HIPPOPOTAMES! & other things

Trip Start Jun 19, 2009
Trip End Sep 02, 2009

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Flag of Burkina Faso  , Kadiogo,
Monday, July 6, 2009

I stayed in Bobo for quite a long time... I LOVED it. There were lots of things to see and it was fun to wander round, there were French expats to befriend (but still NO other travellers?!) and men who taught me how to play the djembé (you know, the big bongo drum things) on the street. La blanche's got rythym, I'll have you know. I am not leaving this continent without a full-size djembé, if there is ANY way I can post one home.

And there was my little excursion to see HIPPOS!!! REAL LIFE, WILD HIPPOPOTAMII (?)!!! LES (des?? psssh I still can't do articles...) HIPPOPOTAMES!!! It was great fun! The 65 km on the back of a moped (each way) to get to the lake where they live was a little bit ridiculous, and the sunburn resulting from being out in the sun in the middle of the day is still causing me large amounts of pain, but it was very definitely worth it. I love hippos :) They were mostly in the water but would stick their heads out and watch our little boat go past. I'm not talking just one or two hippos, I mean I saw maybe twenty or so altogether (there are apparently about 100 there...).

Now, I am in Ouagadougou, the capital. It is bizarre... half the city is a building site. Well, not exactly a building site, more empty plots of land that I think have been empty for Quite Some Time, judging by the length of the plants growing in them. They're giving the city centre a makeover, you see. Some of it's quite pretty... but as soon as you go outside of the designated zone, there's mud track streets and tin roof houses again... There are less hassly people here too. Or maybe it's because I've given up replying when people shout to me. I've been practicing my expat impression. It works.

There's also not, I have discovered, anything much to do in Ouaga... There are lots of things AROUND Ouaga, but since I am transportless, that's a little bit of an impossibility. Oh and there seems to be lots of nightlife opportunities... but, on my own?! I think not. So I am moving on at some point soon... where to, I have no idea.

The journey here was mostly uneventful. I breathed in FAR too much dust for it to possibly be healthy, and befriended the man next to me by trading food (always a good trick). He was pointing out things in the little villages as we went through, and enquiring as to whether there were buses and electricity pylons in Scotland! Someone in Bobo asked me if we had cows in Scotland, I'm quite sure they thought I made up my description of a highland cow...

I've still not worked out what I'm doing about the problems with the charity that I'm going to, am having extended e-mail conversations with the current volunteers. I think just going and hoing for the best is probably the way forward.

It occured to me this morning how few people I've seen here who I'd consider 'old'. I mean, I could probably count them on my fingers. According to my French guide book, half the population is under 15, and the average life expectancy of someone in Burkina is around 46. That's more than ten years younger than my dad...
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