User:Christa Sinz/letters/at the beach

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at the beach

This letter was written on November 22, 1998. It was about my trip to the beach ... 1.5 hours away from where I live in a town called Assini. The town is east of Abidjan (towards Ghana) and it is known for its grand lagoon and for its ocean-side beach. Club Med is also in Assini.

The Beach

It was an overcast morning. Michele Caputo, a big German Shepherd, and I headed out of Abidjan, traveling eastward. The clouds were getting darker and it didn't seem promising - but the roads were empty and it was a pleasure to driver - very unlike my daily driving experiences. Dotting our route were small rustic villages buzzing with activity and occasional lone huts. (At this point, I could go on and on describing the villages and village life - very different from any other place I have lived). About 1 hour into our travels, we turn off the main road at a junction filled with small makeshift wooden tables and stools covered with pineapples, bananas, oranges and mangoes. Women carrying their small children on their backs are selling their harvest to the passing cars. For the next 5 kilometers, small children dot the roadside Š also trying to sell their small collection of pinapples.

A parking area marked 18.5. This small field is right on the lagoon and we park our car. We are greeted by several adolescent boys who carry our bags to a makeshift wooden boat. This boat takes us across the lagoon to a very narrow peninsula. On the other side is the Atlantic ocean. After a short walk, we read a grass hut/shelter. We drop off our bags and food and head to the beach - we made it and the sun is shining!! The rain never came Š or we just out-ran it.

A group of about 12 ex-pats rent some land on the beach and they have built a few make-shift thatched-roof shelters. There is an eating area with a grass roof, 3 small round grass-roofed bare buildings with grass walls (used for sleeping in), and one small grass building with running water and a bucket (used for washing up). This is the weekend "day-trip" get-away for the 12 Lebanese, South African, Italian, USA, Austrian, and German ex-pats.

I have just come as a guest this time; but plan on becoming a member of this paillotte soon. (It is $50 for every 3 months). I really noticed how much I need to get OUT of the city and out into nature!!!!

So, here I sit completely in the shade of a thatched-roof shelter looking out at the waves crashing onto the beach. It is beautiful here - by African standards. It is also very rustic here (just the way I like it). The beach is empty. I do not see anyone on the beach except for Michele, the dog, and me.

Unfortunately, the waters are far too dangerous to go swimming in. You are risking your life, if you go in deeper than your knees. The undertow is so very strong that at least one person drowns on this beach each week. (Even expert swimmers are no match for the power of the waters here). Two weeks ago, someone who belongs to this paillotte was carried out to sea. Four days later, he floated ashore in Ghana Š dead. Last week two mothers of small children drown while their children were watching from the beach. The mothers were wading in up to their hips. I hate that I can't go play in the water. But, I am enjoying the sea breeze and the sound of the waves crashing in.

As I look out at the ocean, the sheer power of it is very obvious! I have never seen such strange patterns to the waves. You can totally tell that there is some crazy current-thing going on out there. The waves come in at all different angles, crashing into each other and retreating in opposite directions. The waves do NOT come in parallel to each other. The ocean looks like it is in a constant state of anger and hostility - like a storm is brewing - even on the most sunny, clear days. The ocean is not tranquil. It seems very chaotic and unpredictable. Absolutely Amazing!!

As I sit here, nothing obstructs my view. The coastline is NOT developed AT ALL. There are no buildings, no docks, no boats, no lighthouses, no electricity, no hotels Š just occasional grass huts. Beautiful!!!

The sun is wicked here. I do everything in my power to stay completely out of the sun's rays.

I hope to one day spend the night here and to watch the sunset and then the sunrise.

A man from the desert just came, trying to sell his wares.

Soon we will take out our picnic lunch and eat ...

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