Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Break in Burkina

“This tastes simply awful,” Kathy grimaced after putting another chunk of hamburger into her mouth. “Here, try it!”

I looked at her in amusement and disbelief. “Are you serious?” I asked. “You’re telling me something tastes like crap and then you want me to actually try it?!!!” I laughed and shook my head. “No way, José!”

Disappointed that we hadn’t been able to get a day off in Banfora like we’d planned, we decided to take a day off at a pool somewhere in Ouaga. You know, do some swimming to cool off, lounge around with some magazines and books, eat a good meal that required someone ELSE to slave over a hot stove in hot season. But we didn’t want to go to the pools downtown in case more trouble started there. And we didn’t want to go to the pools in the south end of the city because they were too close to an army base and the presidential palace, both of which had been scenes of unrest recently. The Silmandé in the north end had a nice pool, but the food prices were astronomical. So we settled on the Ricardo, just down the road from the Silmandé.

The owner told us to make sure our vehicle was locked up tight in the parking area. “Had soldiers in here the other day,” he informed us. “They shot their machine guns into the air and demanded the keys to the vehicles outside. Fortunately, I wasn’t here, so the staff just had a key to the utility truck. The soldiers grabbed the truck and took off.” We locked our truck up tight. And I told Kathy to take the vehicle’s papers out of the glove compartment and put them in her purse so we’d have proof of ownership if it somehow was taken.

Picking a poolside table, we first ordered breakfast: Nescafé, ham & cheese omelettes, bread, and orange juice. The coffee was drinkable, but the orange juice tasted diluted, and the omelettes weren’t cooked right through. The cheese in them was pretty sharp stuff. I told Kathy that they had better omelettes at the Koulouba. She agreed but pointed out that we were not having breakfast at the Koulouba.

After that, some expatriates sat down at the table next to us. They were loud and smoked. Guess which way the wind was blowing? We moved to another table as far upwind as we could.

Following several hours of swimming, talking, and reading, we ordered lunch.  I ordered a fish dish.  Kathy ordered the deluxe hamburger.  No bun.   Kathy had eaten one patty and was into the second when she came out with the comment at the beginning of this post. “It’s like chewing rubber and about as flavourful,” she continued. “There’s no seasoning, no spices, no marinade, nothing. A sad excuse for a hamburger if I ever saw one!” She lathered the remainder in ketchup but even so was not able to finish it. I offered her some of my excellent fish dish, but she declined. Those of you who know her know why :)

About 3 p.m., a whole crowd of young Burkinabè men and women arrived. We figured that some local university or college classes must have gotten out, and the young folks came here to cool off. Pretty soon, they were yelling, running, diving, and splashing up a storm. We waited long enough for the pages of my book to dry out a bit before deciding to call it a day.

I had just enough time left to change the oil in our generator back at the house before it got dark... and the power went out... again.

Pretty hard to beat that for an Easter break, eh? :P

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