Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Taï, Côte d'Ivoire to Youkou, Côte d'Ivoire, January 22, 2019

It was a slow and painful day.  It took us hours to do 81 km-

on the worst roads I've ever seen.  We were travelling south from Taï to the entrance to Taï National Park to see some chimpanzees who crack nuts or coconuts open with rocks.  

Along the way-

We made it through again-

And again until we came to -

He was carrying a heavy load of cacao and took the wrong way across.  He'd been stuck a couple of hours and was hoping a big truck was soon coming from the south to pull him out.  What to do?  After some consideration-

We made it through!  Marc had no problems either in his VW van with April riding shotgun, although at one big dip his rear tires were off the ground!  It's quite amazing how that van can go!  

There was more to see than just shitty roads.  We try to stop in a larger town for lunch and a crowd of kids usually gathers.  I don't think many white tourists are seen in these parts, judging by their reactions to us-

Carrying branches probably for a new roof-

Morning glories cover homes-

Cocoa drying in the sun-

Bagged and ready for market-

The forest is beautiful and there's such a variety of flora-

When we got to Niebe, a man who works as a guide at the park made a couple of phone calls for us and because I'm the lucky one who is the interpreter, he told me that visiting the park and chimps was impossible because we did not have authorization.  Even though we only wanted to camp and not stay in their hotel, we couldn't go in.  Unfortunately, their website is so poor that it's impossible to make a reservation in advance and so we were out of luck.  Then, the Papa, as the older men are called - I've been called Mama and even Vielle!  (Which I did not like at all for obvious reasons), suggested to the guide that I go and see a French man for more information.  Luckily, Marc is still with us so I hopped in his van and we followed the guide who was on his motorcycle. The French man works with the chimps for an NGO and yes tours are possible in groups of 4 or 5 only.  Only one group can go in at a time so it would take us 6 days if everyone wanted to go in.  However, there is a 200,000 CFA fee/day and you spend the night so that's times two.  You spend the night and see the chimps the next morning, all for a simple $923!  I was shocked and suggested they improve their website because we would not have spent the last 2 days driving here if we had known this in advance!  So, back to the truck.  After the bad chimp news, we filled with water-

at the local hospital and Terry had his leg cleaned and redressed.  I guess we won't have to amputate after all :)  We ended up on a nice grassy area in a schoolyard and should have a nice quiet night.  Tomorrow, we're heading for the coast.  It's another 115 km on bad roads but they are supposed to be better.  I'm not sure if they can be worse!

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