Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Trees, Roads and Markets....Burkina Faso style!

Hi there. I have been out of Niger for the past 10 days. Now we are back home, and in traditional Chantelle style I have way too many photos and stories. We had such a wonderful time in Burkina Faso, so much so that I decided to break it into a few blogs for your reading pleasure. I don't want any of you falling over from sheer reading exhaustion!

So this first one is looking at the road trip, the crazy Baobab trees, and the shopping of course!

Road trip!

We left early on a Saturday morning in a convoy with the Marineau family to make the trip to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, about 500 km southwest from us, for team meetings and retreat. Considering  we needed to stop at numerous tollbooths, two border stops, two customs stops, dodge animals, and numerous other potholes and lunch stops along the way, it took us about 8 hours to get there.

The amount of trucks waiting to get across the border was ridiculous. Apparently they are cracking down on overweight trucks. And guess what, they are all overweight and overloaded here! So since they don't want to pay extra fines or duty, they sit and wait. I am not sure what they are waiting for, but I think they intend to wait for a long time. They even have beds all set up!

Driving in Ouaga is much like Niamey, except that the streets seem cleaner, there is a noticeable lack of animals running wild, and there are waayyyy more motorcycles and bikes!

Check out all these bikes! They make it a hazard to drive. And I think there must have been a sale on khaki fabric.... (ok I know they are school kids...I am not that slow!)

The fine art of road stalls.


The markets and shopping!

I am not actually a big shopper. In Niger I haven't found any really good places to shop for souvenirs where you aren't over-run and hassled, which takes all the fun out of it. Here was a joy! I especially enjoyed the artisans market.

For the first time ever, I saw how batik is made. A bunch of stalls had people in the middle of the process, with canvas and wax and paint, making beautiful batik wall hangings. Some of the painters were very talented and I especially loved the ones that were a rich mix of oranges and reds.

A wide variety of African drums, calabashes, guitars, flutes and other things that made noise. No , I am not counting my children, they stayed back with Dad. We did buy Bennett a little music xylophone type thing though which he really likes.

One impressive place in the artisan market was the weaving looms. These ladies were working to weave together brightly colored yards of thread, sometimes mixing in shimmering gold or silver thread too, to make long scarves and table runners. Such beautiful fabric!


I thought of my necklace loving sister in law while I was here. There was a wide variety of beads, colors and styles to choose from. It was hard to weed it down to just one!


A fun lady selling all sorts of weaving. Joelle and I spent some time talking to her and bought our fill of stuff to bring back for gifts. She had fantastic handmade calabash tree ornaments that I especially liked. But check out all that work weaving straw!

And finally, I am not sure what this guy was selling, but if you need anything plastified, he's your man!



The trees!

As soon as we crossed the border into Burkina Faso, I started to notice these huge, towering trees rising up. Definitely more vegetation here than in Niger! What we happened upon was a belt of land blessed with the presence of an African icon- The Baobab tree.

This huge tree looks mostly dead, and its trunk looks thick and gnarled like the trunk of an elephant. I was amazed at their size! On our way to B.F. we stopped and had lunch under its branches.


The kids and Sophie made a chain around the tree to show how large it really is!




tree5_resize treetrunk1_resize


Road trip stats:

Number of broken down heavy freight trucks at the side of the road : 24

Number of tollbooths we went through: 8

Number of suicidal, chicken playing donkeys we almost hit : 5

Number of donkeys we DID hit : 1 ( a love tap on its rump after he wouldn't let us avoid  him)

Number of children who ran to us and stood around to watch us eat like we were a zoo display on our lunch stops: 12

Number of times we crossed the PRIME MERIDIAN on the trip: 2 (well I jumped back and forth a few times, but we won't count that)

Number of trucks lined up at the border trying to get past customs: we estimate approximately 250.

Number of times Bennett asked for snacks while driving: at least 12

Number of words Arielle spoke while we drove unless directly answering a question we asked her: less than 12

Number of times the border guards, customs officials or visa officers noticed that Bennett's passport had expired : 0 (Hallelujah!)

People who were happy to see their own homes and beds: 4 !!


Stay tuned for the next episode!


Anonymous said...

As always, your dialogue and pix are amazing...have to say I was impressed with your stats. heather

Larry Charter said...

Hello, Chantelle,
This is Larry Charter, former International Worker in Guinea and Cote D'Ivoire. Just wanted to say how RIGHT ON you were with your "When Methadologies Collide" blog. Oh how many times I saw this same kind of thing when we were in Africa. People are sometimes well meaning (I guess) but often completely off track to being culturally (and religiously) sensative. Oh how many times I had to go into villages and mop up after some group came in to "do evangelism their way". I would often plead with these groups to at least have the courteousy to consult us as carreer workers trying desperately hard to extablish friendships and connect with our dear African family. We would remain behind long after they had gone. Sadly, many were only there for a good photo op or to use their parachute in approach to raise the big $$$. At times it made me furious and completely skeptical of every group that came to visit our country.

May I assure you (and hopefully encourage you) that your frustrations are COMPLETELY justified and understood by myself and others who TRULY understand what it is to go cross cultural in ministry.

Have courage, dear friends. God can still unravel some pretty twisted up situations in life. Let's pray with you that He gives you wisdom for this one.

With grateful apppreciation,
Larry Charter
Cochrane, Alberta