I did something i seldom do anymore, which is i arrived in my destination without a hotel/hostel reservation. I stopped doing this after i arrived in Prague during the jazz festival and found every conceivable accommodation booked aside from the worst hotel in Europe, which did not have a shower but did have a host of bedbugs.
Anyway, i arrived in Pô from Ouagadougou after a very pleasant three hour bus journey. Unlike previous bus trips, this one was not oversold, had highly functioning AC, and i had two seats to myself from which to enjoy the view of dry landscapes, villages, and cotton fields.
Pô is a dusty little town in south Burkina Faso, near the border with Ghana. There is no reason to visit it except that it is the jumping off place to view elephants etc in the Nazinga nature reserve and to see a little village called Tiébélé. I was there for the latter.
I left the bus depot, map in hand with three hotels noted. The first no longer existed, the second was full, but i got a room at the third. The Hotel Tiandora Esperance. It looked like it might have been ok once but now looked like a low rent motel that had barely survived a war. Dusty and broken with piles of garbage and junk. No place to eat or sit really. On the plus side, my room was clean and the AC worked well, also the guy working there, a young guy from Cote d'Ivoire with a slight mohawk, was very nice.
Getting to the hotel was a struggle. My map was a bit wrong and left me in circles on the super dusty roads, walking in a perpetual cloud of dust, like Pig Pen. The streets were mostly empty aside from donkeys, loads of pigs and goats, and lizards on every wall. It was blazingly hot and no shade to be found.
After getting my room though i felt a bit better and set off to wander after i arranged for a moto for the next morning. The town has one paved road through and the rest is just bumpy, dusty side streets. This made it easy to find things and there were a few decent places to eat, including one which had four vegetarian dishes on the menu. A miracle in a place where vegetarian usually means meat with vegetables.
As i didn't have anything else to do, i walked a lot, checking out the businesses (mostly auto repair shops and hair salons) and people watching. In Pô i seemed to attract more attention that elsewhere i have been in the country. People called out "Nasara" constantly, which means "white woman" in one of the tribal languages. I don't think it is meant in a derogatory way, as it is often accompanied with a friendly "bon arrivé", but i don't care for it. A lot of little kids ran out to say "bonjour" and shake my hand, which was always welcome.
I ate and smoked and napped and walked and smoked some more while finishing my book. There is no internet in Pô. I have been rereading "On the Road" on this trip for the first time since high school. I still like it though i found it sadder than i remember. Teenage me was captivated by the freedom and adventure. This still resonates with adult me, but so does Sal's on going unhappiness in wondering if that is all there is: uncertainty and the pursuit of "kicks". Anyway, i finished the book sitting in a chair i dragged outside, and slept well. The next day i was headed for Tiébélé.