Monday, April 26, 2010

An Evening at the Paradisio

This past Friday was a long, full day for both Kathy & I, and she didn’t feel much like cooking something when it was already well past supper time, so we decided to eat out. We went to a place only a few kilometres from our house called the Paradisio. It’s basically an outdoor eatery beside one of the main roads in the Zone de Bois, not far from the International School of Ouagadougou where Kathy teaches a health course to Grade 9 students. Normally, we wouldn’t eat at an outdoor eatery at this time of year because it’s the hot season and even night-time temperatures are too hot for a pleasant evening outside. But it must have rained somewhere the night before because compared to the rest of the week, Friday was pleasantly cooler.

For parking, you have to find a spot somewhere along the side of the road, paying attention to pedestrians, bicycles and motos when you go to pull off, and again before you open your door to get out of the vehicle. There is a parking attendant who comes to welcome you, assure you that he’ll keep an eye on the vehicle, and help you across the busy street, but you know he can’t effectively watch everything, so we make sure the truck is well-locked up before we leave it.

The Paradisio consists basically of a kitchen area and an outdoor eating area. The eating area is filled with metal tables and chairs with thin padding. Some are under hangar with fans, while others are out in the open air. The ground consists of crushed stone, which makes for an interesting process of settling in your chair. It takes a bit of shifting and wiggling around before you find the perfect position :)

Apart from the ambient light from the street and from the little shop selling local “objets d’art” that forms part of the restaurant’s assembly of buildings, there isn’t much light to see by. So when the waiter brings the menus, I end up pulling out my cell phone and turning on the little LED flashlight it comes equipped with. He goes to get us some cold drinks while we decide what to order in the way of food.

When it comes to food, Kathy & I like to order several different dishes and share them rather than each having our own plate. We often like to start off with a salad. This is not something we’d advise the average newcomer to do because it can be a quick way to get sick if the ingredients haven’t been cleaned properly or done so with filtered water. But our systems seem to have gotten used to it to some degree. At least we’ve not gotten sick in a long while from salads. Our favourite at the Paradisio is a salad made of sliced tomatoes with slices of mozzarella cheese on them, all bathed in olive oil.

For the main course, we get a pizza (very thin crust, Lebanese style) and a couple of beef shish kabobs, along with a plate of green beans and onions, to share.

While we’re waiting for our food, we talk and watch the world go by. Just outside the restaurant’s perimeter are ambulant vendors selling a variety of things, each trying to catch the attention of the clients inside. Several are selling phone cards (all cell phones work with prepaid cards here). One is selling pirated DVDs. Another is selling spears with wooden shafts and long, flat metal heads. Across the street, some young girls are playing a skipping game with a rope made of clear plastic bags all tied together. More people arrive to eat, while from time to time a few get up and leave, having finished their meals, their drinks, or their conversations.

At one point, a man walks by from the kitchen area with a small stack of pizza boxes. He makes his way to the street where a moto is parked with a metal box attached to the rear carrier. He opens the box, puts the pizzas inside, and then closes it again. Climbing on the bike, he kicks it to life, pulls a U-turn in the street and motors off down the road. The Paradisio is one of the few restos in Ouaga that has a delivery service, though I always wonder how they can find addresses here. Many streets have no signs and homes don’t have house numbers like we do back in North America. I can’t imagine being able to give someone directions on how to get to our place without them getting lost, especially at night, and during a power cut when all is pitch dark! By the time he found us, the pizzas would be cold! (Figuratively speaking that is :)

There have been a few times when we’ve wanted to just eat a pizza at home, and I’ve gone out and gotten it, having to wait while they made it, of course (I often make use of that time to write text messages to my friends). But generally speaking, it’s more fun to go out to a place like the Paradisio or the Verdoyant to eat, provided it isn’t too hot outside. Otherwise we’d have to look for a place with air conditioning, and they tend to be more expensive. One place we know even charges different prices for the meals, depending on whether you sit outside to eat, or inside with the A/C!

Finally, our plates empty and our glasses dry, we signal the waiter for the bill (if we didn’t, they’d just let us sit there and talk until closing time). After paying, we leave a tip for the waiter and cross the street to our truck. The parking attendant is nowhere in sight, so we pull away without paying him his small fee. Like I said, I didn’t think he could watch everything effectively.  I was able to steal my own truck!  :)

Another pleasant evening at the Paradisio.

1 comment:

Haze said...

Hi Mike and Kathy,
Stumbled upon your blog, and have enjoyed it very much - we are moving from Rwanda to Burkina in September, so its been great to see some experiences that are Ouagadougou based (rather than Peace Corps).

Perhaps we'll run into each other - or I can tap into your network if I need a tiler!