason, some fellow passengers and some helpful locals had us on the way in about 15 minutes.

Now that it’s caked in mud, the truck looks like a real overland vehicle.

P.S. I’ll write about the other stops soon. Just give me some internet. I’ve been trying to post this short item since last night. Too many error messages. On the upside, we had our first hot showers in nine days. We’ve had showers, but only cold.

Ghana West Africa

A taxi skirts around a puddle. We skirted on the other side

26 February 2019 / leggypeggy

Will we become famous in Ghana?

Kitchen, Accra, Ghana

Larry and his assistant (didn’t get her name) at work in the kitchen

One of the most followed pages on my cooking blog is the recipe for fried rice (Ghana). It was part of a Ghanaian feast that we made a few years ago using cookbooks purchased in that country. The main picture on that post has been saved to countless Pinterest accounts, as well as many website promoting Ghanaian food and produce.

Poor John and I are back in Ghana for the start of our next overland adventure. We’re in Accra (the capital) for a couple of days to meet the group and get some visas.

Of course, sightseeing has to be part of the stay. So yesterday three of us grabbed a taxi to Teshie to see the amazing carved coffins that make that suburb famous. Of course, when we got there about 2pm, our stomachs reminded us that we hadn’t eaten lunch.

We stopped at a likely looking hole-in-the-wall, but they had finished serving lunch. The next hole-in the-wall sold only alcohol and the third was a sports bar with loud music and a raucous crowd.

Ingot Hotel, Ghana

Ghana is quite religious and it shows in their signage

But then Dee and I spied the Ingot Hotel and its simple restaurant out the front. We inched our way across the busy road and popped in to see if lunch was an option. Larry, the cook, suggested fried rice, and Dee asked if it could be ‘with egg on top’. Sure thing.

So we settled down with a couple of beers and a pear soft drink. The room next to us was filled with people. It was decorated in red and grey, with small pews and a lectern. At first we thought it was a small church, but it turned out to be the hotel school.

Ghanaian cook

Larry dishes up our lunch

A couple of young women came and asked if they could have their photos taken with us. It became quite a production. All the students and teachers spilled into the hotel courtyard, and countless photographs were taken. We looked pretty scruffy compared to them, but they insisted that they are going to put our group photo on the hotel’s advertising banner.

So if you’re ever on the main street in Teshie, be sure to look our for our picture.

P.S. Another post soon about the coffins. The internet connections have been dreadful and it’s taken me 24 hours to get this posted.

fried rice

Staff, students and tourists

The making of a hotel banner. Poor John looking especially scruffy

23 February 2019 / leggypeggy

Off to explore more of West Africa

Ghana to Sierra Leone

Hope you’ll forgive my intermittent absences over the next eight weeks. Poor John and I are off on another adventure. I’m writing from Singapore on the way to Accra, Ghana.

A map of the basic overland itinerary is above, although Burkino Faso has recently been omitted because of escalating unrest there.

Here’s a link to the initial trip. This is the second time we’ve travelled in West Africa on the back of a truck. In case, you’re wondering, we’ll be camping again. My backpack, including roll mat and sleeping bag, weighs 12 kilos. Poor John’s weighs 14, but he’s carrying the laundry and coffee supplies.

The second leg of the trip—Freetown to Dakar—was full, so we’ll cover some of that distance by taxi and a flight.

No idea how much internet I’ll have, so I apologise in advance for all the posts I won’t have a chance to like or comment on. I’ll try to post as often as possible. Life will be back to ‘normal’ toward the end of April.

The map below gives you an idea of just how huge Africa is compared to the rest of the world. We’ll be travelling along the part overlaid by some of the map of the United States.

Size of Africa compared to the rest of the world

Size of Africa compared to the rest of the world