Lucy’s Travel Diary
As I gazed out of the window at the ever-shifting sands, I couldn’t help but marvel at the resilience of the Fennec Fox and the hidden life in the seemingly desolate desert.
As the Blue Train continued its journey, I couldn’t help but wonder about the mysterious reason that had allowed me to book this exceptional ride through Africa. It was as if fate had conspired to take me on this unique voyage. William’s absence still tugged at my heart, but the anticipation of what lay ahead was gradually replacing my loneliness. Additionally, it was nice not having to talk about his new plans on colour coding his socks.
The train rolled on, leaving Algeria behind, and entered the vibrant and lively nation of Ivory Coast, with its cultural richness and diverse landscapes.
Just as I was daydreaming about the upcoming stop in Ivory Coast’s largest city, Abidjan, I heard a familiar voice behind me.
‘Isn’t it amazing to see a cheetah in the wild like this?’
Abeni, the Blue Train conductor had found me again.
Immediately I looked out the window and, in the distance, I spotted something that stirred my excitement: a sleek and powerful cheetah bounding gracefully through the savanna.
‘It’s as if it is trying to catch the train!’
I yelped as the cheetah ran alongside us.
‘And it just about could’,
‘The cheetah is the fastest animal on land, capable of running up to 98km/h. It’s basically the greyhound of the large cats. It has a deep chest, long thin legs and a long tail in common with greyhounds. Did you know that it isn’t that surprising that you get to see a cheetah during the day?’
‘No, I didn’t, why’s that?’
‘Cheetahs are active mainly during the day, as they avoid other large cats like leopards and lions, mainly active at night. They could kill cheetahs or steal their food. The cheetah even has a different language, if you will, in which it chirps, churrs and purrs loudly.’
This made me giggle. A cat that chirps? I’d love to hear that.
Abeni and I watched the cheetah until it disappeared from our view. The anticipation of our stop in Abidjan, the bustling heart of Ivory Coast, grew stronger, and I was eager to explore this vibrant city.
‘Abeni, what can you tell me about Abidjan? Any tips on what I should check out?’
Abeni thought for a second and then replied:
‘Let me see, what you probably already know is that Abidjan is the largest city and also the capital of the Ivory Coast.’
(I had not known that, but since I didn’t want to seem like I knew nothing at all, I simply nodded. Once again, I wished I had not forgotten my Africa for Dummies book…)
‘Always worth a visit is the Banco National Park, where you can explore the rainforest with tropical trees and a variety of local animals of Abidjan. You should also visit the skilled merchants in the business district of Abidjan, it will offer you a unique experience that will bring you closer to the everyday life and culture.
I also have a funny story about the name of the city: According to local lore, the name “Abidjan” results from a misunderstanding. Legend states that an old man carrying branches to repair the roof of his house met a European explorer who asked him the name of the nearest village. The old man did not speak the language of the explorer and thought that he was being asked to justify his presence in that place. Terrified by this unexpected meeting, he fled shouting “min-chan m’bidjan”, which means in the Ébrié language: “I just cut the leaves.” The explorer, thinking that his question had been answered, recorded the name of the locale as Abidjan.’
This made me giggle again.
I couldn’t help but smile at the serendipitous moments and connections that were unfolding on this extraordinary journey. Abeni’s warm introduction to Africa had opened the door to a world of adventure and discovery that I could never have imagined when I first boarded The Blue Train.