Wednesday 10 August 2011

Ouagadougou - You Are an Expat City

First stop was to where else, but Burkina Faso’s Peace Corps Medical Officer! No worries, we are fine, but this allowed us to stock up on necessary medical supplies. Warning: Peace Corps plug coming…Having a worldwide Peace Corps network is very handy as staff/PCVs are very willing to assist you in places to stay, equipment, etc. Love being a PCV!

After leaving a note for a fellow Cameroonian PCV who is now serving Peace Corps Response in Burkina (can’t believe we just missed you, Mike!), we headed off to run our errands. We had to go to same places that we were all too familiar with: the bank (thank goodness for plastic!) and Immigration. The Visa d’Entente allows entry into Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, and Niger all for just 25.000CFA. As border crossing visas in third-world countries could be debatable, we wanted to have our visas in advance. Of course, the Immigration Officer stated that if we were lucky, we could have the visas in two days. We’ll take our chances at the border then! And if anybody out there knows where you can acquire this magical Visa d’Entente outside of the five countries it serves, please let me know! They “ran out” in Cameroon!

Ouagadougou (still can’t pronounce the name correctly!) is surprisingly an expat city. Burkina is one of the poorest countries in the world, yet since it is a transport country, the government (this is what the local Burkinabe tell me) upkeeps the roads and the infrastructure is impressive. There are also Western restaurants and hang outs for expats of all worlds. Walking around the center of town, we stopped for hot dogs and ice cream sundaes for lunch. What?

Afterwards, we headed off to the Village Artisanal de Ouaga, a government-run cooperative center that hosts a variety of artisanal crafts. Here one can find everything from baskets to leather goods to dolls to wooden giraffes! Interestingly enough, the overwhelming majority of pieces are fixed, so if you’re not one to haggle, this will be your spot! And if you’re like me and love the fine art of negotiating, don’t worry, you can still bargain hard on the marked prices away!

Needing some time to relax, Liz and I headed back to the Peace Corps “case (transit house)” to pick up laundry, check the internet, shower, and relax. Dinner was spent at a Chinese restaurant and then back into town with some of Burkina’s PCVs. At Salon du The, I ordered a “Grog drink” for my sore throat and we spent the rest of the night dancing away. Good times!

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