Loving A Place That Names Itself Ouagadougou

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November 13th 2009
Published: June 23rd 2017
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Geo: 12.3605, -1.53395

We had closed out the Mali portion of our West African Adventure and now needed to make our way to Burkina Faso and it's wonderfully named capital, Ouagadougou (pronounced just as it looks- O-wa-ga-doo-goo, although the it's widely known as Waga). We changed vehicles three times before hitting the border which was driven by no apparent logic but by this time we have been in West Africa long enough to not even question some of the daily idiosyncrasies you encounter. We had to pick up our Burkina 7 day visa's at the border which turned out to be remarkably painless with the man who appeared to be in charge trying to persuade us to spend more than 1 week in his beautiful country.

We made it to the hotel , The Pavillon Vert, just before dark. As it is part of the backpacker circuit, the menu offered a ‘cheeseburger' option (heaven although it was a somewhat distant cousin to a Nortrh American burger!). We started negotiating transport to some off-the-beaten-track Burkina sights with a couple of brooding characters who had appeared out of the night but deferred until the morning.

We spent the first part of the next day touring Ouaga and got caught up in a police raid (full riot gear) of all the various roadside vendors that were flogging their goods next to the relatively modern central market. How do you make an already chaotic environment even more chaotic- send in the riot place- vendors were quickly wrapping their goods, police were clubbing people and grabbing all of the merchandise left behind, people were spreading the alarm, all the while completely ignoring us. Ouaga turned out to be a somewhat typical West African city with all types of vehicles that had long since dispensed with the services of their mufflers belching out great clouds of coal black exhaust, women carrying all manner of product on their heads while nursing small babies and arguing with each other, roadside that seem to stay upright only because the four walls are leaning into one another, groupings of older men sitting in a shady area presumably working out solutions to the problems of the day (and/or drinking millet beer)

Back at the hotel, we finished our negotiations for transport to Gaoua, although our driver had now expanded to include a chauffer (which is apparently different than a driver) and a guide who spoke some English- these added bodies apparently had no impact on the cost so we loaded up the somewhat tired looking 4x4 and left Ouaga.

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