On Friday December 22, 2006, a day after Chinasa and her family went to the East for Christmas, i traveled to Abidjan Ivory Coast.
I had used my new international passport to purchase a ticket of Ethiopian airline at the Murtala Muhammad international airport Ikeja Lagos where they also said that i needed a card called ”Yellow card”.
[private] We left Lagos mid afternoon and got to Houphouet Boigny international airport Abdijan after an hour and thirty eight minutes.
I had purchased an open flexible ticket which allowed me to change the return date whenever i wanted.
We got to Abdijan and took a bus out of the airport to the middle of the city. I had stopped and alighted from the bus like every other person and took a taxi.[/private]
The cab driver i hired didn’t know a word in English. The only thing he understood was that i wanted a hotel.
He drove me to a five star hotel called Sofitel. As soon as i looked at the hotel, i knew it was very expensive. However i gave the driver $5 and walked into the hotel lobby.
The slim lady at the reception greeted me in French.
”Do you understand English” i asked. She nodded.
”I need a room for the night” I said.
She produced a list containing the prices of their rooms and suits. The cheapest thing i saw on the list was $203. It was obviously expensive and since i didn’t know how long i was going to stay there, i decided not to take it.
”It is very expensive for me” i said as i dragged my bag on the floor and left the lobby.
Luckily for me, i saw a cab driver that spoke English. I asked him to take me to a cheap hotel or Guest house.
He asked how long i was staying in Abdijan and when i told him that i could spend a week or two, he suggest The Ben Residence hotel.
We got to the Ben Residence hotel at the Riviera Bonoumin Route D’attoban. It was a magnificent yellow building that hosted holiday makers.
I paid off the cab driver and dragged my bag to the reception.
”Hi, i need a place to rent for a week” i had said to the man at the reception.
He produced a list of the prices. I looked at it and scrolled down to the cheaper ones.
I got a self contained room at $350 a week. That was more like it.
I paid for a room and took the keys to the first floor where the room was located.
As i slipped the key card on the door, the room opposite me opened. A young blonde girl came out and closed the door.
I looked at her as she closed the door, waved at me and walked down towards the reception.
She was between 20 and 23.
I opened my door and settled down. The time was getting to 5pm, Abdijan time.
I took my bath and changed cloths, then i walked into the city to get my self acquainted.
I bought a simcard, which was registered with my name. I also bought some food and took it back to the hotel. Back in my room, i called Chinasa. She said she was missing me. I called my brother who was not happy that i went to Abdijan. He was concerned about how much money i was spending in Nigeria since i returned.
After the calls, i ate my food and watched the Television. The entire channels was French except CNNi. I switched it off and walked down to the reception.
I got to the bar in front of the Ben Residence and requested for two shots of whisky. The bar was filled with tourists who had come from Europe, the US and Other African Countries.
Then i saw her, the girl who had came out from the room opposite mine.
As i wanted to look at her direction, our eyes met. I smiled and she smiled too, then i walked up to where she was sitting alone.
”I am Austin, a South African” i said. My instinct had told me to deny Nigeria. Every Country in the World feared the Nigerians everywhere.
She said her name was Audrey, a French girl from Strassbourg, a border city with Germany.
She understood English and German which made things so easy for me. We talked in German.
She asked how i knew German and i told her that i lived in Berlin. I told her that i was in Abdijan for vacation. She was also there for Vacation.
After two hours of drinking and chating, we walked back to the Residence hotel together.
”Would you honour my invitation if i asked you to come to my room” I said as soon as we got to our doors.
”Why not, if its fine with you” she smiled and said.
I opened the door and we walked in. We sat down and opened a bottle of Jim Beam scotch i bought at the airport duty free shop.
The French girl can certainly drink.
At about 9pm, she announced that she was leaving. Knowing how the Europeans behave, i got up and held her hand as we walked to the door and opened it. I pecked her on the cheeks and she went into her room.
I closed my door and made more calls to Nigeria, then i slept off.
My original intention was to see the city of Abdijan. I once heard from a friend that Abdijan was very beautiful. I knew it was a French colony which meant that life was less stressful over there compared to English colonies where almost everybody was on his or her toes.
I had decided to visit the City after seeing thousands of Igbos migrating down to the East for Christmas. I had gone to Idumota and changed some Naira into $2000.
The money in my account was going south but there was nothing i could do about it. Money was good and it helped to get things done but i had trained myself to survive even when there was no money.
I had decided to spend the entire Christmas and new year in Abdijan and even drift to the neighbouring Monrovia if i got bored.
I had traveled to Abdijan with five Novels, one from Dan Brown, two from John Grisham and two from Sydney Sheldon.
Despite the whisky i had taken that night, i had opened ‘The Firm’ from Grisham and read until sleep came.
Like many other French Colonies, the Ivorians used CFA. I had gone down the following morning and changed $500. I got over CFA230,000. It was a lot of money in Ivory coast.
When i returned upstairs, i took my bath, changed to a new cloth went out to the corridor.
Then i knocked on Audrey’s Door.
” We live in a wonderful world that is
full of beauty, charm and adventure.
There is no end to the adventures
that we can have if only we seek them
with our eyes open.”