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Peter Gostelow

Adventure cycling

Photo Story: Ivory Coast

One of the most refreshing drinks in west Africa is Hibiscus juice, commonly called bissap. Open a cool box containing drinks on the roadside or in a market and there’s a good chance of seeing this crimson-coloured juice inside. Re-cycled plastic bottles usually contain more liquid than the other popular form of packaging: polythene sachets. These come in a variety of sizes and are most easily opened by biting the corner off and carefully squeezing the juice out.

Out on the open road I was always on the look out for one of these cool boxes, which would often be strapped onto the back of a bicycle. It was the rural African equivalent of seeing an ice-cream van, and most bicycles were ridden by young men or boys calling out what drinks were available as they cycled along.

The time of day and distance from the nearest town with electricity usually determined how cold the bissap juice was. Most of the time it was ice-cold or still frozen, having been transferred from a freezer into the cool box earlier that morning.

 This picture was taken a few hundred kilometres west of Abidjan on a relatively quiet and well-paved road. It was hot and very humid, and I was as happy to see the contents of the cool box as the seller looks in this picture. There is also a light brownish coloured juice shown here, which is most likely to have been ginger juice. Less refreshing than bissap, but worth drinking when the heat is on, which it always is in this part of Africa. I miss those drinks. You can read the original blog that this picture came from here

Bisap boy


  1. Looks like a road in any industrialised country…

    • True except for the friendly / smiling street vendor selling cold drinks 🙂

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