Sunday, October 07, 2007

More from Ouagadougou


Well, I've been doing a little sight-seeing, a lot of meeting and greeting, and even more ineffectual stuttering and stammering while trying to communicate.

I have no French language skills worth mentioning, but I have managed to master "bonjour" (good day, or hello), "bon soir" (good afternoon), "tout a l'heures" (see you soon), and "au revoir" (see you later). Bonjour or bon soir are often followed by "comment ca va?" which means "How are you?" The quick, courteous response is "Ca va," which means "fine."

In Burkina, when you greet someone you haven't seen in quite some time, you shake hands, with the right hand, and deliver 4 mock kisses, alternating each cheek. Variations on this greeting are legion throughout Europe and Africa.

Monolithic sculpture, downtown Ouagadougou
Ouaga has many sights to see. There is a large Catholic presence in the city. I have seen portraits of Pope Benedict (and even more of the universally-revered Jean Paul II). Maty was educated in a Catholic school, despite being Muslim.

I was treated to the sight of a goat being butchered for a wedding the other day. Not for the squeamish. The carcass was delivered to la maison Diop for Mama Diop to prepare for the next day.

Party goat
The wedding was a big party. Lots of drums and music.

Wedding drums
Guests arriving for the wedding
Maty and I went hiking with my brother-in-law Mor the other day. Hiking in Burkina is more like strolling in Oregon. The heat is powerful, and everything just slows down. Even a leisurely pace will have your shirt pasted to your body in no time at all.

African flora
Anyway, I was taking a few shots of the landscape when we happened upon a scenic view of swampy wetland. We were in a park very close to Ouaga and I imagined that we would be safe from any threatening African beasts. I edged my way close to the tall grasses that grew in the water in order to get the best camera angle I could. Just as I snapped my shot, Mor and Maty began pointing excitedly and insisting that they had just seen a crocodile! (Yes, they have crocodiles in Burkina.)

Was it a crocodile? I don't know. But I was convinced that the prudent course for me would be to put some distance between myself and the water rather than be mistaken for a tasty meat snack by some reptilian behemoth. I scrambled back up to the path, post haste.

Whatever it was, it never moved while I was watching. It may well have been a sodden log, or a rock. Here's the picture. Take a look and see what you think.

Harmless log, or wily gator?
We also saw an iguana, or something similar. And a couple huge termite palaces.

Big lizard
Termite colony
This trip is an experience I'll never forget. There are challenges: communication and climatization being the two primaries. My understanding of Africa has, of course, changed immensely.
Anyway, that's all for now. At some point, I might try to take a stab at the socio-economic realities here. We'll see...


sponge888 said...

doesn't look like a croc to me, but heck, I would've done the same as you. Better safe than croc food! Fun to hear your travel reports! Keep 'em coming - I live vicariously through your posts. :-)

Ridwan said...

Hey Dade I am too am enjoying your pictures from the comfort of a couch ;0)


I suspect that you will be keen to travel to the rest of our huge continent. 54 countries and counting!

It really is varied. West Africa is very different to East and Southern Africa, etc.

The common thread is not geography, climate, race or culture.

Colonialism/ne-colonialism is what draws us together.

But then again, colonialism draws us to other regions that suffered similar fates.

In all though, that there is a big continent full of differences.

Be well brother.