Sunday 25 Oct
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
We arrived in Ouaga ("Waga" for non-francophones) with a whole lot of expectations (the "Ouaga List") about what we would accomplish and enjoy here. Some of them have been successful, but as Jo is still recovering from ongoing illness, there has been a lot of sitting around eating bread and butter (both of which were immensely exciting after being forced to consume Ghanaian bread which was usually wispy and sickly sweet). We discovered a supermarket, which was also immensely exciting. There was wine and cheese, and all sorts of other things we had forgotten about.
A new and troubling experience in Ouaga is the excessive persistence of hassles from prospective guides/musicians/whatever. There seems to be a mentality which assumes that I am searching for an opportunity to stop everything I'm doing and have a long personal conversation with someone who assails me in the street, culminating in me paying him for sharing his immense wisdom in helping me with whatever I want to do in the town. If I appear less than enthusiastic about having these conversations I cause great offence and it is explained to me that "in Africa, you have to communicate with people", and that I am in too much of a hurry and I won't learn anything. It's surprisingly difficult to talk your way out of these situations while also trying to appear as disinterested as possible.
But on the whole Ouaga is an agreeable city with just enough veneer of expat facilities to make our stay reasonably comfortable. Of course the point of being here is to get organised to move on to somewhere else. Getting a Malian visa turned out to be ridiculously easy as the man behind the desk was so nice he couldn't bear to make us come back in the afternoon to collect our visa and he did it on the spot. Soon there won't be any excuses left for hanging around.