Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pardon me Rach,
Is that the Ouagadougou choo-choo?
Although the train network throughout Burkina Faso is limited due to the political crisis in neighboring Ivory Coast, we couldn't resist the reference above.
The last time we wrote we had just finished our Dogon Country trek in Mali and have been in Burkina Faso ever since. Though the world's third poorest nation, Burkina has delivered lasting memories of hungry hippos, an unlimited supply of pastis, an unforgettable day of motorbiking and some of the finest tailored clothing in Africa.
Ouagadougou (pronounced waga-doo-goo and commonly known as "Ouaga"), the capital of Burkina Faso and the coolest named city in the world, is a fairly laid-back locale with scorching temperatures, plenty of mango vendors and horrific air quality. There's not much for sights, however we were impressed by the National Music Museum and a darn good pizza joint. Did we mention the poor air quality? This photo was taken at 9.15 AM the day we left Ouaga for the more tropical part of Burkina Faso in the south of the country. The sky, as well as our throats and eyes, began to clear up about 120 miles out of town.
One of the highlights of our time in Burkina Faso has been making friends with fellow travellers. We hadn't met many other travellers since we landed in Africa over three months ago, primarily because there aren't too many of us down here. We met Caroline and Patrick in the courtyard of our hotel in Ouaga. They are both from Quebec, Canada and have been travelling for over two years. They recently finished a volunteer project in Morocco and are now setting up a new project in the sugar cane fields of Burkina Faso. You can read about their life and adventures on their fantastic website: Above is a photo of our newest travel friends, Abra and Gavin. We met these fun Canadians as we waited (and waited and waited) for a bush taxi to Bandiagara, a gateway town to Mali's Dogon Country. We later bumped into them at a police station in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, where they were waiting, like us, for visa extensions. We coincidentally found ourselves on the same bus headed for Banfora, Burkina Faso and rented bicycles together the following day to visit Lake Tengrela, a popular place for hippo sightings. And...we saw a whole family of hippos! Our fearless pirogue driver navigates Lake Tengrela in search of the deadly and "hungry-hungry" hippos.
After our successful search for hippos, we settled under a mango tree for a picnic lunch. This young boy enthusiastically climbed a neighboring tree and gathered at least fifteen mangoes for dessert. After the five mile return bike ride in the gruelling afternoon heat, we found a local watering hole with shots of pastis for 50 CFA (about 10 cents). We spent the rest of the day, and a good chunk of the night, cooling off and getting more acquainted with each other...and our bottle of pastis.
The following day, we traded our pedals for motors. It was the first time either of us had dared to take control of a motorized bike and it was fantastic! After the initial anxiety of navigating the chaotic streets of Banfora on our way out of town, we had an absolute blast visiting waterfalls and being chased by screaming children through the sugar cane fields and remote villages of southern Burkina Faso.

Here we are on our trusted "Peugeot P50 Junior" motorbikes. Not exactly motocross, but we felt quite hardcore nonetheless.

These waterfalls were a very welcome contrast to Africa's arid landscapes.

After our time in the Banfora region visiting the hippos, waterfalls and sugar cane fields, we returned to Bobo-Dioulasso for some last minute shopping before our departure from Africa. One thing we both wanted was some tailor-made clothing. Burkina Faso is well-known for its talented tailors and unlimited selection of beautiful African fabrics.

This expert tailor handles his antique Singer sewing machine like a true pro.

The proprietor of our preferred tailor shop (Wassa Couture) and an ever demanding client take a pause between fittings and alterations.

Our time in Burkina Faso has been an excellent finale to over three months in Africa. The contrast in landscape was startling and we were glad to be in a lush and tropical setting after weeks of barren, arid horizons. We are currently back in the capital city of Ouagadougou and will say good-bye to "L'Afrique" in the middle of the night as we fly off to the next stage of our travels in the south of France.

A final shot of a typical Burkinabe street scene.

Thank you for visiting Donkey Crossing! Feel free to leave a comment and say hello, as we always like to know who's visiting our website and what you think.



Blogger dizz said...

I've been wanting to comment for ages but have been a bit shy so your invite has prompted me. I got your blog link from my good friend Andy (who you knew in Mexico?) and have been an avid reader ever since.

I work in a library so the day-to-day stuff is pretty monotonous; I love coming in on a morning and reading about all your adventures. Most of all I love your enthusiasm and total immersion into each culture that you visit, I feel like I'm with you every step of the way!

Thanks for letting me travel with you both,

5:06 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I spent this morning catching up on your travels, and I'm sure I'm not the only one living vicariously through you two!

stay safe and keep the incredible photos and updates coming...


2:25 PM  

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