Sunday, July 25, 2010

Trip to Koudougou - Part 5

After all the sitting and bouncing in the minibus, Kathy & I decided to go for a bit of a walk to stretch our legs and get some exercise. Walking anywhere in Burkina is always fills us with a bit of apprehension because of the generally unwelcome attention we tend to attract. As whites in an otherwise brown population, we draw more than our fair share of stares, comments, and even followers and hangers-on that pester us for our phone numbers, address, and money. It’s difficult to have a quiet, peaceful walk to just enjoy the sights and each other’s company. Experiences along these lines have given me some understanding of what movie stars and rock stars must have to endure. They’ve also given me a fresh appreciation for the anonymity we sometimes enjoy in Canada!

One time when we were out for a walk after supper in Canada, I grabbed Kathy’s arm and stopped. “Look around,” I said. “What do you see?” She looked around and then up and down the residential street we were strolling along. “Nothing!” she said. “Exactly!” I exclaimed. “Isn’t it wonderful? Nobody’s following us, nobody’s pointing at us, and nobody’s staring at us! Nobody even cares that we’re here!” Ah, in a world where so many people are looking to be noticed, anonymity can sometimes be a blessing. Sure, we all need recognition, but unwanted attention is an entirely different thing!

Our walk in Koudougou turned out to be not bad at all. We left the hotel and walked along the main drag in the moto and bicycle lane for a while, turning around occasionally to see what was coming up behind us and make sure we didn’t get run over or clipped by a passing cyclist or motorist. Walking past small shops and outdoor eating places, we garnered a few stares and comments. In most cases, we just politely greeted people in passing. After some distance, we turned and walked along the edge of a small vegetable market where ladies were selling various types of produce. Then it was a stroll down a back street before coming up on the hotel again from the rear.

By now, it was about 6:30 p.m. and Aristide suggested we get some supper. He had the hotel kitchen preparing rice and sauce, but thought we should go out and get some meat to go with it. A roasted leg of mutton was what he had in mind, so us guys hopped in the minibus again and cruised the streets looking for a place to buy this. We stopped at one place that looked hopeful, but Aristide refused to buy anything there, saying that the way they chopped up and cooked the meat was too unsanitary. He was afraid it would make us sick.

Eventually, after some time of searching, we found exactly what we wanted on a back street off the main road. I drove just past the place and then stayed in the vehicle while the guys went and negotiated the price because my white skin was sure to make the price go up significantly :) Mission accomplished, I managed to do a 180 in the street without running over any pedestrians or bicycles or motos traveling without lights (not an easy thing on an otherwise dark street!) and we headed back to the hotel.

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