Thursday, November 15, 2007
He nearly sliced the thief with his trusty machete! Our elderly guardian may look frail, but Salfo apparently does not lack courage. It was 2am on Wednesday morning when Salfo spotted a young man climbing over the garden wall that separates our yard from that of our neighbors on the right. He had been on the lookout, as we have had two thefts within the last few months. In July, two pairs of JP's shoes were stolen off our terrace. Then, while I was in the hospital with malaria, the thief struck again, carrying off no less than three pairs of expensive shoes. This left my older kids with no tennis shoes to wear to school. Which is a problem, as they are required for gym class. For reasons I will explain below, it is VERY hard to replace shoes here, so it really is a problem. For the moment, Valentine and Severin are sharing an old pair of JP's tennis shoes. They alternate wearing them. It's kind of like "Little House on the Prarie" where Laura and Mary have just the one pair of lace-up boots to wear to school and have to share.
Anyway, when the thief showed up a third time, we were all ready. The shoes were all under lock and key in a cupboard and the guardians on full alert. Salfo heard a sound up by the terrace, grabbed his machete and came to investigate. A young guy wearing jeans and a long-sleeved shirt was climbing over the south wall. Salfo ran up and took a few swings at him. Completely paniced, the thief fell backwards over the wall and back down into Tony's yard. He scrambled to his feet and sprinted towards the back wall, which faces an abandoned lot. He quickly vaulted it and ran off into the night.
All the racket woke up Tony and Kirstin. As their bedroom is on the south side of their house, they were right next to all the action. Our bedrooms, however, are on the opposite side of the house, so we slept through it all, despite our open windows.
We only learned about all the excitement when we woke up the next morning. Salfo was very pleased with himself. He was very brave, but I'm still glad he didn't actually chop anyone's limbs off.
We are hoping the robber won't be back. But who knows? In the meantime, I have to figure out the shoe situation. It's complicated. Here's a short tutorial on Shoes in Burkina:
"Tapettes". In the USA we call them flip-flops, beach sandals or thongs, the latter term NOT to be confused with a "thong", which is very uncomfortable type of underpants. Tapettes are the most typical kind of footwear found in Burkina. They are cheap- the going rate is 600 cfa a pair (just over $1), so they are affordable and available, arriving by the container-load from China. You can easily buy them in any marketplace and no haggling over the price is required. Any other type of shoe, though, is a completely different matter. For any style other than a simple tapette, you need to go to one of the special shoe markets. There you find open-air stands full of a myriad of styles- shoes that also come from China and tend to be very cheap imitations of popular brands. So, you browse, checking out the shoddy "Nikes", "Air Jordans", etc. Then you start to talk price and things get bad. If you are a non-local, especially a white-colored non-local, the vendors take you for a complete idiot and start quoting very high prices. Prices far beyond what I would even pay in the USA. It's completely ridiculous and frustrating. You see Burkinabe kids wearing these shos and you know their parents did not pay 60 dollars a pair or even 30 dollars. It drives me mad and I refuse to pay even $30 for a bad pair of shoes that I could get at a Walmart for $9, all because I'm the wrong color.
So, here we are, one month later and I have still not solved this problem.
BTW, In another shoe-related incident, my tapettes disappeared on Friday night, then mysteriously reappeared on Saturday morning. I had been to a party at a friend's house that night and left my shoes on the terrace, as is good manners here in Burkina. But when I went to leave, my black tappettes were gone and in their place was a brown pair. We figured that one of the other guests must have slipped mine on my accident. But who? It was a mystery. Saturday morning, I ran some errands. When I got home at 10am, the brown tapettes I'd left on my terrace by our door had been replaced with my own black ones. I later thanked my friend for finding my shoes, but she had no clue what I was talking about. Very odd.