Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sunday, August 19

We got up around 7 AM, ate breakfast, and then visited three major tourist attractions: the basilica, the presidential palace, and the beautiful lotus-covered lake located right in the middle of the nation’s capital. Yamoussoukra used to be a village of 2,000 right on the shores of the lake. When Houphouët-Boigny became president in 1960, he built a grand city that now numbers 175,000 and has large boulevards lined by electric lights that work!

This is the basilica, the largest church in all Christendom. St. Peter's in Rome used to be. Pope Paul II asked Houphouët-Boigny, the Ivoirian president, to not build this replica as large as the original. Houphouët-Boigny, a good Catholic, obliged by building it 1 meter short. He then put the gold cupola on top to make it higher. The pope inaugurated the church. We were not allowed to enter because we were obviously tourists and tourist hours began at 2 PM.

The lake covers acres of land and about 1/5 of it is lilies with the most beautiful flowers.

A crocodile on the lake outside the presidential palace. It is said that Houphouët-Boigny on more than one occasion had opponents thrown into the lake in order to dispose of them. He preferred the single-party system until shortly before his death in 1993.

At about 1 PM, we started driving toward Daloa. Our reasoning was that there was no point in driving south to Issia only to retrace our steps several times. It took about 2 hours to get to Daloa, where we checked into a very attractive, comfortable small hotel called St. Martin, Pecheur (St. Martin, the Fisherman). The hotel has beautiful rooms, whimsical stairs and balconies, and costs only $30 per night!

After taking showers and moving all the machetes and t-shirts to my room, we set out to Galebre to visit Kavokiva. There, we met Georges, whom I knew, as well as some other staff. We had a little question-and-answer session and I re-expressed my idea of eventually doing a Kavokiva bar. Kavokiva means "let's stay together." It has approximately 6,000 members. I do not know the percentage of cocoa that is actually sold Fair Trade.

I asked Georges if we could go visit Eugénie, which we did. We drove about 8 km into the forest, passing an old teak plantation with its accompanying workers' homes. Georges took off on his motorbike to her land and brought her back. She was very moved that Sweet Earth bags of cocoa have her picture. We gave her some chocolate bars and a t-shirt.

We then continued to Batteguedea, where we had a little gift ceremony and donated 40 machetes and 12 t-shirts, a wind-up flashlight, and 4 chocolate bars.

The fellow with the slingshot demonstrates how rice farmers chase away birds.

Boy of Batteguedea

After 45 minutes, we drove to Broguhe, where we spent more time. The chief of this village is a very likeable fellow with an outgoing personality. His wife has built an impressive little sewing studio, and she wants to electrify it. We toured the town and Kate spent much time with the children. We also met the schoolmaster again and the chief showed me how the water pump is now broken, the pipes having corroded into non-usability.

Donating the machetes to Broguhe. We drank lots of palm wine to increase the feeling of celebration.

Evariste and the chief stand next to the pump that is now useless.

We returned to Daloa after the sun had set and we had dinner at the Moroccan restaurant. This is Chawarma: bits of barbecued meat with vegetables and a yogurt sauce.

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