Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 5, 6 - Korhogo to Yamoussouokro

We finished off yesterday evening in Korhogo with a fabulous meal in a typical marquis. We had been told you can't leave Cote d'Ivoire without trying "possion brassiere". Around 8:00 pm we walked down the almost deserted street, to the roundabout, past all sorts of government buildings, various NGO buildings and projects. It was almost deserted. We had been given instructions in the hotel, but of course, our French isn't perfect, and what you are told in Africa doesn't always come to fruition. Anyway, we started to get excited when, after taking a left turn at the roundabout, we found a road sign that pointed not to "Abidjan" as we had been told, but "Bouake", and we saw a green light! We turned towards it and found a large circle of braziers. and tables and chairs. It was like an open air food court. Similar to the "Food Circles" in Singapore. So, we sat down and ordered some beers, and then some chicken and some fish. It was delicious. Some of the best chicken and fish we have had for a long time. The fact that we had to wait close to two hours for dinner is all put down to "we are in Africa". Then we wandered back to the hotel, past the army barracks, and the sleeping town, to the hotel.
Tuesday morning, we left around 9:00 a.m. and set off south west to Yammousoukro. It was a beautiful drive, became much more vegetation, roads deteriorated, you know how people run away from a sniper in a series of S curves, that is how the journey went in order to avoid the pot holes, broken tarmac and generally rough spots. Surprisingly, most roads were paved. But the condition of those paved roads was total deterioration, like most things in Africa. The physche is difficult to understand. Nothing gets fixed until it is broken, nothing is maintained, and the result is that you know it was a beautiful building/road/ etc. years ago, but now it is a disaster.

We found a deserted spot to camp under the hydro wires about 40/50 km from Yamoussoukro and for the first time in W. Africa only had one observer who actually rode his bike past the camp and laughed silently to himself as he saw all the tents and our rituals. No hoards of kids, no men standing by, just peace and quiet.

Wedneday morning we took off around 9:00 It was a really hot day, and as it went on it became more and more humid. We drove into Yamoussasoukra and went straight to the Basilica. This is an incredible building. This is an incredible city. The Basilica ( was built in 3 years from 1985 t0 1989 and consecreated by the Pope in 1992 by a former president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny. He essentially built it as a monument to himself. He wantd to build the greatest church in the world. It is beautiful as you will see from the pictures. It is designed around the St. Peters Basilica in Rome - it is simple, beautiful, and quite out of place in a country where simplicity abounds and has been criticized on a global basis as being an extravagance in a poor African country. The town too is uncanny. There are wide avenues throughout the city but it is very quiet. Not many people, around. In fact this evening, 6 of us took a taxi back to the Bailica to see it lit up at night time, and on the way back someone in the group said that we should take another road because the road we were on was so quiet.We got an English speaking guide and took a tour around the Basilica and learned all of the stats. Then we went to a pizza restaurant for lunch and set off around town in the truck to look for a place to camp. Amazingly, there are tons of big hotels. I think this might be because it is the capital and because there are all kinds of UN, NGOs, etc. around town - so probably lots of business people. We eventually found a really neat spot and are camping on the grass in a small hotel. The upside for them is the camping fees, 1500 cfs per person, the beer and drinks, and the fact that a small number have upgraded to rooms.

It is sort of like being in a fairly land here. The Basilica, the city, the large avenues and the pretentious hotels situated in a land of poverty.

After the Basilica we drove by the Moslem Mosque. We wandered around it and then finding a gate open 3 of us wandered in. We have been warned we cannot go in the Mosques, but as we were peering in this guy in a wheel chair came up and told the 2 guys to take off their shoes and go in, which they did. He then told me to take off my shoes and go into the lady's side, which I did. We all got some pictures, which he said we could do. Then the call to prayer started and I thought I should I exited I could see our trip leader standing at the gate beckoning to me so I hurried out. I think he was a bit nervous that I shouldn't be there and the guy who showed us in had no right to do so. So, I guess I got to see inside my first Mosque. But, I get the feeling that the Moslem attitude here is quite relaxed and as with the other religions they practice it with a mix of animism.Anyway, it was another experience.

We are now settled into our hotel camp site for the night. Tomorrow we take off for Man and 2 weeks of jungle, isolation, and certainly off the beaten track. Stay well and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 3, 4 - Korhogo

Today was filled with adventure. Four of us decided we wanted something a little less "organized" than a guided trip of the small villages outside Korhogo, and we went off in search of renting a couple of bike-taxis. We struck a deal with 2 guys, one had a 250 cc Leopard, and the other a 125 cc Sanyo for 25000 cfa for the day to take us to 3 villages outside the city, the furthest being 45 km away. We climbed on the bikes and off we went through the rain-rutted dirt roads of Korhogo to the villages beyond. Our travel was mainly on red laterite irregular roads through the country side and 17 km later we arrived in Koni. There is a ritual to visiting these small traditional villages. First you have to find the Chief, then pay him a visit. Everyone sits down, and shakes hands, and very politely introduce each other to the Chierf. Then it is customary to hand him a small dash for the "village". After that, usually someone has attached themselves to you as your guide and you are free to roam the village and take pictures as you wish. The villages we chose may have been more popular prior to the rebellion, but now they do not see many, if any, visitors. There is no tourism in Cote d'Ivoire so there is no infrastructure set up to amuse tourists. We wandered around the village (400/500 people)amazing at the traditional architecture of mud huts with thatched rooves, and mingled with the local villagers as they did their cooking, spinning, cotton packing, grain thrashing, and of course played with the children. The children are very curious and have no preconceived ideas about visitors other than that we were very different from them. They loved having their pictures taken, and there were chuckles, and amazed expressions when we showed them the pictures after. Then we were back on the bikes and off across the fields to our second stop at Kasoumbarga. I have always wanted to try a motocross and this gave me my opportunity! The path through the fields was just that. We bounced gingerly through the mango trees, cotton plants, and straw grass on a narrow path avoiding rocks and stones, rain gullies, corduroy ripples. We had no idea where we were, and neither did our drivers, so whenever we saw someone working in the fields, we would stop and ask the way. A couple of times we were off route and had to retrace our tracks and take a different fork. No idea how we made it but we did, and soon we were rolling into Kasoumbarga. This village was similar in size but after our ritual with the Chief we were shown around the Catholic School, the Mosque, a Baptist church service, as well as the ruins of an old monastery. The church bell at the catholic school was a beaten up old metal structure which somehow managed to produce the sound of church bells. Here the cotton packing was in full swing and we saw the whole process from taking it from where it was stored in the village to packing it into bags and loading it into the huge containers waiting to take it off to market. Most of these little villages work as a cooperative so somehow I guess the benefits are shared. Finally we took off again through the fields on a track that led to a paved road leading towards our third stop at Niofouin. We were bombing along the paved road getting stiffer and stiffer and finally I said to my bike partner Ed: "Let's do a short stop to stretch" which we did. Ray was having a hard time with the lack of flesh on his bum and so he switched over to sit behind me and Ed went on the bigger bike with Sally. Did I mention that we were 3 up? The driver and 2 of us. I had suggested Ray and I split up so that if anything happened to one the other would be fine! Anyway, when we set off it was only a couple of yards before our driver stopped with a flat tyre. Couldn't believe our luck, we were in a small village and we stopped right by a tyre shop! Fortunately the other bike didn't get too far before they realized we were in trouble and they came back. So we sat waiting for the tyre to be fixed. No shops, so nothing to eat for lunch, no drinks, and nothing really to see. Word must have spread that we were there and people from the village did come and take a look!! Probably about an hour later we were on our way again. We soon left the paved road and took the dirt cut off to the village. This was a bigger village, and this time we were accosted by the police and had to pay 5000 cfa to the Mayor! The houses and the people were lovely, but we got mixed up with some crazy guy when trying to photograph one of their sacrifical sites. Not sure what it was all about, but we just got out of his way as quickly as possible and kept going. Our drivers said he had been drinking. We spent some time with a bunch of construction workers who were building a new compound, and the number of children who followed us around became overwhelming. however, all the women has a good sense of humour and got as much of a chuckle out of it as we did. By this time it was 5 o'clock and as we had 45 km to go to get back to the city we thought we should leave. it was about an hour and a half back on a paved road, very little traffic, and about the only attraction were the herds of cows which barred our path from time to time. All in all, we felt very safe. Our drivers took good care of us and were experts at manipulating all the challenges of the country paths, dirt roads, and paved highways. The only time we felt any threat was a few moments at one of the check points - I could smell alcohol and the chap on the "rope" across the road was a little threatening to the driver but soon renegged and let us through. So, I don't know if there was any danger in doing what we did, but if there was, we didn't have any sense of it. We were in some pretty remote places and I really don't think the trouble would have been in fhe fields or villages, but who knows about the paved roads. We came home exhausted, covered in red dirt, but happy and excited about the day. Final analysis: thrill high, experience high, education moderate!!

As it was Sunday night most restauratns were closed but we found a little Moroccan restaurant close to the hotel and settled down to a lovely fresh salad, chicken, and french fries!!

Today, Monday, we have chiled. Took a walk around the city, saw the Grand Mosque, the Town Hall, some of the government buildinghs, and the street markets. Then I settled down to try and update my blog and save my pictures.

Korhogo is the capital of the Senoufo ethnic group and is famous for its art and crafts. The city was seized by the rebels in 2002 and has been the centre of many brutal gun battles. In 2004 the UN discovered mass graves in the town. We are staying in the Hotel Mont Korhogo. It was probably in its hey day in the 1970s but now, although it still has the charm of it's earlier years, it is a little worn. However, the rooms are great, there is a pool, and it's location is central. Had some laundry done which I rescued from the cockroach infested washrooms last night before bed. It also has a zoo of sourts. 3 crocodiles, some deer, a turtle, and some chickens. I don't think the animal rights activists can have found it yet, as I am sure they would not be happy and would have lots to say about it!!

Tomorrow we head west in Cote d'Ivoire and will be out of touch for many days. So, keep checking and as soon as I can, I will continue. In the meantime, take care, and if you feel cold, think of us here in the boiling hot African temperatures in the mid to upper 30s!!

February 2 - Drive to Korhogo - Cote d'Ivoire

Feb 2-Korhogo - Cote d'Ivoire

Early on Saturday morning we ate breakfast and packed up our camp site ready for the trek into Cote d'Ivoire. The border town, Niangoloko, was no more than a strip of vendors selling food, drinks, clothes and souvenirs. First we had to leave Burkina, and then after a 10 k drive enter into Cote d'Ivoire. Lots of red tape, showing of documents, demands for further documents in order to collect extra monies, a moment of concern when they asked for proof of Meningitis shots because there had been a new outbreak in the local area - but yellow fever is the only shot "required" by the government regulations. So....after some palaver we were allowed in. It caused a lot of interest when we set up for lunch, and of course the usual group of interested onlookers. You get used to that. I think it works fairly equally, we get as much pleasure from watching what the Africans do as they get of watching what we do. Some of the children are scared of us, and although the mother may be pushing them forward for a photo, often the little babies start to cry. That makes you feel awful that you have frightened them! The slightly older children are all about touch. They take a few tentative steps towards you holding out their hand, finally pluck up the courage to touch you, and then try to stroke your arm or hand whichever they are brave enough to get close to. Then there are the other children who march up to us confidently and grab hold of your hand and become attached for the duration of your stay at that place. There is also a keen sense of camraderie with the women. They will look somberly right in to your eyes, and if you look straight back at them and smile, their faces open up into a broad smile of an accomplice.

The journey into Cote d'Ivoire and Korhogo was quite beautiful. We entered the land of the mango plantations which lined the roads, and the vegetation became quite lush, well, not Canadian style "lush", but African style "lush". Still an awful lot of burning in the fields. At times it looks as if it is quite out of hand - but who knows. The fires always seem to go out somehow.

We pulled into Korhogo around 3:30/4:00, had some time to relax before I headed off to my cook group to make dinner. Unfortunately, no meat, so it was a vegetable curry, green beans, and rice!

Let me tell you a little bit about Cote d'Ivoire. The country was made up of numerous ethnic groups which migrated into the region from all around about 400 years ago, and one of the larger groups were the Senoufo who are strong in and around Korhogo. The Portuguese were the first European group, but because the country didn't have great harbours, they suffered little from the slave trade. In the 1840s the French arrived and developed trading relations with the various groups. The French developed the railways, and the coffee, cocoa, and banana plantations. The country was West Africa's most prosperous country. It became independent in 1960 and continued to flourish with an economy based on agriculture - coffee, cocoa, pineapples, and palm oil for a good 20 years. Then, the world recession in the early 1980s hit, followed by a drought in 1983/84 and the economy, and constant power failures in the capital Abidjan. The President, who had ruled for 33 years, did everything he could to slash spending etc. but he was aging. In the 1995 elections a new president was elected but he discriminated against immigrants who had been the backbone of the country for many years, including against the Muslims, and in 1999 there was a military coup which brought his presidency to an end and only served to bring unrest to the country. The coup was followed by a military rebellion, violence, and further elections in 2000. Resulting accusations of parentage against the winner ended up in a failed coup in 2002, rebellion and troops from the north gaining control of much of the country. French troops came in and peace talks were held so that in 2003 both sides declared the war over. In 2004 lack of improvement in the economic situation in the country led to breaking the ceasefire and the Prewsident began bombing rebel strongholds. During this time jets struck a Frencgh military base killing 9 French peacekeepers. The French retaliated by destroying the Ivorian air force and Abijan because the centre of total unrest. Eventually elections were scheduled for 2007 and French peacekeepers startd to pull back. But a rocket attach on the PM's plane killed four of his aides and UN Security Council renewed arms sanctions for another year. In April 2008 there were violent protests against rising food costs which stalled the elections even further. Then there were claims of disorganized voter registration and the elections were postponed again and again and were eventually held in 2010. Of course there were accusations all round which led to crisis here in 2010/2011 which was not settled until April 2011. Currently US travel warnings alert travellers to be conscious of security, but these warnings are mainly for the southern part where we are not travelling. So, all being well, provided we keep a heightened sense of security, it should be good. Hope that is not too obscure an explanation. Wikipaedia has quite a good and fuller description, but I just thought you might like to know some of the tumultuous background of this country.

Feb 1 - Sindou Peaks

Friday Feb 1 - Sindou Peaks - Soutrala

Had another good nights sleep without interruption and up in the morning for breakfast at 8. Breakfast today was porridge, and a fruit mix of paw paw and mango, grapefruit segments to die for, and toast if you wanted it. The bread here is fantastic. I guess the French influence it is mainly baguette. Our cook group is up for dinner tomorrow night and breakfast the following morning so we had to go shopping in the market in Banfora. We went through the covered market but didn't find too much there so ended up out on the streets where all the vegetables were. They had bright green, crisp lettuce; small bright red plum like tomatoes; little garden eggs; massive courgettes, aubergines, fresh green beans, plump cabbages; even ssome potatoes; and of course yam. The other exciting stalls were the spice stalls all kinds of marsala, and the others I didn't really recognize. But there was lots of food. We tried hard to find meat or chicken without too much luck. We did eventually find this old building set back from the main street - like a big aluminium shed where they had tables set up for cutting up the carcasses of meet. There wasn't a lot in there, and what we saw we decided to pass. We had noticed one stall in the market where an old man sat chopping up meat which was immediately swarmed by the flies - so we ended up planning a vegetarian meal of veg and rice. Not the most balanced diet, but what else can we do? We have eggs for breakfast, with pineapple and bananas so a little protein there, and then dinner we will do the veg like a stir fry and serve it with flavoured rice. The 'super market" was another store not to be missed. It was a small dark metal building with not very much in it. Tons of biscuits, tinned spam, tinned veg such as corn, lots of Fanta and Coke, some spirits such as scotch and rum, and I even noticed wine. I was looking for milk and went on a search of the town but didn't find any packets of milk. Shopping is a great experience!! The women were lovely, and bargained, and laughed, and generally enjoyed the white shoppers.

We came back to the truck to find our driver had been hauled off to the police station for parking in the main street. There are no 'no parking' rules, so it is all explained by being in Africa. The police didn't know what to do so the next thing is that the military arrived! Well, they didn't know what to do either, so they left, Dave came back and we got in the truck and drove off! A study of Africa is fascinating. In many instances they just don't know how to handle situations and phaff around with conversation. It usally ends with lots of laughter and handshakes all round.

We drove down a red road lined with trees. We went through an area with lots of bigger trees, then back into the Savanah. Burkina seems to have more farming than Ghana, but it does seem very much poorer and the people appear less educated. There seem to have been some huge plantations here and often we will see buildings and other structures that were clearly built in the 50s but have not been maintained and are now in ruin. What happened in between? Why has Africa not continued the development? There are so many questions here with no answers.

The road looked more like a track cut through the trees - really bumpy, dusty, and of course red. We are staying in a campement at the Sindou Peak -Campement de Liberte - something like that. It is another rocky formation that stands above all of the flat land and stretches from here into Mali. The shapes are quite "phallic" and walking through them was like walking through the Valley of Death. It was a very powerful experience, beautiful in some sort of macabre way.I think the r ocks were left behind when the surronding softer rock wasworn away and have been weathered over the years to from the symbols, and shapes found today.

We got back to the campement, where we actually have running water for a shower, but the most horrible drop box toilets that stink of urine and are alive with the sound of the buzzing flies. The bush is much nicer but there are so mnay people around that it is hard to find a spot where there are no little faces watching, pointing, and laughing. One little kid tried to take my toilet roll from me this morning in Banfora.....they couldn't see what it was - they just wanted it. This is a real issue here. Everyone sees "white man" - they should give us something. I guess we have done it to ourselves when you consider all the aid we have poured into the country. Dambisa Moyo has a reall point in her book on "Dead Aid".

The police arrived just before I went for the shower and seem to be staying over night in the mud huts which we could have "upgraded to". Actually they are not badl. Like a yurt in shape - round with peaked rooves, a bed and a small window...and a mosquite net inside. So, we should be safe tonight!! The police were aparently returning from a patrol on the Mali border.

Ray is on cook group and i am sitting drinking a beer, in the midst of our group, listening to all the conversations about photography, travel, and football, etc.

Jan 30 - Banfora

Wednesday Jan 30 - Banfora

We left around 9 in the morning headed to Banfora. Made a quick stop in Bobo for cook groups to shop, and headed out of town. It was a lovely drive, and the Savannah turned into more luscious trees, became a little more hilly, with some large rivers or water holes, and then we entered into the land of the cotton plantations. When we reached Banfora we turned off the main road and went cross country on a tiny track headed to the Karfiguela Falls. It was a beautiful drive and we ended up camping just before the falls in a small campement. We are surrounded by locals - some of them a nomadic tribe which I think is where the cows come from. Lots of sugar cane in the distance. We immediately walked up to the Karfiguela Fallsfalls (about 15 mins) and had a beautiful dip underneath the falls themselves. Then back to the camp site for dinner.

Overnight we had terrific winds which woke us up, but no rain, and of course the sounds I heard outside the tent of bandits coming to rob us, or wild animals coming to eat us, turned out to be one of the innocent little hens.

Thursday morning (Jan 31) we were up for breakfast and left the camp at 9 for our trek to the Fabedougou Domes - about 3 km. An interesting walk again passing through the myseerious avenue of tall Mangno Trees, climbing up over the rocks, and past the shimmering water pools of the cascadng falls, then along a double pipe line taking water to the cane field which provided an ideal alternative to the sandy,stoes of the path. The domes were fascinating. They are huge limestone rocks carved into different shapes by the water and wind over the years. You'll see the pictures. So of course, we had to climb them. It was a very special place and a ton of fun. Then we came back for lunch, and back up to the falls where we spent the rest of the afternoon, dunking in the cool water pools, doing another yogo session, then a good wash behind the falls again. Beautiful!!

Jan 27 cont. and Jan 28 - Ougadougou and Bobo

I'll tell you about our "culinary" experience  of last evening here! We got a cab from the hotel to take the first three of our group, then they came back for the remaining three. We really didn't have a place in mind but we wanted something local and had noticed some "maquis" on the outskirts of town. So, we started with drinks in a road side pub/restaurant. When we walked in - which was still outside under a canopy, all the chairs were on one side of the rows of tables and facing the road. At first I thought maybe there was a TV or something going on that everyone was watching. But no. A little strange, but I've noticed it in each of the local restaurants I have been in. By this time, Jamie, our organizer for the night, had spotted a place that he suggested we go to, however, getting into conversation with some of the locals, the guy led us off somewhere else. Fatal!!! Anyway, it was all an experience and lots of fun. We ended up around the corner off the main road in a little deserted unpaved side street opposite some definitely closed businesses. In all fairness, the restaurant itself was rather "upscale"...well there some plastic palm trees by the entrance and I think some used candles on the tables, and there was a very lovely black couple in a suite and pretty dress sitting beside us. We put in our order and waited, and waited, and waited. I think it was about 1 1/2 hours before we got served and then I am not sure how many people got anything resembling their order! You couldn't really tell because I don't think there were any lights. I ordered rice with chicken and ended up with what looked like the carcas of a fish that was left over from a previous meal. I think there was one bite of fish, it actually tasted delicious, but the bones were huge and then I tasted the flavour of the fish on the paper thin french fries and that put me right off the 2nd, and last, mouthful of it! The few chips were delicious and the plantain of course is always good. But by themidnight, and the hunger had faded. We noticed a tiny white and tan cat hovering close by and so I emptied my plate on the ground. She ate a little then disappeard and came back with the tiniest white kitten. Ray gave them the rest of his plate. The little kitten ate its fill and then kept cuddling into its mother - all in the aid of survival. Then it was time to try and find a taxi in the by now very quiet suburb streets. Jamie got one and despite the fact there were 6 of us, we manged to squeeze in. Being the smallest of course I was the one who had to lie across the other 4 in the back seat. I think I must have squashed them into the seat, but I was really quite comfortable with my soft knee-bed to lie in. If we had ever been stopped by the police we would have ended up in gaol!! Anyway, we made it safely back to the hotel where the group had another beer and eventually I took off to bed around 1:00 a.m. Quite a night, but a also quite a tale.

Monday Jan 28 - Off to Bobo

As our drive to Bobo was only about 3 or 4 hours we didn't have to leave till around 10:30 so had lots of time to get up and shower and have breakfast and even go to the pharmacie to get Ray some anibiotics and cough pastilles before heading off to Bobo Dilassou. The drive was as uneventful as most Africans can be. We drove through the Savannah, past the little villages with their eclectic layouts, colourful people, and goats, donkeys, and chickens. No armed guards needed along the way, and no sign of bandits!!

We arrived in Bobo later in the afternoon, and checked out this new guest house that Dave had heard about. When he was in Kumasi over Christmas he had apparently met a Dutch couple whose car had broken down but whom he was always to help out by fixing it. When they head what he was doing he told them that they had to camp at their neighbour's place - Foret Diassou on General Charles de Gaulle Ave. Fortunately Dave thought it OK and they agreed to camping on their grounds so we pulled in, and set up the tents. Ray and I chatted quite extensively with Dyanne and Solo the couple who ran the guest house. The property was owned by 2 old French ladies. It was a large compound with a cute little house and they had already added an auberge - i.e. some rooms and a wash room. There was an old pool which needs a lot of work. Their story is that Solo, a black Rastafarian looking guy with dreds and a smile that made you melt inside, had lived in Holland for 27 years and wanted to go back to Burkina to develop his music. Dyanne is Dutch, white, also with Dreds, and really pleasant and attentive. They had two little kids one 6 and one 3 and they thought that if they were ever going to do the move, now would be a good time. They haven't been there a year yet. I gather it has been quite a challenge. They say the blacks are totally unreliable, never turn up when they say so, lie,and steal and can never be trusted! As an example they said that they had sold the car they brought from Holland 10 times - and each time was a confirmed sale, but the buyer never turned up with the money to pay for the car! Dyanne also said it was extremely hard to run a business with local help because of their temperament. She also told us about the refugee camps being set up for the people from Mali, (Bobo is the first stop out of Mali) about the French who had already arrived in Bobo, the extra awareness of the military, and of course everyone's sincerest hopes that the unrest from Mali doesn't spill over into Burkina. Did I tell you we saw one of the French military planes landing in Ouga the day they did their insurgence into Tripoli?

Bobo-Dioulasso or Bobo had a lovely feeling about it. It is more of a cultural centre than Ouga and smaller and prettier with narrow tree lined streets, a white mosque similar to the one in Larabongo, an amazing market that you can wander in for hours and not pass the same stalls twice. We noticed lots of live music advertized for every night except the nights we were there. The people were slightly more friendly than Ouga although we definitely found the women to be more sombre and it was hard to get a smile out of them. I think the population is around 500,000.

After we had sorted ourselves out, we headed out to the Dankan Restaurant for dinner. Once again I tried ordering vegetarian but ended up with mutton an hour and a half later!! It is really hard to get vegetables when you are eating out. It is also a little hard to get used to the locals who just come up and plonk themselves down beside you. Invariably they are trying to sell you something, then they try for a "cadeau", then last of all a drink. I find this habit of asking for something really bothersome.

Then we walked back to the guest house, past the million red and green lights in the shape of a Christmas tree lighting up the main square, and down the road avoiding pot holes, motor cycles, bicycles, goats, and chickens.

On Tuesday we were up about 8 and ready for breakfast around 9:00. I had ordered crepes and coffee, and it was delicious. Then Ray, Sally and I set off to explore the market. We must have left the camp around 10:30 and didn't get back until 3:45. We wandered around the town and discovered the city hall and the railway station with its two train routes - one to Ouga and one to Abdijan. We saw the mosque, this is similar to the one we saw in Larabanga but much newer being built in 1893 in the typical Sahel mud style with with theconical towers and wooden pegs which both support the structure and act as scaffolding when they are re-plastering. Didn't see too many white people, but any we did see were French. In the evening we went to a local bar to watch the Burkina vs Zambia foot ball game. There were hoots of joy when the game resulted in a draw. We waved our newly purchased green and red flags and jumped up and down along the locals. Then it was back to the guest house for dinner. Brochettes, salad, and chips! Later in the evening we had a fire and then Solo played his guitar and sang for us around the campfire. Then off to bed.