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Published: November 29th 2005
what used to be Haute Volta
is west of niger
it is a lot greener, they have two rainy seasons, and a lot more developed. they have public trash cans, lots more permanent buildings and bushes in the middle-of-the-road medians.
people, men, are a lot more forward in there walk by "hey how's it going" accosting methods. and two particuler individuals accused the whole group of us of racism after we had been seemingly having a nice conversation, he then threatened handu with a rock, dropping it and laughing and his friend grabbed my wrist and seethed some choice english...but other than them and the vendors in the Bobo market who follow you ruthlessly, insisting that they will find the item you want, the people in Burkina were lovely
we saw the president, Blaise Campoare, drive by, in a black hummer, to an election rally. everyone was decked out with blaise paraphanalia; tshirts hats pagnes flags, him smiling, superimposed on the body of rambo, jumping out of a plane. we scored 8 free tshirts but are not so excited to wear them now considering he's a dictator. he killed his best friend and a couple other people to get into power and scare people. but as Aissa, my nigerien Zarma teacher said this morning, that's what african countries need to get whipped into shape.
he's been in power since 84 i think and was the one who changed the law to allow someone to be president indefinitely. elections were held the last day we were there, and although i didn't here an official account, i'm pretty sure he won.
we saw another candidate in the lovely french bakery with real wheat bread being filmed eating his post voting breakfast. me and farida were wearing our blaise shirts. i turned mine inside out and she opted for her tank top underneath so as not to seem partisan.
we stayed in ouagadougou, the capital, pronounced "wagadoogoo", Bobo and Banfora. we were there for 10 days. we had really nice hotel rooms in Bobo and Banfora, not so much in ouaga, mine smelled like dirtydirty toilet water.
we went to visit some sacred crocodiles on the drive to Bobo. they're the ancestors of a crocodile that led a man back to his village so they don't harm people. they get lured out of the lake by a chicken. on a rope. that's still alive. and then the guy grabs them by the tail and drags them up the sad little beach so we can straddle them(don't touch though!) and smile shakily with raised "why-the-hell-am-i-doing-this" eyebrows. i did not partake in the harassment of the sacred crocodiles and i looked away when the big one with out a tail reluctantly bit off the bedraggled chicken's head.
our other encounter with wildlife was more peaceful...we went hippo watching in a large metal canoe with lots of little holes that we non-chalantly covered with our flip-flops for fear of, not really sinking but wet feet and an order to bail with a small calabash. it was a hot middle of the day and the hippos did not want to show themselves, even at the insistent banging on the bow of one of our two gondaliers. we all got lily pad necklaces, a feeble attempt to thwart the lilies that mocked us and looked like flicking hippo ears in the distance.
there were huge vultures that would just walk, not fly, waddle around the market in ouaga, but that doesn't really count as wildlife, they were oddly domesticated.
we went to a less than sparkling clear water fall that left our swimsuits a slight brown color and lounged in the pools and had a massive picnic lunch of bread, laughing cow cheese, apples, olives, avocados! and cookies
we tromped around "the domes", sedimentarily stacked rock formations, at dusk and watched the nearby sugar cane fields blaze and a line of cattle being led home by a very small boy. sugar cane is burned first to get rid of all the leaves before harvesting.
this is the shocker story of the trip, i would much rather tell this in person, so if you're willing to wait for me, skip ahead...
we went to a traditional village in the rocks above the bustling and modern town of Bobo. when i say traditional i mean no electricity, little huts with thatch roofs and metal doors, a typical "african" village. this one was different cause it was so high up, small and had all these gigantic rocks that served as a fourth wall of a house sometimes. our guide was new and told us the basic history, how useful it had been to be up high during tribal wars, etc. he urged us to ask any questions, really please any questions(in french) just don't ask where the cemetary is. ok. we climbed the hill, bouldered around, took in the view, the very african dry brown scrub view. the first part of the village was occupied by the agricultures, people who work in the fields so their section wasn't deserted, no animals, no children. the forgerons part of the village had a couple people, the beer making woman, a girl going to school and a pack of kids who followed us back down the mountain and fought for our empty water bottles. and we left the sleepy little village and went back to our shingled hotel with the dirty pool and the parakeets that sang incessantly.
big shocker, right?
well later that night it came out as we were discussing the inhumanity of using a live chicken to lure the crocodiles that the reason we couldn't ask about the cemetary was because they eat there dead.
done and done...
our driver abdou and the apprentice, his nephew, abdouli, took us to three of their families house in ouaga on the last day. the most relaxed african visiting we've done, because usually when things start to get awkward and the language/cultural barrier starts kicking in you're trying to think of ways to leave, but abdou was so antsy that we not get to that stage that he just whisked us off pretty much after the salutations. we think he has ADD too, not really he just has a lot of energy and gets distracted. he invited us to a wedding, see other journal for that story
i got to call my family very cheaply from a sweltering little box with no place to sit but the floor, maybe 10 bucks for 30 minutes, so good.
we ate a lot of ice cream
and real italian pizza
and goat cheese and tomato salad
and now it's been awhile since the trip that i don't know what else to say
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