Page 3 of Ouaga Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Ghana » Greater Accra » Accra July 28th 2007

Like the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings on one side of the world, causing hurricanes on the other, the single bite of a mosquito in Africa can have dramatic consequences. Malaria is one of the biggest killers of sub-Saharan Africans, and in tropical, rainy season Ghana, the disease is endemic. We know, because Suze caught it a week ago, and is still convalescing in bed after a dramatic six days of fever, hospitalization, treatment, and recovery. But don't worry - she's fine now. Just when you think you are cruising along quite well, avoiding all the potential pitfalls of African travel, the continent has a habit of creeping up on you and reminding you just how tough it can be on human beings. Especially in the wet season, which is hitting the West with a ... read more
Dori mosque
On the truck
275 kms to Ouaga...

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre » Ouagadougou July 22nd 2007

'Le blanc, le blanc!' You hear it everywhere you walk in Banfora, a small town in southern Burkina Faso. Kids smile and scream it at you as you wander past. At first, I thought they had mistaken me for Hollywood spunk and shining star of the comedic acting profession, Matt le Blanc, but no, it simply means 'the white' in French. It jars a bit, being referred to in such terms, but eventually you don't notice it. You get used to standing out a little in West Africa. So we made it to Burkina Faso, a country that has obsessed me since I was a nerdy little kid ingesting the Reader's Digest Atlas of the World when I got home from school. It must be the name. Even its old label of Upper Volta, and the ... read more
On the scooter
Brakina Beer

Africa » Mali » Dogon Country July 8th 2007

Segou-Dogon Country Tom Griffith It doesn't rain much in Mali, but when it does, it pours. In the past week, we have seen three big storms, several dramatic duststorms, and, sadly, our first floods - and flood victims. But more on that later... The rains first hit last Sunday, while we were on our way from Segou to Djenne, and the downpour caught us in the middle of a transport change in the middle of nowhere. We were forced to cower benath a tarp inside a wooden shack, neither of which provided much protection. Once the rain had died down a little, we attempted to cover the last 30km of our journey to Djenne. It took four hours. The car was an ancient Peugeot ute that looked like something out of a 1950s American movie. ... read more
Djenne Mosque
Mosque 'n' cloth

Africa » Mali » Centre » Ségou June 25th 2007

Tamba-Segou Tom Griffith According to the United Nations, Mali is the third poorest country in the world. Now, I'm not sure how they come up with these rankings (it tells you here), but as someone from the third richest country, it sure feels poor to me. So how do Malians manage to be so open and friendly? I don't know. And why did the guy in the shop I just popped into, offer me some of his lunch? Again, I don't know. But Malians do have a reputation for being nice folks, and so far I haven't been disappointed - apart, perhaps, from the super-pushy touts and hassle-mongers of Segou. But more on them later. Mali's poverty stems from a variety of complex causes, but basically it comes down to two: colonialism and the envi ... read more
Bamako mural
Niger pirogue
Bamako street

Africa » Senegal » Tambacounda Region June 23rd 2007

Cape Verde-Dakar-Petite Cote_Sine Saloum Delta-Tambacounda Tom Griffith Senegalese bus journeys are stressful enough, without a mad, drunk, Sierra Leonean musician shouting abuse at you, as you struggle to squeeze into a tiny seat, clutching your oversized backpack. We had somehow picked up this mad guy, who was drinking beer for breakfast, at our hotel, and when he saw my guitar he decided he was going to teach me how to play No Woman No Cry 'the way Bob played it', and follow us to wherever we were going that day, even though our destination happened to be 50 kilometres down the coast away from where he was staying. Luckily for us, he was on crutches, so we managed to shake him off on the way from the hotel, but hecaught up with us at the ... read more
Baobabs and graves
Chez Baby

Africa » Cape Verde » São Vicente June 13th 2007

St Louis-Dakar-Cape Verde Tom Griffithurl='/Videos/3729.html' onclick='dialog("/Videos/3729.html?popped=1","tbvideo",600,600);return false;' Festa! Cape Verde, like most isolated micronations, is a pretty bloody weird place. It is not exactly a tourist mecca, lying out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and coming somewhere slightly above Burkina Faso in the,'Where the hell is that?' stakes. In fact, I'd barely heard of it until we saw it in the West Africa Lonely Planet and thought it might be a nice place to visit, if we ever had the time, the inclination, the money... which we realised we did have, once we met a friendly American couple at the Senegal-Mauritania border who had been to the archipelago, and raved about it. After leaving Saint Louis, we headed down the Senegal coast to Dakar, the chaotic a... read more
Antao over Antao
Caboverdean chicos

Africa » Senegal » Saint-Louis Region » Saint-Louis June 3rd 2007

Nouakchott-St Louis Tom Griffith At all of the border crossings I have made, whether in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, or Asia, I have never once been asked for a bribe. Then I arrived in West Africa, and things changed. Leaving Mauritania via the depressingly awful border town of Rosso, I had our passports snatched from my hand by a policeman, who then wandered around with them for 20 minutes while Suze and I followed him. Eventually, a bigwig in an office signed them, and then they were taken away to be stamped. The policeman returned, handed Suze's back, but then kept mine and asked me to hand over some money. I smiled and pretended I didn't understand him. He then marched me over to his supervisor, who swung open the gate leading back ... read more
Tree bloke
A welcome sight

Africa » Mauritania » Trarza » Nouakchott May 29th 2007

Dakhla-Nouakchott Tom Griffithurl='/Videos/3399.html' onclick='dialog("/Videos/3399.html?popped=1","tbvideo",600,600);return false;' The Sahara You know you have arrived in West Africa when your old van breaks down in the desert wilderness of No Man's Land, and then again five minutes past the customs check, requiring you and five hastily-gathered Mauritanians to get behind and give it a push. Yes, we made it to Mauritania, and it instantly felt so much more African than Morocco. From the ricketty wooden hut that constituted Mauritanian Immigration at the border, to the old Mercedes taxi blaring out Senegalese pop music, the vibe transformed after crossing the arid border zone. Despite being the last remaining haven of the Moors, and the distinctly Arabophile attitudes of the government, the spirit of West Afr... read more
Dakar - 1430km to go...
Chinguetti youths
Le Maure bleu

Africa » Western Sahara » South » Dakhla May 21st 2007

Ess-Agadir-Laayoune-Dakhla Tom Griffith When is a country not a country? According to Morocco, and 25 other countries, and the Arab League, Western Sahara is not a real nation. It is simply the large, sandy, camel-infested, southern provinces of Morocco. According to the Western Saharan government in exile, 45 other countries, and the African Union, Western Sahara is the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, an independent country under Moroccan military control. And, according to the UN, it is a non self-governing territory, whatever that means. Whatever it is, and whoever actually owns it, it is basically just a huge patch of desert, and is one of the most sparsely-populated parts of the world. There are only about 350,000 people in the whole place, and 150,000 of them are Moroccan soldiers. So why would Morocco wan... read more
Almost in Dakhla...
A real Saharan camel
27 hours to go...

Here we are in yet another UNESCO-listed medina, this time in the charming, picturesque, and vowel-laden fishing town of Essaouira. We have kind of backtracked a little, after spending a few days in the Atlas Mountains south of Marrakech, but the thought of good seafood and cool sea breezes was too enticing yesterday afternoon, when we were delivered back into the searing, smoggy heat of Marra. First - the Atlas. Suze and I entertained grandiose dreams of trekking up North Africa's highest mountain, Jebel Toubkal, and so we made our way up to the village of Imlil, at the foot of the great peak. From Marrakech, this meant a very tight squeeze in a grand taxi, which is not as grand as it sounds, it is basically just a 1970s-model Mercedes sedan with six passengers shoved ... read more
Around mosque
Atlas house
Atlas village

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