Another quick update, more on my whereabouts than anything else. This weekend I’m in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I don’t know if I can reasonably justify travelling to Ouagadougou for the weekend while I’m supposed to be carrying out my household surveys in Ghana, but I do have a couple of good reasons, or so I believe.
First reason is that I have actually completed household surveys at one of the sites and needed to take a break. A weekend-off sounded like a good idea (what an irony here though, as weekends are supposed to be taken off anyway!) when my friends in Tamale said they were driving up to Ouaga for the weekend, and whether I would be interested in “coming along”. I did need some pursuading by my friends, but not that much to be honest. I think I really needed a “breather” from the work in Ghana, and what better option there could be for going away to take a breather than coming to the capital of a Francophone country!?! Good food, nice music, good-looking and well-dressed women, and lots to do if I was up for the night-outs, and so on. Well, I think I can justify this trip, don’t you? Read more…
…isn’t always better as I just found out while travelling from Ouagadougou to Tamale on local transport system. The whole day was a day of disasters waiting to happen and the avoidance of those disasters.
So I decided to take a local transport from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Bolgatanga in Ghana – it wasn’t too far and the Toyota 10-seater van looked in reasonably good condition. The vehicle was supposed to depart at 10 am, and to make sure I got the seat, I decided to arrive at the station a bit early. A bit too early it turned out later as they had trouble filing the “14-spaces” that were created in those 10 seats and they weren’t going to leave until they had all 14 passengers they wanted, and may be more! By the time we left Ouaga, it was nearly 11:30 and I had been at the station for over two hours.
Ouagadougou “taxi” station
The journey started well. Despite taking a lot more weight than it was supposed to (15 passengers, their bags, sacks, and luggage, and a motorbike on the top!), the speed was quite impressive (averaging 72 Km/hr – according to my own calculation using milestones as the markers, for the speedometer was not working – which it seems to me they deliberately disable here in the public transport vehicles!). At this average speed, we would have reached Ghana within two and half hours. I say “would have…” because we didn’t maintain that speed.
I have been reliably lazy lately to even entertain the thought of posting a new entry on my blog. Not that I didn’t write bits and pieces on my diary (in fact, I started writing daily on my appointment diary, and it being a bit too small in size to be a proper journal, I had to resort to using blank pages from the days gone by!) – its just that those bits and pieces don’t always make suitable content for this supposedly formal and polite blog.
So, I just have to let my diary entries about my flirtation with voluptuous Burkina lady or of getting drunk on my third day in Burkina stay as handwritten pieces on my appointment diary. Oops, I just mentioned what I didn’t mean to! Strictly no details here though!
Long straight section of the road on the way to Burkina
Burkina Faso is undoubtedly a fascinating country. I had the good fortune of arriving in this country overland, passing through some beautiful parklands and of witnessing the change in landscape from Northern Ghana over a distance of 360 KMs or so. The only difficulty has been the language – Burkina being a Francophone country and my French almost non existent (its a bit embarrassing to mention here but I just received an email from the language teaching centre at my university informing me that I passed the level 1 French with “merit” – so I better start showing off my “merit” in French level 1!!). Good thing is that I have been trying to communicate in French as much as I can manage – asking for food, key to my room at the hotel etc. – and TV5 has certainly helped me get used to listening French as it seems to be the only reliable 24hr TV channel here (at my hotel). I have particularly started to enjoy children’s programmes and cartoons in French, as they are the easiest to comprehend. I have promised myself and to the colleagues in Burkina that the next time I come back, I’ll speak to them in French! And now having been able to acquire a multiple entry permit for a year, I certainly plan to come back here when I can. Read more…