Here's the truth:If you are a person possessing two X chromasomes and an even minimal sense of modesty, the first rule of travel by car in Burkina is: Don’t Drink Anything. Drinking leads to peeing and the highway rest area "facilities" consist of roadside shrubs. Small, scrawny, practically leafless shrubs that could not even provide Paris Hilton with sufficient cover.
And while the countryside may seem deserted and traffic minimal, I guarantee you that the minute you step out of your car to enjoy a moment alone, a couple of young boys herding cattle will appear as if by magic. Then an old guy on a bike will pedal past with almost painful slowness. Finally, a bus from
So, for shorter trips, it’s just less stressful to get into the car thirsty and stay that way. But it does make you extremely anxious to reach your destination and have a glass of water. Luckily JP drives pretty fast. Even more luckily, he has pretty good reflexes, which you certainly need for highway driving here. At various points on the way to Gourcy on Saturday, he had to swerve to avoid goats, sheep, and pigs as well as a small, very adorable donkey.
When we finally got to Gourcy, it was quite a surprise, Our pal Antoine calls it his “village” but it’s actually a good-sized population center. The urban area has electricity and even boasts a nightclub called “Le Titanic”! There are no two-story buildings, though, and most of the people live out in the “neighborhoods” of Gourcy. These neighbourhoods are actually small villages, but they are considered to be part of the town. Anyway, this means that the place is very dispersed. We had to drive around quite a bit to find the party site. I took the first photo while we were searching. You can see that I’m not exaggerating when I say “dispersed”.
Antoine runs the NGO that JP works for. Gourcy is his home village and he was very graciously hosting a goodbye party for our Dutch pal Yann at the hotel/conference center he has built. I was very surprised when we finally found it. I had kept my expectations low, but was delighted to find that he and his wife have built a lovely inn/conference center with 30 rooms. It was very charming, pristinely clean and landscaped with lots of flowers and greenery. The rooms were simple and small, but perfectly nice, in a West African kind of way. (You can see the front of our room in the second picture I posted).
As I was putting my bag on the small table beside the door, JP checked out the bathroom.
“You know,” he said “The way this is set up, I could brush my teeth, pee and shower, all at the same time. What a timesaver!”
I came over to have a look, which was easy because the room was tiny and the bathroom had no door on it. Not even a curtain. And the interior of the
But I wasn’t going to let that bother me! I was happy to be there, sitting in the shade, drinking a large glass of water. JP went around asking after our host. He was told that Antoine was in his “garden”. We weren’t quite sure what to make of that. We asked if it was nearby, like maybe he had a little potato patch behind the hotel. But no, the “garden” was “far”, so we settled in to wait.
The guests of honor arrived soon after that. Yann and Freida unpacked their baggage and joined us. They had news from Ouaga. None of the other guests were coming! Most of the people invited are development experts and spend much of their time travelling. Unfortunately, Air Burkina employees decided to strike on the weekend. People who had planned on making it to the party were trapped in various other African cities with no hope of arriving by Saturday night. So, suddenly the party went from modest to minuscule. So we thought……