We leave Mali and travel through Burkina Faso

Trip Start Jan 11, 2007
Trip End Mar 04, 2007

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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Monday 29th January Niger River to Mopti and Sevare
After arriving back in Mopti, we decide we'll stay in Sevare (12kms away) as Lonely Planet says it is the transport hub, as well as the fact we want to try Mac's Refuge, which reads very well.
In keeping with our new-found policy of taking the easy (but more expensive) way, we get a taxi. Manage to go about 200 metres before it breaks down. Driver hops out and fiddles with the engine, sucking in a mouthful of petrol a couple of times, before it eventually gets going again.
Manage to go about 6kms before car gets slower and slower, before eventually coming to a halt. Gets out and does some banging (Murray reckons it's on the solenoid), quite a few more mouthfuls of petrol, more bangs, all without success. During all this we're getting hotter and hotter - it's about 40 degrees and no shade. Eventually he pushes and clutch starts it. Have trouble finding Mac's Refuge - it's about 4 kms out of town down a side street. When we get there there's an assortment of vehicles that have come overland, including a young English couple in a Citroen 2CV.
Spend a fair while reminiscing with them as we spent 12 months living in one in 1976-77. They're now travelling with two other large 4WD's, which seem to spend a fair bit of time towing them out of sand etc.
Mac himself makes an entrance just before the 7pm dinner. Make the mistake of saying it's good to find great backpacker places, and he is quick to inform us it's not for backpackers - it's a bed and breakfast. Has had ambassadors and travelling bigwigs staying, has an impressive guest book full of NGO and US consular heavies. The communal dinner is a great idea. For 5,000 cfa everyone has as much as they can eat - soup, main course, salad and a great dessert of home-made ice-cream. Mac presides at the head of the table. He's American, but spent a lot of his childhood in Mali as the child of missionaries, but was educated in the US, later returning as a missionary himself. He's now retired, and the hotel provides his retirement income. We suspect the missionary background and need for an income makes for a more conservative personality than is needed to fully exploit the possibilities of the set-up.
Tuesday 30th January Sevare-Djenne-Sevare
We're heading to Djenne today to see the World Heritage-listed town and its famous mosque. Have the famous Mac's big, included breakfast, find that it is impressive in theory, with pancakes, maple and other syrups, French toast, coffee, tea, muesli, good Chinese style sweet yoghurt, but no bread, but in actual fact, would have killed for some fried eggs on toast, with bacon and sausage, but I guess these things are just not available or fashionable.
After breakfast we arranged for a taxi to be called for 500 Cfa, but it needed a few prompts, and eventually turned up at about 9.30. By this time our chances of catching public transport to Djenne were looking pretty slim, so when our driver proposed a taxi there and back (about 240 kms return) for 40,000 cfa, we were amenable, so, after some haggling, settled for his price. At this stage, he had to rearrange his whole day, pick up his wife and take her somewhere, get a full tank of petrol for 16,000 cfa, then finally we set off down the main road.
Quite a long wait at the check point just out of town, with our man in submissive pose, and a large, heavy, uniformed man seated outside the police post giving him a hard time, with lot of finger pointing, raised voice, and obvious contempt. Couldn't work out if it was a shakedown, lack of taxi permit, or tribal difference, but didn't ask, just in case it was a shakedown, with cost to our account.
While we waited, a continuous stream of big, new 4x4's, with "Globetrotter's Club" signs, and car numbers passed unmolested. One had number 51 on it. This was a serious 4x4 invasion. Less trouble at the next police post, and headed on down the highway, at about 60 kph. Passed regularly by more 4x4's at high speed. Takes forever to get to the Djenne cross road (90 kms from Sevare), getting severely petrol fumed on the way from an obvious leak in our car, even with all windows open and the breeze blasting through.
A long run across alluvial flats to the river before Djenne, where there is a defunct bridge, with a 20 metre gap, and one of the outboard powered steel ferries which are widely used in Mali. Are about 3 back from the head of the queue, and have to endure a lot of touting from would-be guides and trinket sellers, with the guiding price typically 10,000 cfa per person for a 3-hour tour. The ferry is still a couple of kms from the island of Djenne proper, and no sign of enough water anywhere to give a reflected view (which Murray was expecting) of the famous mosque. Cross a bridge to the island, through narrow, mud-brick building-lined streets, to park in the main square, across from the mosque. The mosque is pretty flash, but without doubt the town is the filthiest, most rubbish-strewn Unesco/World Heritage site we have ever seen.
Besieged by would-be guides again. Meet Mohammed 5 on a bike, then Mohammed 1 who seems to have some connection with our driver. Negotiate a 1 hour tour for 5000 Cfa, and repel a compensation claim from Mohammed 5 who has missed out. Set off around the Grand Mosque, taking photos at ground level, then climb stairs in a rabbit-warren building to view the mosque from the terrace.
Lots of photos of the Mosque and rooftops, and courtyards, then through the town of narrow mud-bricked streets to look at headman' houses, and Moroccan windows. Upstairs in another labyrinthine building for terrace views and photos, then to see mud-cloth dyeing. Trying to sell us blankets, but colours are wrong for a wall hanging. See a demo of the actual dying process, where the dye is mixed with mud and painted on the cloth. The mud retains the sharp edges on the pattern, rather than allowing the dye to soak into the cloth, and the dye is set by baking in the sun.
Heading for the Koranic school when we find we have left the guide book at the mud cloth place. MP back, but can't find it, but two French girls have moved it, innocently, we hope. This runs us out of tour time, and we have resisted our guide's continuous attempts to take a longer tour, so he takes us to Baba's Restaurant and a coke break to cool down. Pay him off, walk past the mosque to the rubbish pile beside the river, then back to pick up our taxi.
Today has convinced us that it is time to leave Mali. We've found it really interesting, but after 18 days we're starting to feel a bit like we're in the movie "Ground Hog Day". No matter how good they are, after a while interest in another overloaded pinasse, or Sahel-style mosque begins to wane, particularly if they are surrounded by rubbish and defacto toilets, with dust swirling everywhere, and the sun beating down relentlessly.

We are accosted by a youth who wants a lift to the highway. Refer him to our driver, who says OK. He is a dancer on his way to the festival at Segou, pleasant young chap, with a bit of English.
At the ferry, we just make the last place. One of the ferry ramps is up, and crew makes our man use just one narrow ramp. Makes it OK, ending hard behind a couple of horse-drawn carts. Our passenger buys us a couple of beaded crocodile trinkets on the ferry a a thank-you. Watch men running the carts off the ferry, as the horses don't like it, then head back to the crossroads, where there is some discussion as to who pays the 1000 Cfa fare for our guest. We say we will handle it. He thanks us,and gets his photo taken with MP, while our driver is filling the boot with firewood, which DP hopes will not be the final straw. Get a hurried cold drink, then off back to town, still with the strong petrol smell, and a hot wind fairly blasting in through the windows.
Uneventful return trip. Try to get phone reception to book in at Mac's for dinner, and finally do so at the check point where we were given a hard time in the morning. (We bought 5,000 cfa of calls on the phone, and it's still going strong). No trouble at checkpoint this time. Back in town go straight to the internet, after a detour to drop the firewood.
The internet is part of the communications complex, with a big dish behind the building, and about a dozen new computers. Arrange to get picked up in 2 hours, and settle in for a big internet session in the cool.
The internet control system designed to make things simple is actually quite complex if you want to do other than plain email, so had to pester the staff to find extra window, the USB key, and the photos, but managed to upload most of the diary and photos. In one of those arrangements you just can't explain in the 3rd world, we only had 1-1/2 hours of credit showing, so tailored our uploading accordingly, then got a last minute reprieve for the full 2 hours.
Got home just in time for tea, but not in time to retrieve our bags, so, straight in to the evening meal. Some familiar faces from the night before, and one new Australian bloke, Steve, whose face seemed familiar. Tossed up possible meeting places, finally coming up with the Fairy Meadow alpine camp in Northern Pakistan in July 2005. Talk about a small world! Swapped news. He is now setting up business in the UK as a podiatrist, and just having a short break. Talked cricket and politics till late, then set up battery charging, and set alarm for a 6.30 start, after another long day.
Wednesday 31 Jan Sevare - Ouahigouya (Burkina Faso)
Another big Mac's breakfast - stick to what we know is good. Get taxi about 7.45, but have to wait for Steve, the Aussie to settle up. A couple of hundred metres down the road, he remembers he has left something, so has to bail out. Taxi driver bemused, as he was prepared to go back. At the Koro gare routiere, actually just beyond the main one, there is a well-used Mercedes minibus, with some bags on top, but no sign of action. There are 3 German girls, and one man, who have been here since 6am. Have a look at the list - looks like we have a reasonable chance of starting soon, so pay and sign up. Talk to the Germans, checking the list from time to time. Sticks on 7 still needed, for a long while, then gets to 5, then Steve and his new guide turn up, bringing the gap down to 3. MP negotiates to pay for the extra places - 4,000 cfa from us, the remaining 5,000 from the five others. Can't get the front seat, but as we are suddenly a goer, get some privileges, hopefully 4 to a seat instead of 5. The interior of the van is pretty basic - any padding the seats had is long gone, and they are now mostly just a bare board. The seat in the middle of each row is missing a back, which makes for an uncomfortable trip.
Now we are officially a goer, the hangers-back come forward, and we now have too many. Are a bit shat, but get 8,000 cfa of our 9,000 cfa extra payment back. Distribute it, and cop sweet 5 to a seat. Finally get away about 9.45 (which seems to be about normal, no matter how early you arrive), about two hours after we arrived. One of the German girls is extremely big, so MP gets severely compressed hips for a while, but we sort it out, with some leaning forward, some back.
Obligatory fuel stop, then off at reasonable speed and comfort, retracing our previous trip to Bandiagara, to lose a few, gain a few. Our maximum number gets close to 30 for a while, with three or so hanging off the back.
Some local women with a lot to say in the front seat. Give the books we had promised our guide, Ousmane Kamia (so he can practice his English) to Steve's guide, with a note to Bebe, and drop them at Diguibombo, where we started our walk.
From here, even on the minibus, it is a long way to the edge of the escarpment, and then dropping down in a long series of switchbacks to Kani-Kombole. We could see someone with a pack doing the walking track, and it reminded us just how tiring this section of the walk was, particularly in the middle of the day in the heat.
The bus was smelling of hot brakes at the bottom, but they topped up the radiator, and onward, on generally better road to Bankass and finally Koro. Took a fair few photos on the way
- more of the Dogon, plus geographic and architectural changes. A fair bit of market traffic.

The time is getting on, but we look in pretty good shape to make it to Ouahigouya before dark. The Germans have to get all the way to Ouagadougou, so they are a bit anxious, and have a LOT of luggage. They've been paying passengers in a number of cars that have been brought down from Germany for local missionaries. They've had a pretty hard time - lots of driving, with not many stops, and mainly camping and eating noodles and tomato soup. At Koro, the last town before the border with Burkina Faso, we are all touted immediately into a Peugeot taxi by two different touts, with different prices. We settle on 2500 each. plus 2000 for the bags. The Germans are confused by the price, which seems to change arbitrarily, but finally get the same rate as us.
There are 6 of us, plus a local heavy, and a young, well-dressed local couple with a baby. We take photos of the taxi, with enormous load going onto truck in the background.

Try for the front seat, with no luck. MP ends up hunched in the back seat, with the couple and the baby (the back of the seat does not stay up independently, but is held up by the luggage in the boot, with the result it lays back a fair way.
Dianne and the three girls (including the enormous one) in the middle, and the driver and the German guy with the local heavy in the front. A LOT of baggage goes on the top. Taxi is push started to get us underway.
At the Mali exit post, officer has a good look at our passports, but has no problems, and even jokes a bit. DP has bought a farewell pamplemousse drink from a stall, and by the time we drink it, and have a loo stop, one of the German girls (Katya, who's only 23) has taken pity on MP and his age, and has taken his cramped back seat. The customs staff give us a push start, and off into no-man's land.
The road is good gravel, and the ride surprisingly good, although it gets very dusty for a while when a private car passes us. No man's land is 30 km long, very dry, with a couple of Malian hamlets.
Immigration is quick, then have to stop and get the baggage down for inspection, then stop again at a police post. All of these stops involved extracting 10 people(and one child), and either parking on a hill, or push-starting.
Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) has a population of about 12 million, and in 2005 was ranked as the third-poorest country in the world. It's one of the most stable in the region, but doesn't have many tourist attractions ( or tourists). We'll probably just go through it fairly quickly, on our way to Ghana.
Still pretty dry, but some big trees in places. Settlements tend to be extended family compounds, rather than villages like Mali. The mosque architecture is now different too, and mainly cement block and concrete for anything other than domestic dwellings. Lots of round houses, and round granaries with conical roofs.
Nothing impressive about Ouahigouya -some large commercial buildings, less mud brick, crowded streets around the market and bus station, where we terminate.
Touted almost immediately to our choice of accommodation, the Dunia Hotel, by a man operating out of the bus station. Commandeers our own taxi, and comes with us. Go the long way around, possibly to avoid police, past the second choice hotel. Pay him 500 for his trouble, 2000 for the taxi.
The hotel seems deserted, but finally shown to a room on the ground floor, a bit of a dungeon, but cool enough. No mossie net, but told there aren't any.
We are absolutely filthy from all the dust. Do a big wash of everything we were wearing to remove a lot of road grime, which is a lot redder than normal (photo of washing water confirms this).
Up to now the dust has been more a sandy colour. Ouahigouya, population 61,096, is the fourth largest city in Burkina Faso, but you'd never know it from the streets. There are a couple of main, tarred roads, but all the rest are made of reddish dusty dirt.
Out in the late afternoon for a stroll and a look at our part of town.

Buy our choice of 3 types of mosquito spray, and look at the evening food stalls setting up. Walk past the health dept, with a lot of well-dressed office workers leaving for home. Turn back at the tar road at the hospital, having plotted our course for tomorrow's getaway.
Talk at length with a Scottish woman who has made quite a few trips into this area, and talk to a couple of local, young trinket salesmen who are also musicians, then share a table with the Scottish woman, in the garden under a full moon, for an excellent meal of steak, sweet and ordinary potato chips, Aubergines, and green salad, followed by sweet grated carrot in sweet yoghurt. As the guide books say, this IS the best food in town.
Fair night's sleep - differences of opinion on how much fan, and some mosquito action, and battery charging.
Thursday 1 Feb Ouahigouya - Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)
Out before 7. Decline a lift into town, as we need a bit of exercise, but find the 1.5kms a pretty long haul, especially along the dirt road. See a couple of Visa ATM's, which is quite amazing after having none in most of Mali, yet finding them in a small town here. Buy bread on the way, then find the STMB bus station after some enquiries. First bus going is 10 am, decide to take it, ending up with tickets 29 and 30, just about last cards in the pack.
Check our baggage, and sit for a while, eating vegemite bread, then when we are confident of the system, go looking for the internet. As we are asking directions, one of the trinket salesmen from last night comes along, and takes us to the school, which has a cyber cafe. The school is quite large, but has dark classrooms, and a computer room which will become a cyber cafe in "Fevrier". Back to the bus station, but there is still no bus, so we walk to the market next door.
It is a modern arrangement, with mainly concrete block stalls, and paved grounds, apart from the central "women's' market", under trees.
Back at the station, the bus arrives from Ouagadougou, is unloaded, and is then ready for the return journey. There is a rush for seats, but the conductors makes everyone hop off, but a lot of seat markers have been put in. We see our bags go on, and have been told there are two buses, but we have to get on this one now, because our bags are on it. Everyone crowds the door, but we get separated. MP gets one with two tickets, indicating DP behind, but it doesn't work, and he has to give DP her own ticket so she can fight her way on. Luckily MP finds two, adjacent seats near the back, and defends one, while watching anxiously for DP to get on. She is hampered by a woman with a baby, so can't really urge, but makes it. Turns out there only ever was one bus, and about 32 seats.
While MP is defending the seat, gets shouted at by a man in green tribal clothes. Shouting about his mother, Bandiagara, shaking fist. MP explains that there are two of us, and is holding a seat for his wife. The shouting continues after DP sits down, and the conducting staff shout at the man, check his tickets, and tell him to shut up.
We can't work out where we may have caused offence, but it becomes increasing obvious that he is off his head, either drunk or deranged. Shouting, talking, and singing continues for at least an hour, with the odd threat from the conductors.
We stop at the Yako terminal and he shouts again, possibly at the delay, takes drinks from vendors without paying, gives DP one to give back.
Back on the road, the whole thing culminates with him shouting, we think for a loo stop, then walking forward, pulling off a lamp cover and throwing it away.
The staff have had enough, stop the engine, come down and skull drag him to the front. Another man takes his place, and we settle down to a more relaxing trip.
The countryside is typically dry, with the odd irrigated green patch. Rural housing is still in family groups. Granaries take on an interesting round-bottomed basket appearance, with timber supports, and the conical roof.

Ouagadougou, population 1,086,505, the capital of Burkina Faso, is hot, dry and dirty. Construction is more sophisticated than Mali, there are street vendors with rotisserie chickens, and fledgling fast food.
There is a big river/lake with barrages, and crowded back streets around the chaotic bus station. DP meets the two other Europeans on the bus, then we are touted to a taxi, have our baggage checked, then one bag on top, other in boot, 5 passengers in the taxi for a short, 1000 hop to the Pavillon Verte Hotel, which turns out to be only half a dozen blocks.
Pavillon Verte is off a dirty, busy street, with a strip of tar down the centre, a half built service station across the road, and a lot of truck unloading, particularly bananas - a whole container full of them, with no cases, just bananas.
The hotel looks pretty deserted, but does have a large internal courtyard, with, would you believe, a green pavilion, and a bar/restaurant.
We opt for the "Etage" at higher cost, but with the possibility of A/C if we need it. This give us an upper floor, with a view, a lot less like a hole in the ground than most rooms, but, being on the top floor, never really loses the heat it picks up in the day.
Rest and wash, then MP does diary while DP uses the internet in the hotel reception hut in the heat of the day, before heading out to check out as much of the town as we can before dark. Walk down our street, Ave Liberte to Ave Dimdolobsom, which leads into the city. Both avenues very busy, but just narrow strip of tar with red dirt each side and street-front businesses and stalls, and lots of people, and lots of motorbikes, which is different to Mali.
Get to the traffic circle with the hollow metal globe of the world, painted UN blue. This is the town proper, and can see divided roads and high-rise buildings from here.
Take photos of some interesting African architecture, and head back, DP wanting to get a share taxi, MP wary, as it is coming on dark, and we really don't know how to redirect a taxi if we get one going the wrong way. See that the temperature now (at 6.30pm) is 35 degrees. There IS a reason for us complaining about the heat!
Back at the hotel, we have a meal at the restaurant, mixup with ordering, felt a bit sorry, but not our fault. DP discovers the local Guava juice, which is brought in an unlabelled glass bottle, and we overdo it with 3 of them.
In another of the inevitable encounters with fellow travellers, the tourist sitting at the restaurant was the Italian with whom we shared the taxi to the Dogon.
It turns out he had a horror trip, with his guide aggressive and obnoxious, particularly when sacked. There was an incident involving grabbing his camera, possibly a compensation for the sacking, but the guide ended up being taken away by the police.
Had a long talk in fractured French, Italian, English, mainly about the attractions of Italy, and why one would go anywhere else. He is flying out tomorrow.
Hot night in the room, in spite of open, screened louvres, and the fan.
Friday 2 Feb Ouagadougou
Up early to beat the heat, and get a share taxi to the Place des Nation Unies (for 200 cfa each) , where we left off yesterday. Makes an enormous difference that we've cracked the share-taxi system, as it's too hot to walk further than you have to around here. We walked the full length of Ave Kwame N'krumah, the main drag, which has high rise right along it,
but the high rise is less than a block deep on the west side, with a rubble-strewn wilderness of cleared slums, and a grid of tarred roads.
Look around for breakfast, Give "Happy Donald of Hamburger House", supposed first attempt at a fast food chain a miss, and settle for pineapple juice and a pretty ordinary croissant, with a brown spot on it which may have been chocolate, and a mystery meat pastry. Owners were Lebanese, but a long way from Beiruit.
Walked all the way to the airport, then back to venture into the back streets, buying bananas near the mosque, an enormous masonry block edifice, with towers at each corner. Not pretty - again quite different to the lovely ones in Mali.

It is now hot to the max (it was actually 39 degrees, and has been sitting around 40 degrees most days lately) so try a flash internet place, which would only give us an hour, so sought out the more usual internet, entered down an alley, and up back steps to the first floor, which is one-third the price, and just as good. Take two machines. Connection is pretty good, so spend a couple of hours uploading and checking email, and sending emails from the exotic sounding Ouagadougou (which was far from exotic).
Take a leg to the West to check out the more commercial part of the town - lots of high loaded minivans
, bustle in the streets, tug-of-wars with luggage between rival taxis. Get a share taxi back, and stop at the boulangerie for fresh, good bread, and back to the room for great bread and bananas.
Later we venture out to find the bus station and tee up ticket on tomorrow's 7.30am bus to Po, which seems to be our bet for getting to the Ghana border, which is another 15 kms away. There's a possibility of taking a 40 km detour to Tiabele to see some traditional houses. Stop for a drink and a feed at the Baratapas, just near the bus station. They have an excellent display of art, particularly welded metal sculpture from old mechanical parts, particularly motorbike sprockets. In particular, a 3 metre high, running dinosaur is impressive (unfortunately we left our camera back in the room). The owner, possibly a Belgian, tells us people come down from Europe and ship lots of this art back in containers. Excellent meal, real avocado and tuna salad - Dianne, who misses her salads, is rapt.
Another hot night. Pay before we go to bed, and pack ready for an early start.
Sat 3 Feb Ouagadougou - Tamale (Ghana)
Down at the bus by 7am. It's a quick walk as it is light enough to take the shortcut that we weren't game to take last night in the dark.
Talk to a French Canadian girl who is going to Paga on the same bus. Takes a while for it to sink in that Paga is right on the border, and this bus goes all the way. Too late to change tickets, but figure we will be able to get at Paga. Sit behind a couple of middle aged US men, who have been allowed to come here without their wives. Our bus looks pretty flash on the outside, with all sorts of promises like air-conditioning, TV etc, but the reality was somewhat less!

It takes quite a while to get out of Ouagadougou. Encounter a lot of divided roads, roundabouts, even a working fountain. South of the town there is a large, enclosed stadium, more like a basketball or tennis stadium, and an enormous concrete structure like the base of the Eiffel tower. Get the definite impression that less money spent on grand edifices, and more spent on paving streets (not to mention putting in the odd footpath) would be more beneficial.
The geography is still hot and dry - lots of family compounds,
dry deciduous trees, a high rocky plateau closer to Ghana. Landscape gets worse as we head south - truly god-forsaken country. Having traversed the country, we can see why it is so poor - has major rivers, as in the Red, White and Black Voltas, but only the upper sections of them, it is landlocked, has no developed mineral resources, and has some fairly big spenders in the capital. Still, looks on the surface to be better organised than Mali, but doesn't have the attractions.

At the stop in Po, MP hustles for the extra Cfa 5000 tickets, and we get besieged by money changers. No idea what the rate is, but get 205,000 cedi for our 14,000 Cfa, Suspect we were not just hammered on the rate, but short changed 40,000 cedi, but at least we have enough to get us to a reasonable town in Ghana. DP buys cold drinks with the shrapnel, and we are off to Ghana, 15 km away. At the border we are shepherded through the procedure surprisingly well by the bus company, but eventually get our bags and head for Ghana, walking.
So endeth our visit to Burkina Faso.
No hassles at the border, and walk from the Ghana post.
Proceed as a group, the French Canadian girl, the two Americans, and a Ghanaian. The girl is playing hard-line with the taxi price, as she has been here before, but gets short shift, and we end up with her and the Ghanaian, the foreigners paying 20k each, including the bags and the Ghanain paying 15,000.

A fairly fast, comfortable trip to Bolgatanga, the first major town, where the Americans will stay. We are of two minds, as the hotel reads well, but when we arrive at the bus station, a tro-tro (minibus) is waiting, nearly full. Mainly at MP's insistence, we go through on the burst, having still enough cedis to pay bus and baggage.
We end up wedged in the middle seating area of a Mercedes tro-tro with 5 rows of 5, plus driver and 2 offsiders in the front. There is not enough room to move your legs (or any other part of you) and it is getting into the afternoon, around 40 degrees, and a hot wind is blasting in the windows. There is a speaker right above MP's head, blasting out soccer information. DP comments on what reception a woman's cooking programme would get from the men, and suddenly we are assaulted by an aggressive woman gospel rapper, not so much exhorting as ordering the Lord to bring down the fire of God's righteousness on her enemies, the enemies of her promotion prospects, her business, witches and wizards, all in Jesus' name.
This carried on for the best part of an hour, without comment from the passengers, until we suffered a flat tire, and had to abandon the bus to sit beside the road, under scrawny trees for half an hour until they fixed it. It wasn't all bad, as at least we got to stretch. This three hour trip was definitely the trip from hell. There is some pretty heavy "Christianity" in Ghana. Lots of businesses with references to Jesus in their signs, and buses with signs like "In Jesus we Trust", on them. Also have never seen evidence of so many Aid projects in the one area. Every few hundred yards seems to be a sign for another project.
Arrive in (hot) Tamale mid afternoon. See the Catholic Guest House sign, and the Canadian girl is getting out, so follow suit. Find that they are booked out, so walk back to the main road, and up to the TICCS Guest House,
which had a room for one night only. This tends to define our stay in Tamale, so have a drink in the Jungle Bar, and DP has a brochette, with surprisingly good beef, and we head into town, taking the share taxi for 2200 each to the centre. Have immediate success at the Barclay's Bank with Bopo and the Homeside for 800,000 cedis each. Quite a wad of cash in 20,000's to stash in the moneybelt. It is actually only about $A 240 in total. They are about to change the currency, because of this problem. ATM machines will only take 40 notes, and the highest denomination they have here is 20,000, which is worth just over A$3.
Look around the centre of town, and discover Yogo's, the frozen strawberry yoghurt in a plastic squeeze sachet, 3000 each, and everywhere - God's gift to the hot, thirsty traveller.
Walk for a while on the way back, but too far and coming on dark, so get another share taxi to our turnoff the main road. Another forgettable meal in the Jungle Bar. Talk to an older Canadian couple - he was an Engineer who helped set up the water supply systems here 10 years ago, and is back on holidays to see how it is going, which he promised himself he would do. Seems to be still working.
Bar is starting to fill with locals, and we head for bed. Interested to see the guard for the compound is carrying a shotgun, has several dogs, and leaves the outside lights on all night.
The room has good screens and cross ventilation, so get a pretty good night's sleep.
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Matt on

I'll have you know we hardly ever needed towing out by those 4x4s! (The 2cv still goes)

diannemurray on

That wasn't quite how I remember the conversation, but good to see it is still a goer. I occasionally ride in one belonging to a friend, and it helps me to remember the good and bad of 2CV driving

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