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WALKING INTO CHAOS

ONWARD TO MAN

sunny 35 °C
View Benin, Togo and Cote, Ivory on curlygirl's travel map.

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We continue to enjoy our modern hotel this morning with a hot shower and a great breakfast, even cheese. It is a nice change from bread, jam and an omelet.

Our driver from last night arrived promptly at 9:30 am and took us to a local market. Not just any market but the largest local market in Cote D’ivoire. There are NO tourist here. He explained that in the past it might have been dangerous to come here but now, with the police presence, and an African by our side, we need not worry. We trust him and we descend into the increasing chaos. It is massive and endless. For as far as the eye can see in every direction, there is more. You can buy absolutely anything here. It is difficult to photograph but occasionally we try. The sun is too strong and there are people, carts and produce everywhere. Nothing and no one stand still. People are apprehensive initially, trying to understand why we want pictures but our lovely African tells them we are not French and we want to show the world that the Cote D’Ivoire is changing and it is beautiful. When we take a picture, we generate much interest and are often swarmed by people. We don’t linger. We move on, while people laugh with delight at the images on the backs of our cameras. This morning I feel like a florescent light in a sea of black, orange, green, yellow and blue.

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Our Air Ivoire flight departs from the tiny domestic part of the airport. Our new guide, a photographer and videographer promoting the region, meets us here. In one hour, we are in Man. After a lengthy wait for our bags, we go directly to our first village and first tribal dance of Cote D’Ivoire. This is the Wê (pronounced whey) It does not disappoint. It is referred to as the dance of the youth and it is 6 young girls who dance with one of the older men. Their costumes and make up are incredible. They tell us the girls volunteer for this dance in attempt to preserve the culture. Traditionally, it is a celebration dance but today, it is for us. Still, the whole village comes out. The sun is bright so photography seems impossible but we don’t care because it is fascinating. The girls must not smile, must be in motion always, so if the feet are not moving or they are high in the air, their heads shake like a bobble on a bobble head doll. We shriek and cover our eyes when we see him swing one girl’s head inches from a stack of clay blocks and another, inches from a metal pole. But it is part of the dance. It is beautiful and we love it.

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As we often do, we reflect a little after on the experience. Particularly when we smell alcohol on the male dancer. We understand that we had to offer alcohol to get the dance but didn’t understand until later that it is the alcohol that “inspires him to dance”. I mean, I get the concept, having felt the inspiration from booze myself at times, but I am disappointed. We question the power and inequities. But this is how it is.

Once again, Man is known to be a tourist area and once again, this comes as a shock.
We stay in the best hotel in the area but we think we may have reached a low. While there is hot water, the rooms are dark, dingy and the floors quite dirty. There are plenty of other toubabou (white people), perhaps 20, at the hotel but that is the extent of what convinces us it is a tourist town. At least so far.

Our new guide launching his drone.

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Posted by curlygirl 11:40 Archived in Cote d'Ivoire Tagged man adbijan

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Wow - what a dance. Great photos as always Shelley.

by Agnes Penton

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