Thursday, December 21, 2006

The intense fighting stopped around 11 pm last night. And it was just then that the US Embassy “sprung into action” somewhat after the fact, ordering me to call my citizens’ list and tell them to “stay indoors”. Gee, thanks for telling us.
There was sporadic gunfire at least until I fell asleep at midnight. Before I went to bed, I checked on our guardians. They were moving their chairs inside the courtyard, in violation of normal guardian procedure. Looked like a good idea to me
This morning at six we awoke to more shooting. After a particularly nasty bout of machine gun fire, JP turned on the radio to RFI to see if the story was in the news yet. There was a story “Calm has returned to Ouagadugou”, it began.
“Wow. Calm is so much noisier than I remember.” I commented to JP.
…..H is on the phone now to Isseuf. Their family is ok. The CRS camp is on fire, though. It seems that all the police stations in Ouaga were attacked last night….

Now I have the explanation for why the fighting seemed so nearby last night. The MACO (the national prison of Burkina) was attacked by military forces and 200 prisoners were freed. The back wall of the MACO is about a five minute walk from our house. No wonder the shots sounded so close.
The military is greatly feared by the president of Burkina, as a military coup is the only way he will ever leave office. Periodically, he shoves a bunch of officers into prison, accusing them of planning to overthrow him. Last night’s attack on the Maco was almost certainly aimed at freeing some of these political prisoners.

The electricity is off. And it seems impossible to get online. The phones are still working, so far.

In the midst of this chaos, I am somewhat busy patting myself on the back. I am in possession of no less than two turkeys (already dead and cleaned) and 30 eggs (The eggs are a big deal - very hard to get here. Weeks go by when you can’t buy any eggs at all!) I also have a good supply of flour, oil, pasta, sugar and other basics. Not to mention all the US cake mixes and frosting sent by my Dad in Nebraska. We WILL have Christmas dinner, even if we can’t leave the house! I just hope the power comes back so I don’t have to cook up both of those turkeys today.

I guess I won’t have to go work at the VAO or the exposition at the hotel
The latter is being held by the Lion’s Club at one of the smart hotels downtown, the Independance. Papiers was selected as a featured artisan and we managed to sell quite a bit over the last two days. But I doubt that “last minute Christmas shopping” counts as “necessary travel” for most people. I expect that shoppers will stay home today.

Our guardian says that there were people running by on our street all night. I guess old Moussa must have got up his courage in the night and peeked over the gate out into the road. . He thinks they were escaped prisoners.

I am going to try again to get online, post this and look for better news sources.


MLW said...

Yikes! Way to up the Christmas drama (speaking of drama, love the kids' modern version of the nativity play). It must be really hard to be hearing gunshots nearby while having no access to good information. And what sucky timing for Papiers.

I am sure you and everyone you know will come out well, but what a crazy thing to live through. Keep us posted when you can.

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for the news beth. i'm praying for your safety and the peace and safety of everyone in ouaga. I hope there will be peace by christmas. .