Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bus from Banfora, Burkina Faso

I left Banfora for Ouagadougou on the bus. I had hoped to bus to Bobo-Dioulasso and fly the rest of the way but there were no flights on Sunday, so i committed to a bus journey of indeterminate length. The buses here seem to leave punctually but the arrival times are vague. This is due mostly to the great number of security checkpoints, which i understand have increased. About every thirty minutes a couple of machine gun bearing soldiers will either board the bus or haul everyone off the bus to check IDs. No questions are asked. I can't figure out what they are looking for.  So this slowed down the journey a lot.

The bus was crammed with people and about half of the women had babies or toddlers on their laps, including the woman next to me. On the whole ride music and videos were played at a volume that was not extreme, but on the loud side. Decent African music in the more traditional or jazzy vein, as well as contemporary African pop music, accompanied by videos that showed women of all sizes shaking their asses, and men dressed as though they were in early 1990s rap music videos. At one point they showed the movie "Taken" in French, which i quite enjoyed; otherwise i listened to podcasts.

Every time the bus stopped women would appear and flock to the windows, selling fruits, bread, hard boiled eggs, chicken, fish, farina beignets, bags of onions, baguettes, and little sesame snacks. People leaned out of the windows, buying the food and before long the smell of body odour on the bus was replaced by a variety of food smells.

At the only stop long enough take a brief break, i dashed off the bus for the toilet, which was a squat thing which became immersed in total darkness once the door was closed. I'm fairly certain i peed on my own foot.

The seats had no legroom and i spent my time with my knees jammed into the back of the seat in front of me. There was AC, but it barely functioned, so i sat sweating the whole way.

If this all sounds like 9 hours of horror, well, while it was not pleasant, it wasn't that bad. I was able to relax. The child and woman next to me where quiet. I slept a bit. And like i said, they showed Taken.

I arrived in Ouagadougou just before sunset and hailed a taxi to my hotel (the lovely Chez Giuliana). Once there i showered vigorously and had a vegetarian pizza delivered (as there are no restaurants in the immediate vicinity). I ate my pizza and enjoyed two cigars under the stars in  courtyard before falling asleep. The next day i would be back on the bus.

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