Monday, September 8, 2008

Back in Burkina!

We’re back in Burkina at last! I’m sitting in our little house in the suburbs of Ouagadougou, in a foam padded wicker chair, under a ceiling fan, trying to keep my heat level down to a point where I can still function somewhat comfortably. My laptop is sitting on my lap, also trying to keep it’s heat level down by resting on top of a cooling pad with two electric fans run by power from one of my laptop’s USB ports. The temperature this evening is 31°C and the humidity is 82%. If it wasn’t for the fan, I’d be soaked in sweat by now. In fact, this afternoon when I was cleaning the inside of our truck, I was thoroughly drenched. The most annoying part was all the sweat that kept running into my eyes and onto my glasses. I should have brought some headbands along! Kathy is reading in the bedroom. We’ve got an air conditioner in there. Otherwise we’d have a hard time getting a decent night’s sleep.

Outside, our Muslim night guard is making his evening tea after prayers. We have three guards here in Ouaga: a day guard, a night guard, and a replacement guard (in case one of the other two can’t make it or has holidays). While our guards will not deter a serious thief with a gun, not having a guard is the equivalent of inviting passersby to come into our courtyard (over the wall, of course) and help themselves to whatever they can find, as well as try to get into the house. Since we’re seen as rich westerners, we’re more likely to be targets for thieves and have to take appropriate precautions.

In addition to the guards, our house has several steel doors, metal louver windows, and ornamental metal grills over the glass windows at the front to keep uninvited visitors out, especially at night when the guard tends to sleep (the previous tenant had a night guard who had thieves come over the wall and steal his motorcycle from right beside him while he was sleeping!). We also have glass windows behind the metal louvered windows to keep out the heat and dust that inevitably come through the louvers.

Our house was clean when we arrived since Kathy had made arrangements to have it cleaned before we came. But after a succession of tenants who had rented the place for various periods of time during our absence, things had been rearranged somewhat and termites had gotten into some of our wardrobes (we don’t have built-in closets like in Canada, just big wooden cupboards built in one corner of each bedroom) and belongings. And although we’d packed things up, we couldn’t remember where anything is anymore. Looking on the bright side, unpacking after three years away will be just like Christmas!

I spent this afternoon cleaning the inside of our truck for the second time. No one had been looking after it for the past several months and it was a mess, filthy both inside and out. Well, the exterior situation was quickly rectified with a good washing by our night guard. The inside was a different story. Somehow, it had gotten damp enough inside that mould was growing on the backseat and even on the interior vinyl of the doors and cabin floor! I ended up pitching the seat covers, taking out the backseat entirely, vacuuming up the dirt (with a 12V car-vac), and washing everything with soap and water twice. It looks almost brand new now, although we’re still not sure how we’re going to get the mould out of the backseat.

Hey, it looks like it might rain soon. That will be wonderful because although it will make the mud road to our place even messier, it will certainly help cool things down.

Once we get things organized in the house, I’ll take a video and post it on YouTube for you to see.

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