Poorest Country, Coolest Names

Shaking off the night before’s hangovers we got up and packed up, yet again the heat was relentless, you could break a sweat just brushing your teeth it was that hot. We’d thought about sticking around in Bolga for a day or so, but there wasn’t really a lot going on, there were flies everywhere which were just bloody annoying and the heat was so extreme we figured we’d keep moving. Saying our goodbyes to Sean we got a cab and headed to the border with Burkina Faso. We were about to do our fifth border crossing in a matter of weeks although this time it was much more straight forward than the last two… well, sort of!

Sitting in the air conditioned office at the border I was quite happy to stay there, our driver however, was not. He gestured for us to hurry up, not that we could hurry a border official, they like to ask questions, look at you suspiciously and then ask some more questions before seemingly reading every stamp in your passport before letting you go. Eventually we walked back out to the taxi and got over the border and were dropped off on the side of the road by the bush taxi rank. This is where in true border crossing style it all got interesting, we were with a Ghanaian guy who wanted to go to the same place as us, but wanted to pay less, I was simply not having that, but being back in a French speaking country made it difficult to express my disgust at the idea that he should pay considerably less and we should pick up his tab. Eventually they got the idea, I explained to them that the cost of the car should be split three ways and that if he wanted to pay less he should wait for some other idiots to come along as if we were paying that much we’d go on our own. A deal was eventually struck and we set off, much to the Ghanaian’s annoyance he was paying the same as us. I wound the windows down full and sat back as we shot along the best road we’d seen yet, no pot holes just smooth tarmac. Sitting in the back of that car was like putting a fan oven on at 220 and then sticking your head in it, the air wasn’t warm, it was hot!

After a few minor breakdowns, which we’d started to see as standard practice, we arrived at our destination. Ouagadougou, yeah that’s right Ouagadougou pronounced waga-do-gu, or as I liked to say Waaa-Gaaa-Do-Do-Gu (push pineapples, grind coffee). Burkina Faso may be one of the poorest countries in the world but it surely takes the title of having the craziest named cities in the world. Ouaga didn’t look much like a capital city, there weren’t any high rises, there was a lot of open scrub land and a lot of derelict buildings and as we pulled into the taxi rank I was reminded of India as I stepped out onto a dusty floor strewn with litter and god only knows what else. As strange as it seemed to be back in a French speaking country again, I was now finding it a lot easier and we quickly sorted a cab to our guest house. We’d chosen to stay at La Pavilion Vert which turned out to be an absolute find, it had a wonderfully shaded leafy courtyard and a bar that served cold beers.. what more could you ask for? I glanced at a thermometer on the way in and it read 46 degrees…. it was hot, real hot!

We spent the evening eating good French/African food having beers and chatting with all the interesting people there. It was the first time we’d seen any tourists for weeks and we had a great conversation with an elderly Australian couple who had bought a 4×4 campervan and were driving around Africa. These guys were living the high life and I really hope that when I am their age I’ll be doing the very same thing.

We’d been looking at our dates, and we were still heading north and had a long way south to go to be back in Accra for the 30th June, we wanted to spend a week or so chilling out on various beaches, it dawned on us just how far we’d come and how far we still had to go. We looked at the sights section of our Lonely Planet and decided we’d head to Burkina’s second city as there was more of interest there. Tomorrows destination, Bobo-Dioulasso, like I said, coolest city names ever!

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