Life without the internet at home has been good for me, sort of. Often, my morning routine normally consists of: 1.Getting online 2.
I can use up one or two hours (or more!) before I actually get down to the task of writing for this blog. It can be very hard to get online here and when you do, the pages are really slow to load. And then the internet holds so many distractions, especially if you love to read. I was just talking to an American woman yesterday who was proudly proclaiming that she hardly ever uses the internet and has never been in a chat room, played a game, etc… She was amazed at my admission that I love spending time online and I spend it all reading or posting things that I’ve written. Possible slogan: The Internet: It’s Not Just For Socially Inept Teenaged Boys Playing RPGs Anymore.
But for the past few days I haven’t been online much and yesterday I couldn’t get on at all. I haven’t been able to see my emails since Saturday. Liptinfor (my internet provider) is down and I don’t know when it’s going up again. They say they have people “working on it”. I suspect that what they did was send in a team of nice folks to speak to the server in an encouraging tone and build its self-esteem. Which is nice, but not very effective. I mean it’s been five days now!
What I have been doing with my days is spending time at Papiers, running errands, exercising and writing more than usual. Much more. Yesterday alone I wrote five pages. Single spaced. Which is not bad for a woman with four kids, a husband, three goats, a paper project and a life.
This is all good, but I am getting pretty frustrated, as so much is going on in Burkina right now! I’d love to be blogging about it daily and also be publishing the remainder of our Nanou village trip. But the internet thing is such a handicap. I’m posting this from a cybercafé that uses a different server. But it’s really busy here and not very convenient, compared to blogging from home.
But enough of me whining.
Here’s what’s up in Burkina: The “ville mort” strike planned for Wednesday in Ouaga didn’t happen. It was headed off by the government, which announced on Tuesday night that the National Assembly would be addressing the problem of the skyrocketing cost of living in Burkina. They would be discussing measures such as price controls on staples. The public was requested to not hold marches, shut down the city or vandalize property. And in Ouaga, it worked. Wednesday was a day like any other. But in the second-biggest city in Burkina, BoboDioulasso, and in Ouahiagouya, it was a whole different story. In both cases, the day started with marches and banners, but quickly degraded into vandalism and destruction. Smoke from tires burned by the protesters mixed with the tear gas the CRS riot police used copiously throughout the towns. The newspaper L’Observateur Paalga lists the final damage in Bobo as: “traffic lights destroyed, traffic signs torn down, windows broken, vehicles damaged, shops pillaged, gas stations attacked, small vending stands demolished, etc…” I heard on the radio that the rioters/protesters also destroyed two monuments in the city. No was was reported as killed but there were some serious injuries.
The newspaper was quite critical of the actions of the mobs. Here’s a rough translation of one very pointed paragraph: “This movement, that certainly paralysed normal activities yesterday in Bobo, would have been important, if the main point of demonstrations were to have delinquents and bad elements that don’t have anything better to do work off their frustrations in the city streets and demonstrate their lack of public-spiritedness. And tough luck for the Burkinabé taxpayer who will have to pay for all the damage done during the demonstration.”
So, two big cities in Burkina exploded into violence, but Ouaga remained completely calm. Let’s just hope that the trust of the folks in the capital is justified and the government really will try to control spiralling prices. Many basic foods and supplies have risen by up to 60% in the space of only one month! For example, a “plat” (a local measure) of corn that used to cost 250 cfa (about 40 cents US) now costs 400 cfa. The cheapest soap that people here use used to cost 125 cfa, but now the price is up by 40%. And so it goes down the line. And when you remember that the average person here lives on less than one dollar a day, the impact really sinks in.