Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Burkina Faso  ,
Thursday, February 22, 2007

I had only heard good things about Burkina-Faso and the town of Bobo-Dioulasso and must say I was glad to be leaving Mali, as you soon feel like a walking ATM machine with everyone trying to make a withdrawal.

After a nocturnal bus ride, we arrived at the Burkina border where the guards were the nicest and most polity people imaginable. After the formalities we continued to Bobo where I spent the next four days doing next to nothing. However one day walking back from the market, who was walking the other way? But my good friend, 'the hairy Swede' Thomas.

After sharing adventure stories we realized we both had similar plans, so joined forces with a polish dude and headed south-west to a little town called Banfora. After two hours we'd walked around town and went in search of food. Here in Burkina like the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa you can almost always find a women standing behind large bowls of rice, couscous, spaghetti with various sauces. About 0.20 euros for a bowl and a happy Buddha feeling for 0.80 euros. Sure, everyday diarrhoea is sure to follow but it's pretty hard to escape this condition here so it's better just to get use to the idea and remembering "When in Rome".

The next day we got ourselves a motorbike and rode a total of six hours. First, two hours along a sandy track to the Sindou peaks. An outcrop of supposingly spectacular rock formations which I thought were a bit ho-hum compared to the hype around them. But thoroughly enjoyed being back on a motorbike. Same day saw us ride three hours to the cascades of Kargiguéle washing off the daily grime in natural pools with a setting sun as a backdrop.

The final day at Banfora, we walked 2 hours under a cruel sun to Lake Tengrélé. On arrival we were waiting for an oar and found a young girl lying under a tree. Suffering from some terrible disease, she was skinny as a stick wrapped paper thin skin. Her face looked 90 years old and her bottom eye lids drooped revealing blood red inflamed skin. I don't think she had long to live. I gave her peanuts which she couldn't possibly chew and left in a small canoe across water lilies towards a family of yawning hippopotamuses. We looked at them and they looked at us looking at them. When the looking was over we walked back 2 hours back to town and had to undergo treatment for heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Our time in Banfora drew to an end and we bus-ed it to the capital of Burkina-Faso with its cool name Ouagadougou. Here the plan was to attend the pan African film festival called Fespaco. Fifteen euros for an all film pass and 9 days of movie watching. Modelled on French cultural export but bundled with African time and technical expertise the experience was a mitigated success.

One film I started watching began in colour turned to black and white before the sound cut out and the subtitles came on in Haitian Creole. To continue watching is only so interesting. Yet apart from a couple of blockbusters being dubbed in French to the disappointment of my Anglophone film watching posse, the majority of films worked ok. That is if you don't consider delays.

I did however see a wide range of films and docos but at the end realised that for an African to finance his film project, they need to obtain grants from Europe or America who seem to pay out only for the African plight theme. As a result poverty, starvation, genocide and war become a sort of African cinematographic propaganda both abroad and within Africa. Hopefully this will change when the African film industry becomes more institutionalised and can benefit from African funding. But I for one felt the current output more then a little depressing.

Ouagadougou was pleasant but limited regarding sight seeing. I spent most of my time with my backpacker gang and Jessica, a very nice documentary producer from New York. The majority of gang members were heading to Ghana, this region's backpacker's Mecca. But the 'Hairy Swede' and I are off to Niamey in Niger where he's to enter Benin and I'm going north east back into the Sahara.
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jeanchristophes on

Re: Dehydration
For Dehydration it seems the best treatment is to take water with re-hydration salts. Have now included them in my first aid kit. Bloody great stuff. Actually I've found from experience that beer or anything with alcohol doesn't help you but you often find yourself even more dehydrated. I wouldn't have thought so, beer been some much liquid and all. But there you go. What happened to me later was because I wasn't being very careful about treating water my body started accumulating a huge amount of bacteria and Cholera resulted. Now when all your intestines don't absorb water you can drink all you want but it's not going to help you much. As a result when it got very hot I started fainting scaring the hell out of the café owner. Still will write about that when I get to the Benin entry.

Had to shave since so I'm almost looking respectable. Thomas for me will always be the king of fluff. Wow Ben and Vickie had a Boy. Hope their marriage too went well.

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