Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Bazoule Crocodiles

After i returned to Ouagadougou from Pô i had two full days left and little on my agenda of things to see and do, having already wandered around downtown on my previous visit, so i committed to doing some serious relaxing at the guesthouse, which has been lovely. But i did take in a couple of worthwhile things.

On my first day back i hired a taxi to take me to Bazoule, which is about 30 km outside of Ouagadougou and is notable for its small lake teeming with sacred crocodiles. I can't really comment on their sacred nature, but only on their abundance and fondness for poultry.
We arrived after a pleasant drive through the city and then the countryside. I paid a small admission fee and a bit extra for an ill-fated, live chicken. A man walked me to the lake and sure enough, crocodiles could be seen in the water. We walked to the shore and my guide waved the chicken in the air, causing it to cluck in what i can only assume was fear and some crocodiles came out of the water. (Yes, i felt like kind of a dick for putting the chicken through this turmoil, but i don't think too many chickens here live long and happy lives anyway, their destinies being sacrifice or supper.)

The guide was not satisfied with these crocs, however, saying they were too small, so we went in search of larger ones. We continued walking and i discovered that there are people living in huts around the lake, notwithstanding that visitors attend there for crocodile viewing.

We wandered off to some greener area where there were bits of water here and there and again the guide called for the crocodiles. This was more unsettling as the crocodiles could have appeared from anywhere around us, but none did.

We walked to the other side of the lake where some men were farming and we summoned a large crocodile from the water. It came on shore and sat there. My guide asked if i would like to touch the crocodile. I nervously asked if it was safe and he said casually, "it is no problem." Well, good enough then. If the man in flip flops carrying a small wooden stick says it is fine, then it must be. And so i stood astride the  crocodile and then nearly sat on it, slightly afraid that it would turn on me. But it did not. As i posed though, another crocodile came out of the water behind me, causing me to leap up and seek safety a few meters away.

I then took the chicken by its feet and tossed it to the large crocodile, who deftly caught it in its jaws and gulped it down whole with a few chews and a swallow. Brutal stuff but quite interesting. 

Having conquered the crocodiles, i headed back to the city, stopping for celebratory ice cream ("Americain flavour" aka cookies and cream) en route.

Last night was spent at the guesthouse with a cigar and dinner while enjoying a whole conversation in English with a new guest who had arrived from Ireland.

Today has been similarly leisurely, sans les crocodiles. After breakfast i decided to walk to the Village Artisanal for a bit of shopping. It was a long walk in traffic in the oppressive heat (made longer by my having set off confidently, but in the wrong direction), but the space was lovely. A series of open air shops selling art, textiles, and various crafts, with the people making them often right there. I picked up a few gifts, had a coffee in the shady courtyard, and returned to the guesthouse.
And here i now sit. Hours until my flight to Istanbul and no plans except staying cool and relaxing. My time in Burkina Faso has been perfect. I have enjoyed it and am ready to head off for a couple more stops on the way home.


Betty-Lou said...

Years ago you bought me a book called Women Travelers." This book was a series of "inspiring stories" of women who crossed continents, faced dangers while "flying in the face of social convention" during the period of 1850 - 1950. I said that Ernest Hemingway came to mind when I saw the photo of you and the crocodile but you are a 21st century "woman traveler" and I admire all the traits that make you who you are. Thank you for letting us share in your adventures.

Wandering North said...

Thanks, mom.