Saturday, November 19, 2016

Burkina Faso Village Hospitality

My final full day in Banfora started as did the day before: roosters and coffee. I made a little coffee at the house once i got over my fear of the gas stove, and then returned to the local corner cafe for an espresso. Today all of the men were filling out their racing forms. There are gambling kiosks here everywhere painted with pots of gold and horses head. People (men) bet on horse races in France hoping to win big. They din't get to see the races, not even on tv. It seems to be a popular pastime. I was asked to  assist with picking horses. The only one that jumped out at me was La Baguette Magique.

My guide picked me up on the moto and we headed on a dirt road through fields of sugar cane for Domes de Fabridougou. Similar to the Sindou Peaks i saw yesterday, but more round and less pointy. Still, it was nice to go on the hike. It was so serene and beautiful and hot, but dry. We hiked and sat on the top of a dome and took in the view and i had a smoke, trying to be in the moment as much as possible. On a dome, in Western Burkina Faso. 

We left and, much to my surprise, made a stop in my guide's village, near the domes. This is where he grew up until he was 15 and where most of his family lives, including his mother and daughters. About 25 people live in the small collection of tiny huts in the middle of the fields under a huge tree. Some smoke French, but all spoke in a local, tribal language (not Moore, something else). 

This was some serious, rural poverty. Not all the kids has clothes and those they had were in very poor repair. No water or electricity. No phone, no lights, no motorcar. But they were very friendly and hospitable. They swept off a place in the dirt, clearing it from debris, and laid out a straw mat for me to sit on. Several of the women and children started making lunch for my guide and i. While they cooked i sat and watched women tend to the children and the women and children doing each other's hair in braids. I tried to make some small talk, but mostly it was a lot of smiling.

After that my guide took me to two more unexpected stops. First was a visit to a ritual sacrifice area for the animists, of which he is one. Around a beautiful pool ringed with ricks and trees the ground was thickly carpeted in white chicken feathers.  It looked like snow. The trunk of one tall palm tree was thickly hung with ropes, which were tied on to skulls, jaw bones, goat legs, and what looked like the skin of a cow's face and head. From other trees and from the rock wall around the pool were more ropes dangling bones, skulls, and rocks.  All for sacrifice and offerings or protection. 

It was really interesting but it really looked like something out of a horror movie. Like if Leatherface and the Blairwitch collaborated on a little outdoor decorating.

Near the sacrifice area was the waterfall, which is a ridiculously picturesque series of small waterfalls and green, tropical pools. Had i been prepared i could have gone swimming. It was so beautiful it looked like something created for a film or Disneyland.

From there we went back along a particularly unnerving off road path on the moto, back to the village, where everyone had gathered for the sacrifice of a cow. When we got there the men were cutting up the carcass into pieces and the boys were washing the stomach and intestines. The women were preparing fires and vegetables. 

The meat was both cooked on sticks and boiled in water. The men ate first snd the women second, with the exception of me, who was served a mixture of rice and noodles. My guide had told them i was a vegetarian, which they found amusing but accommodated. The kids enjoyed looking at my tattoos and the photos on my camera, particularly the ones i took of them. It was an amazing experience.

I usually don't want a guide because i prefer to do things myself, but this was a time when i really could not have seen everything i did had i just been alone. 

The ride back to Banfora from the village was terrifying. It was dusk to dark. The road was so bumpy that at times i bounced off my seat. We dodged small goats, a large lizard, and regular size pigs. We brushed shoulders with herds of cows. Not only was it dark and treacherous, but it was windy and the dirt road coughed up a haze of orange. I was certain that i would die, but was delivered to my lodging safely, and quite filthy. 

I spent the rest of the evening chatting with Marion, the owner of the house at which i stayed and playing with the many kittens and puppies.

Banfora was delightful. Full of outdoorsy retreats and adventures. The next day i would return to Ouagadougou.


Barry Curts said...

Once again wonderful post and excellent photos. And to think we worry but a little dust in our house, that's it no more cleaning for me. Enjoy CHEERS PAT

Melinda said...

This was incredible to read about so I can't imagine experiencing in real life. The pictures of the life and the kids are magazine worthy. I think you missed your calling. Haha.

Wandering North said...

Thanks, Melinda dn Pat. It was a great experience.