Burkina Faso - December 2010/January 2011

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Africa » Burkina Faso
December 31st 2010
Published: January 22nd 2011
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The roads were immediately quite a bit better in Burkina Faso. We had been in contact with the truck and they were bush camped about 19km out of the city. We tried to keep an eye out for them but never saw them (later told they were about 1.5km off the main road). We arrived into Bobo-Dioulasso (“Bobo”) and were quite amazed at how much more modern it seems compared to Mali.

We arrived at the bus depot and decided the best choice was to find a hotel room for the night, rather than a camping site, as we were desperate for showers and sleep – all exhausted, particularly Martin and I who had had so little sleep the night before and Martin had had a dreadful day feeling so sick. We negotiated a taxi fare, then all climbed into a taxi and found a different guy in the driver’s seat and a random guy squish half way into Ryan’s front seat and half out the window. Bizarre!!! He was crazy and leant out the window the whole time yelling at people in the streets. We went straight to the best sounding place in the Lonely Planet, Villa Rose, which seemed like the easiest option. The place looked great, but was completely full. The kind Dutch owner phoned numerous places for us but they were either not answering or also completely full. Despair was beginning to set in, so Martin and I went for a walk to a nearby campsite that hadn’t been answering their phones. The security guy said they were all asleep. There was an Auberge next door, so Martin headed in there and surprise of surprises, managed to get us two rooms for the 5 of us, with bathrooms! They weren’t much to speak of, but they were clean, had beds (oops sorry Ryan got a mattress on the floor of our room), showers and friendly staff – they were much desired right then and we jumped at the opportunity. We were all absolutely starving by then, having eaten nothing since a plain baguette at the bus stop at 7am that morning, so we headed off after food. Poor Martin was dead tired though so headed back pretty quickly, while the rest of us ploughed on, a bit tired and disorientated. Kirsten and Bunny both started to wish they’d turned back also. Everywhere was closed up........ did we tell you? It was New Year’s Eve. Yeah, not the best time to be trying to find last minute accommodation in Burkina Faso’s second biggest city and dinner at 11.30pm. We eventually found a hotel, L’Auberge, which said they could still cook us dinner. The others opted for pizza’s that looked pretty good, I was so tired I just wanted chips. So midnight found us sat beside a hotel swimming pool, eating for the first real time that day and watching the city fireworks nearby while a crazy drunk French party offered us real French champagne. Surreal.

Well, it was the end of a holiday within a holiday – time to meet the truck again! The next morning we met the truck at the Railway station in the centre of the town. We had thought we would then have the full day to explore Bobo, but the rest of the guys had already explored the previous afternoon so there was only an hour for Martin to shop for cookgroup and me to get to a bank for more casho. After that we headed to Karfiguela Falls, 11km North West of Banfora, which turned out to be very pretty and really refreshing – the other guys had just bushcamped for 5 nights and were desperate for showers so the waterfall and pools were excellent for a refreshing (and cleansing!) dip. It was a lovely way to spend New Year’s Day! While Martin headed down to cook up a tasty beef stew for dinner, I headed to the Domes de Fabedougou with Ian and Kirsten, apparently like the Bungle Bungles in Aussie. They were quite cool. After wandering around them, we headed back to camp. Best news that evening was that we’d be heading back to Bobo. Andi and Grant had realised there was probably another week of bush camping coming up so we would all appreciate the chance at showers and washing! We were very happy about this, desperately needed some washing done (the result of packing light!) and also we got to see Bobo after all.

We arrived at Casa Africa pretty early the next day which gave us quite a bit of time to explore – yay. First off we managed to change yet more money at the campsite as we’d forgotten to keep money aside for our Benin and Togo visas. Then we managed to visit a few art shops and then get divine sweet yoghurt from a place recommended in the LP that lived up to the good review – Bon Glacier Yogurt Patisserie. Yum!!! After that we managed to visit a few more art shops then pick up two pretty cool masks – wooden art deco warthog and an antelope in the same style. Lunch was awesome – we went to Mande and got Beef steaks with Blue Cheese sauce – oh my god! Simply divine. We wandered around the Grand Marche (Market) for a while and picked up some Kola nuts to give to elders in villages we passed (gosh we tried one in the Dogon Country – soooooooooo incredibly bitter – but the elders love them and they are very expensive for them!!) We met Lee and Mandy on the side of the road, waiting while a local chappie fashioned Mandy some jandals from car tyres! Very impessive and cool to watch – comfortable? Remains to be seen! We passed the afternoon trying to write up Mali blog while it was still fresh in the mind and trying and failing to check email on the painfully slow wifi. Bobo is quite a cool city, a very relaxed atmosphere and friendly people – after the glaring poverty of Mali, Burkina already feels like several steps up the ‘quality of life’ ladder!

The next day we left for a long drive to the capital of Burkina Faso – Ouagadougou (pronounced Waga-doo-goo). Just outside of town we stopped at a crocodile park at Bazoule, where they had some endangered tortoises and tonnes of crocs. We did a guided tour which included 2 chickens in the cost... poor chickens! One was dangled on a string in front of a croc and repeatedly pulled away when the big beastie went for it – however the croc won in the end and crunched Mr Chicky. Chicken number two was ingloriously tossed into the lake and 2 crocs sped towards it in a fast food frenzy – it took about 10 seconds for the crocs to race out and munch the poor flailing bird. Grim, a bit shocking, but entertaining none-the-less Martin reckoned! Most of the chickens appeared to be blind, so we assume they were cast-offs from a local hen battery farm – sux to be a chicken. That night we bush-camped near the outskirts of the city.

The next morning we arrived in Ouagadougou pretty early and dropped off our passports for the Ghanaian visas. The truck was parked in a quiet street near the centre of town so we were free to explore as we pleased. We didn’t get a great feel for ‘Ouaga’, it was fine as a city goes but nothing particularly exciting, so we found an internet cafe which was ok. Then we got tipped off that a local hotel had superfast wifi, so we headed there to catch up with the outside world. The fact that they served ice cold drinks and air-conditioning had nothing to do with it. Maybe. Mike spent most of the day there and managed to get horrendously drunk... amusing-ish. Bunny really, really wanted to do horse riding the following day as apparently it is the best in West Africa. She tried calling them through skype but they were French and their English was extremely limited (Bunny’s French was also extremely limited). She then tried to email them (using Google to translate her email into French – the things you can do these days!) and ring back and try and ask them to check their email but they were out with their horses and couldn’t get to the internet. Eventually managed to arrange a time and cost, but couldn’t figure out the address. We were on email at the time and Emilie back in London tried to call them for us and translate the dialogue but they were no longer answering their phone. That afternoon we finally managed to get hold of them again on the phone and Lee managed to get their location. Woohoo!!! It was super cheap too!!!! 3 hour ride for only 10,000 CFA (approx 15 Euro!) It was a very long process but exciting none the less! We headed back to the same bush camp spot and then poor Bunny got sick – much to her bitter disappointment – her first time getting sick while travelling - EVER!

Unfortunately, Bunny being sick and all, horse riding was out for the next day – she wasn’t very happy about this! She managed to get two other people to go instead though, Brad and Michael, and they really enjoyed it. We headed into town to pick up our visas to find we didn’t have to pay a bribe at all!! (Compared to the 400 euro the consul wanted when we tried to get the visas in Bamako!) Hooray! The day was a quiet one, Bunny was still poorly so she didn’t want to do much, she did manage to go and do the cook-group shop though, which was admirable as she was not in great shape. We went to the Hotel Independence again for a wee bit of blogging and Martin scoured the markets for a present for Marc’s upcoming birthday – eventually finding a cool coffee mug and lighter holder, and somehow buying a slab of beer too... not sure how that happened! That night we returned to our regular bush camp spot and had a fairly quiet night except for entertainment provided by Tim and Brian :-)

The next morning we left early and picked up the people who had stayed in town and then it was off to the border to enter into Ghana, we kind of flew through Burkina Faso and it does seem like a cool place overall... but somehow it just didn’t catch our attention in the same way as Senegal and Mail etc.

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