I have been anxious to get out of Abidjan and see more of Côte d'Ivoire, so a group of us headed to Yamoussoukro. After a 2 hour drive on excellent roads we entered what I imagine an American suburb in West Africa to look like -- wide roads with people too poor to have cars mostly on foot and bicycles.  After an incredible lunch, we made our way to the Basilica which is one of the most impressive engineering feats I have ever seen.

I am not going to say much about Yamoussoukro because the city and its landmarks are an incredible source of pride for many Ivorians, and I wouldn't want to rain on that parade. As an expat in Abidjan, much of my life is disconnected from local realities. The visit to the Basilica left me feeling troubled because I couldn't take in the beauty of the place -- I could only think of the better uses for the money elsewhere. That said, the locals were really, really nice people and the change of pace compared to Abidjan was palpable.

The road leading to the Basilica 

Walking up to the Basilica

The Basilica's dome

Inside the Basilica

The Presidential palace is surrounded by a moat filled with crocodiles

If you live in the presidential palace and you want to stave off a coup, just add some crocodiles to the water surrounding the palace and hope for the best. :-)  

This munchkin was ready for his close-up