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Published: October 10th 2014
Yamoussoukro...my first thought arriving in this "village"....was how many school and hospitals could have they built with the money spent in this place...but more on this later...
Yamoussoukro is 230km north of Abidjan. The place is the home village of the first President of Ivory Coast, independent sine 1960, I name Felix Houphouet-Boigny. The Predisent has been the ruler of his young country for 30 years, and has transformed his home village in a pretty interesting place...not sure I can call this place a nice place. Yamoussoukro is also used as the political of Ivory Coast for big national events.
First, there is the highway...as good as many European highways... all the way to Yamoussoukro, putting the "village" to just over 2 hours by road from Abidjan. I took a taxi for the day, and Baboue showed me the sights of his country. Not a crowded highway, so an easy ride...still, with many truck going all the way north to Burkina Faso. Good news for me, Yamoussoukro is not closer from Guinea or Liberia than is Abidjan.
Entering Yamoussoukro is something. You don't see a huge amount of buildings...but the road become
wide...very wide, a huge Boulevard....in the middle of nowhere. We first pass by the President Hotel...huge building, next to the President golf Club...yes, that P word is coming back often. Next the is the Houphouet-Boigny Foundation, another huge building, in the middle of the countryside...empty...The building is used for big conferences by the State.
Next, we made it to the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix. They took 3 years to built it...between 1986 to 1989...using "private" money given by Felix Houphouet-Boigny. Well, the building is pretty amazing...one of the biggest churches in the world. But it's impossible not to feel....couldn't they have spent money in a better way. The guide asked me at the end of the visit what did I think of the place. My answer...couldn't we have built a huge amount of schools and hospitals with this money. The reply was...our President gave us more than enough schools and hospitals...Well, this reply is pretty self-explanatory!
Beside the Basilique, there is not a lot to see in Yamoussoukro...so most people actually do the day trip to Yamoussoukro to visit the church. They charge you 3 euros to visit the place. This is including
a guided tour inside the church. You cannot wander inside on your own, so I was actually pretty happy with the guided tour. Do be warned, the tour seems to be offered only in French.
We toured the ground and than took the lift....lifts are built inside huge columns. Reaching the "terrace" of the Basilique offer you another amazing view of this huge building. You can actually see the full size of Yamoussoukro from here...not a village, but not really a city too! I'm really wondering how they could even cover some of the cost with the few amounts of tourists to the site everyday...go figure!
After this, Baboue, my taxi driver, showed me the Cathedral of Yamoussoukro....this place is way more in place with the size of Yamoussoukro. We also stopped by the "Palace" of Houphouet-Boigny....than a nice pizza for lunch for me...with a view on a small lake and the Basilique behind...and I was ready to get driven back to Abidjan, enjoying a nice nap on the way back to the big city!
This is it...next day it was time for me to fly home...slowly, with stops in Ouagadoudou
in Burkina Faso, than a transfer in Addis and finally back home!
Next trip...coming very soon...for one of "these" few trips...you know, those you call life changing trips...
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