Girls’ Day Out in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

By Piyushi Dhir

Just a few weeks ago, I spent a terrific girls’ day out, with my French friend, Valerie. We had traveled down from serene San Pedro to the hustle-bustle of big-town Abidjan.

We started our day at Cava, an open market for African arts and crafts. A row of stalls, each filled with colourful artifacts, were lined within the entire compound. Traders watch you like hawks, gauging which of the visitors are potential customers and vying with each other for your attention. They start by disarming you with their friendly greetings and sociable demeanour, wooing you to enter their stall and just have a look.

After that the sport begins. Bargaining is the name of the game. They will quote an obnoxiously high touristy price, and you must begin as low as possible. After rounds of negotiation, you settle on a mutually agreeable price. Between Valerie’s comfort with the French language and my expertise at bargaining, we discovered a great partnership and got ourselves a couple of good deals. We walked away satisfied and armed with a handful of gifts for ourselves and friends, ranging from batik dining table covers to purses in African design, wooden earrings and elegant paintings. Cava would be any shopper’s delight.

African Artifacts

As the sun rose higher in the sky, shimmering down onto us with all its hot glory, we took cover in the air-conditioned large shopping mall, Capsud. Here we headed straight for the recently opened store, Kiabi, which offers clothes, footwear and accessories at great prices. From aisles to trial room, and from there to the payment counter, the jaunt took an hour and left us richer in apparel.

The Hyper Hyatt at Capsud is actually meant for groceries and home-necessities, but its sheer size and variety of paraphernalia call for an hour’s excursion through the aisles. Knick-knack for one’s kitchen, cosmetics, cuisines from around the world, provisions and victuals, fresh produce and meats, bakery items and frozen foods- the array is endless. Coming from the sparsely equipped grocery stores of our humble San Pedro, Hyper Hyatt felt like paradise and so we stocked up generously on our groceries.

All that shopping and proximity to foods is bound to whip up a hearty appetite. It was time for us girls to get ourselves some lunch. I chose Chri’s for us, because of its cheerful décor, interesting menu and speedy service. We were not disappointed. Conversation flitted from one fascinating topic to another over Bombay paninis, Greek salads and chilled beverages.

It is remarkable how similar a girl’s experiences can be, no matter which part of the world she lives in or travels to. Valerie and I found out that day that India, France, Morocco (where she works) or Ivory Coast, may be different in a thousand ways, but women may face similar situations and mindsets in any of these places. In fact, both of us scored Ivory Coast the highest among the countries mentioned, in terms of women’s security, liberty and the respect accorded to them!

After a revitalizing meal and an invigorating conversation, we headed back to the guesthouse where we were residing. Not only had I spent the day exploring Abidjan better and making some useful purchases, but I had also discovered a great friend in Valerie.

A day well spent indeed.

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About the Author

Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.