Thursday 19th February 09 continued

So just to conclude the events of today I need to share with you the experience which put me in a good humour before I got annoyed. I wanted to replace my advert on the side of the car and need to get a document colour printed and then laminated. I found someone who would be able to print the document on a street completely full of shops all offering the same secretarial type services. I get sent up and down the street to where people are saying someone does lamination but cant seem to find it on anyone’s sign and there are too many shops to ask in each. A large lady points me towards somewhere but I can’t make out which shop. She yells out in a voice which would drown out Wagner ‘Fidel!!!!’ A bloke looks up and waves at her. She points and says ‘La bas’ (over there). Not subtle but efficient. Nothing else today

Friday 20th February 09 Ouaga

Off today to pick up my Ghana visa. I decide to walk in and use my handheld GPS for this. Unfortunately the airport is in between here and the Embassy so a 4km walk becomes 8km. There is no problem at the Embassy and I then pop round the corner to the street with all the photocopying places. I get my document printed and get a spare copy. I then head back to Fidel and end up with 2 excellent quality laminates for 1000CFA. Total spend 1400CFA (£2).

The walk back is quicker but I am pretty shattered when I get back as it is very hot. We have a new arrival. Yesterday Manfred turned up in his 6x6 Landrover and today we have a French family in their 130 camper conversion. There is quite a nice mix here along with a German teacher who is famous for his gearbox breaking in his 4x4 Mercedes camper van not just once but twice.

Once again it is a question of sifting through all the well meant advice and opinion.

I try to Skype Stephanie but the hotel apparently has a few issues on power supply and the internet goes down.

I’ll try and work out everyone’s names but once again that seems to have slipped past.

Saturday 21st February 09 Ouaga.

A bit of a domestic day today with a lot of mud and dust to remove from the vehicle. I also try to seal things a bit better and tomorrow I may try and get some rubber to run round the rear door. No real news but lots of fun chats. The French guy used to work in the oil industry and has spent time in Gabon and Angola not to mention Aberdeen!!

Will try the Skype again later. Must get pictures of the other vehicles for you. Last night 4 Swiss vehicles came in looking like they had just come out of the showroom. Not a speck of dust. Surely they haven’t travelled the same roads. I don’t find out as they seem a close knit group as opposed to the rest of us who mix quite freely.

Interesting watching the classroom today for the 2 French kids. They seem to take it quite well with the reward of the swimming pool afterwards. May have another domestic day tomorrow as I now have some of the African clothes soap which is meant to be successful on this type of dust. I hope so.

Sunday 22nd February 09 Guess where?

Yes I’m still here. Making up for all that rushing around as I have a lot to clean to make myself feel a bit more human.

I have made a point of getting to know some names. The German guy is Knut like the Danish King and I realised when he introduced himself in this way that I had already met him briefly in Nouakchott. The French are Marc and Claudina (Clo to her friends) I haven’t asked the kids names yet.

All seem very nice in their own way and I hope Knut wont be offended because it is meant well but often people live up to certain National stereotypes. In one way Knut does this. He is obviously a well read and articulate man but when he gets excited as he reaches a point in explaining something his voice goes up and up in pitch.

I have had an attempt at the washing and this African soap really gets a lot of the dirt out. Just a pity I’ll need several goes to make up for the lack of use before.

I’ll sort out the rest of the luggage today. Showing very white legs as this is the first day I’ve had my shorts on. They fit now so I am definitely getting slimmer. Those who have known me a long time will remember the days when I used to play a lot of tennis and scuba dive. Maybe I’ll get back to that sort of fitness. Driving to gigs eating junk food to keep awake doesn’t help the figure.

Quite a few people appear to be arriving. We have a couple in a big truck with their 2 large dogs and a motorbike arrived while I was shopping. 2 helmets so probably 2 people. The truck driver told me that next weekend is the big Pan Africa Film Festival so I may head to Bobo for the week and try to be back here for at least some of the festival. Even busier now as a second bike has come in. One English couple and one Australian couple. I have a little chat with each. The one couple seems to be finding the bike very difficult to handle when the going gets too rough as it is rather heavy. Anyone who saw the Long Way Down stuff will relate to that as they always had to have several people lift the bike if it went over.

Marc, Knut and I stay up a little this evening talking over the situation in Europe to do with finance, education and what our governments should or shouldn’t be doing. A Frenchman, a German and an Englishman. Theoretically we should disagree on everything. Guess what, almost a total accord.

Monday 23rd February 09 Off to Boromo

I have to go and do something so this morning I am off to see more of Burkina. First on the list is Boromo. I collect some waypoints off Marc and we promise to keep each other informed of any info we hear. I go and say goodbye to Knut and set off. The journey is quite uneventful and I get to the Kaicedera Lodge which is somewhat in the process of being re-built. Basically it has no real facilities but has a very pretty location. The fees seem to vary and I stick to what the others paid and eventually they agree. I decline the use of a guide to see elephants as I want to assess the situation and he is really pricey (10,000CFA). There is a group of schoolchildren having their lessons in the covered section and I take a group picture for the students who are teaching them. I’ll put it up. They leave and 5 Dutch vehicles arrive. Another rally!!!! Amsterdam to Bobo-Dialasso. They all head off with the guide and apparently see 4 elephants. I decide to take my handheld GPS and go and have a wander. I get lucky and see 2 in the distance but don’t know how far to go but content myself with this for now. The Dutch are cooking as a team and soon the area is completely filled with their stuff. I see one of the guys heading across with Royal Dutch beer. Not the best in the world by a long way. I have just found a Heineken in my fridge and suggest he winds the others up by swapping one of his beers (warm) for this one (cold) as I am not fussed on lager. He does this and they cant work out where he has been hiding it. Mischief rules.

Later I get to find out about their rally after the guide takes them on an unsuccessful 30 minute walk and takes lots of their money.

They are all from a fraternity at university in Amsterdam and are raising money for a school that had opened in Bobo the day before to do with engineering and technical stuff. They wrote the details down but I have mislaid my book. I think the rally website was . The fraternity had something to do with MOET. I will seek it out and if I don’t find it one of the guys will hopefully mail it to me.

A pleasant evening and to bed.

Tuesday 24th February 09 Boromo to Tengrela

I get up quite early and pack away. Only one shower and toilet and about 5 girls present. By the time I get a chance the water is literally all gone. One of the guys doing the catering for the site is washing pots and gets my attention. He points to the elephants in the distance. I get my camera and GPS and head out there. I think I get some good shots. I then move to a better angle and take some more. By this stage the others have seen the activity and a few head out to join me much to the consternation of the guide who has finally rolled up and he comes out and tries to make out he is to thank for this. We head back. After a while the elephants head a bit closer and I take some more shots but am disappointed to find that my 400mm lens and my 1.4x converter don’t work and communicate with the digital body. Very annoying as the 400mm is perfect at this range. 300mm it is then.

After this delightfull experience I pay and leave. The guide wants money but I am not having it as he stung the others for a lot and I paid an entrance fee in addition to camping so I could see elephants which I did without his help. I also point out that the previous evening I lent them a spanner to get their pump working (which they didn’t turn on for water to wash). I leave and head for Tengrela. This is a lake South of Bobo where there are Hippos. The journey is hot and I arrive quite tired but early at around 1pm. I fail to successfully communicate and expect a pirogue ride at 7pm which I think is a bit late for the light. No joy. It doesn’t happen. Around 4-5pm a bunch of kids turn up and they start playing the drums. They are pretty good. I listen and wait. I wait and listen. The sun goes down. It is dark. Suddenly the drums stop. I look and everyone has vanished. I turn on my light and work out why. The air is full of bugs. I turn the light off and manage to get into the tent without bringing the bugs in. Early night as I ate earlier.

Wednesday 25th February 09 Tengrela to Cascades and on

I get up early and end up getting a 7am pirogue ride. The sun is coming up and it is beautiful. The guy who runs the little spot is reluctant as he is perhaps a bit tired. Just as we are about to push off he spots someone and calls him over. It is his little brother and he makes him do all the work.

The hippos are lazy but special. You can see what a problem they would be if they didn’t like you.

A very worthwhile trip.

I head out to the Dome (a small falaise) and the cascades which are not really in full flow. Both very pretty but with cheeky car parking fees which aren’t advertised until you get past the admission.

I am still early so head off to Bobo but don’t really feel in the mood for an accommodation hunt so set off with the intention of finding a halfway point on the way back to Ouagadougou. On the way I take a picture or two of a truck which lost the edge of the road. No casualties but a tricky recovery in prospect. Surprisingly I don’t really get it right as the sight I wanted to look at on the way back appeared to be no longer there and I end up all the way back here where the French are still in residence as are the British bikers. We also have the French truck driven by Oliver and Olivia. For anyone who is interested the Aussie bike is up for sale at around €6200. It’s a 2002 BMW with about 12k miles on the clock. Don’t know if he has a website but check the HUBB.

Opening the back of the vehicle it looks like my attempt at sealing the back door has worked to a point and I don’t have to fight through a mountain of dirt.

The French are cooking for all and I contribute a few ingredients to a sauce and we all have a good evening if it is a little late.

I’ll leave it here and give you a second Burkina update when I have it.