Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tabaski 2010

This morning, my cell phone went off before I was even ready to get out of bed. Since today is a holiday in Burkina Faso, I was really looking forward to sleeping in! But someone had other ideas. It turned out to be a message from my cell phone provider, Zain, wishing me a bonne fête d’Aid El-Kébir. I wish they’d have let me sleep in instead!

But since I was now awake, Kathy & I decided to commence celebrating the Muslim holiday of Tabaski (otherwise known as the Fête de Mouton here) by having a special cup of delicious, home-brewed Starbucks coffee while lounging back in our comfy IKEA chairs and reading a good book and magazine respectively. We’re not Muslims, but that’s no reason not to have a fun time on this holiday, is it?!!

Later on in the morning, when the caffeine had kicked in and I felt ready to face the day, I headed out in the truck to find some chicken wire and window screen. I don’t get much time at home these days, so the handyman work piles up and I need to do it when I get the chance... like today. Let me tell you, it was a great day to be driving the streets of Ouaga. Because of the holiday, there was hardly any traffic! Unfortunately, there were hardly any stores open either. Just my luck that 95% of the hardware stores in Ouaga are owned by Muslims! I finally found one that was owned by a Catholic :)

So I was able to get my window screens repaired this afternoon while listening to the bleating of nearby sheep and firecrackers going off in the neighbourhood.

Our night guard is a Muslim, so he has the night off to celebrate with his family, and I hired a replacement guard. A couple of weeks ago, he mentioned that he needed to buy a sheep for the celebration. At the time, they were going for around $50 and he wanted the money now because the price was only going to go up as the date got closer. So I loaned it to him. Last night he told me that additional family members had arrived from the village to say that they were going to celebrate Tabaski with them. So he needed more money to buy additional food supplies. I gave him an advance on his salary.

Well, Kathy & I are going to finish today’s celebrations with calzone for supper. In my opinion, that beats mutton any day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Chinese Night Market

Judging by how often I went there, I think that the place I liked most in Singapore (next to Starbucks, that is :) was the Chinese Night Market. I went there three times. It was colourful & lively, and a great place to get good food cheap and people watch.

This entire section of town was incredibly decorated. The streets, the buildings, and the market itself were all decked out in a variety of lanterns and other colourfully lit decorations. Looks like it was for a mid-autumn festival. Anyway, it made the whole area very attractive to tourists and I shot lots of pictures. At first I was hesitant to snap photos with all those people around, but when I realized how many times other people were taking pictures with me in them, I happily aimed my camera in their general direction and snapped away to my heart’s delight!

Strolling through the Night Market was a sensory delight. Lots of lights, lots of little shops selling all manner of different things, and lots of people. A lot of the shops sold clothing, shoes, fashion accessories, knick-knacks, or jewellery. One shop contained a money changer that I made use of a couple of times. All along one little street were restaurants and fast food places. Every time I went to the market, I grabbed a bite to eat at one of them.

The last time I was there, I was looking for an oriental hand fan to buy for Kathy. I went to several different shops and looked at what they had for sale, but was not happy with the quality. Some were cheaply made and I knew they wouldn’t last for very long. Others were easy to open, but hard to get closed again properly. Finally, one shop-lady must have seen me frowning as I tried out yet another unsatisfactory model. She said, “I have better quality ones in the back.” Following her towards the rear of her shop, I saw some beautiful models and was very impressed with how easily they snapped open and closed. I asked her what the difference in quality was. She said that the type of bamboo used was stronger, and the fan was of silk rather than paper or ordinary cloth. Mind you, the price was also significantly higher. But I figured that I’d rather cry once and gain something that lasts rather than cry several times later because I’d settled for a cheaper model. Besides, it wasn’t likely that I’d be coming this way again anytime soon! So I chose a nice one and bought it. On Kathy’s credit card.

(Just kidding! I used my own card :)