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Ω2

Burkina Faso: A surprise that we loved!

   We were planning for quite some time to meet up with Stergios, who is traveling in Africa on his Vespa, and Liam, a guy from Great Britain who is traveling with Stergios on his old 90 cc moped. So, we made a detour, in order to narrow the distance between us and finally, it was close to the Ghanaian border when I saw two overloaded two-wheel vehicles coming towards us and I knew it was them! We pulled over and greeting one another took us some time… Meeting up was really unbelievable! We found a quite spot to wild camp and we spent two days there, talking endlessly about the experiences we had in Africa so far, as well as the next stage of our trip. We had so much to tell…

Incredible meeting with Stergios, who is traveling in Africa on his Vespa!

Incredible meeting with Stergios, who is traveling in Africa on his Vespa!

   After having bidden farewell to Stergios and Liam, not knowing if we would meet in Africa again, we headed southwest in Burkina Faso, while the guys entered Ghana, the country we had just left behind. Day by day we would realize that the northern winds blowing from the Sahara, the ones that drop the temperatures, were dying down. The hot season was about to start and the further we were moving into March, the more we could feel the heat wearing us out.

The weird rock formations in Sindou

The weird rock formations in Sindou

   In the country’s southwest we visited two sites, Sindou Peaks and Dômes de Fabedougou, both being peculiar rock formations. They were cool but nothing like Meteora in Greece! We were much more impressed by an old, deserted settlement, barely known but, in our opinion, much more important. It is situated near the village of Niansogoni, where the borders of Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali meet. Climbing up a hill, we suddenly found ourselves in front of a hidden rock facade. Inside its coves many huts out of mud were built! The natives inhabited these huts in order to be protected by both their enemies and the elements of nature. Inside the coves they would be protected from the sun as well as the rain. They would use some of the huts for housing, while in others they would cook or produce the local beer made out of millet. The supplies were kept inside huge earthenware jars, while in some huts we could see some kind of vault, where they kept the family’s valuables.

This deserted settlement was built out of mud in the facade of a rock, really isolated from the rest of the world.

This deserted settlement was built out of mud in the facade of a rock, really isolated from the rest of the world.

   While heading north, we were being hosted by many friendly locals that we met through CouchSurfing. Mohamed was one of them, a student longing for knowledge, dreaming of traveling all over the world while studying. Families in West Africa usually live in compounds of huts or buildings built around a communal yard. Naturally, three generations coexist inside these compounds, with the families consisting of ten to twenty people. There is, however, a nice atmosphere of collaboration and solidarity, even though arguments are not unknown during everyday life.

That's how a compound of huts in the countryside usually looks like, inside of which inhabits a large family together with their domestic animals.

That’s how a compound of huts in the countryside usually looks like, inside of which inhabits a large family together with their domestic animals.

   It was then when something inexplicable occurred… The tread of the rear tyre of my motorcycle was torn! Because of that the tube got punctured. Where we were it was impossible for us to find a new tyre. So, I had to replace just the tube, covering the torn spot of the tread from the inside with a double piece of an old tube, in order to protect the new one. As if that was not enough, in less than a hundred kilometers (62 miles), I ran over a huge bolt and the tube was punctured again! Happily, we always carry two spare tubes.

In just a hundred kilometers (62 miles) I replaced the tube twice!

In just a hundred kilometers (62 miles) I replaced the tube twice!

   Unfortunately, the torn spot of the tyre later became so wide that the tube was forming a bump out of the tyre! We were half way our route, so I was running out of choices… I deflated the tube slightly, in order to prevent it from hanging out of the tyre and tied a rope around this part, to protect the tube from touching the tarmac. This way we covered 80 kilometres (50 miles) and we arrived in Bobo-Dioulasso, the country’s second largest city. That’s where, after a lot of searching, I was able to find a tyre of proper dimensions.

We arrived in the capital with the most

We arrived in the capital with the most “African” name!

   Arriving in Ouagadougou, we were delighted to meet some friends of Akis Temperidis and Vula Netu, the Greeks who had travelled around the world on a Land Rover! That’s how we found ourselves being hosted by Georges and Connie, a couple that spent two years travelling in America and Africa on a Land Rover. It was really enjoyable hanging around in the evening, exchanging stories from our travels and even organizing screenings of the videos we have made from the African countries we have visited so far.

Akis and Vula's sticker stands still proud on Georges and Connie's car!

Akis and Vula’s sticker stands still proud on Georges and Connie’s car!

   We spent the International Women’s Day in Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso is one of the countries that this day is vividly celebrated. Contrary to the rest of the year, this day it is men who go to the market and they are always surprised to find out how hard it is to do the grocery shopping with the little money that they usually give to their wives for this purpose.

   We were thrilled to attend the celebrations of the A.M.P.O. organization, where Connie volunteers. We saw many women that this active organization rescued out of poverty. Many of them had been orphans when in their childhood, others had been pregnant without being married, something that led them out of their family, some had been abandoned by their husbands, while quite a few of them were infected by AIDS or other illnesses. The organization, founded by Katrin, a German living in Burkina Faso the last 23 years, uses people’s donations, not to spread money around, but to train the locals in need and help them improve their lives based on their own skills.

Celebration of International Women's Day at the A.M.P.O. organization.

Celebration of International Women’s Day at the A.M.P.O. organization.

   There, we were really surprised to meet a Greek doctor living in Germany, who, through his medical association, visits many developing countries, operating voluntarily the ones in need. He is retired now, but he used to be a director in many hospitals in Germany. Once he was summoned by the Greek embassy to work in Greece and he was assigned to the A.H.E.P.A. Hospital. He didn’t stand the situation more than fourteen days! When he found out that it takes a bribe to get proper treatment, while doctors don’t give a damn about whether people live or die, he informed his supervisors that he was not willing to practice medicine in such an immoral way and he returned to Germany. That’s so typical… Whoever is honest enough not to knuckle under corruption sees self-exile as the only way to stay moral. Then, who are the ones who stay in Greece? They are the corrupted ones and some few romantics who stand up, dedicating their lives to a heroic struggle in order to make things better.

The traditional huts in the village of Tangassogo are known for their distinct architecture.

The traditional huts in the village of Tangassogo are known for their distinct architecture.

   When we finally had all the essential visas in our passports, we reluctantly bid farewell to Georges and Connie and headed to the south of the country. We really wanted to visit the villages of the Gourounsi tribe, which are famous for the architecture of their huts. There are no windows, in order to protect the interior from the sun, while the outer facade is embellished with distinct symbols. The openings are low and the main entrance is protected from inside by a short wall. This way, when an intruder would force his way into the hut, entering by ducking was enough for him to end up decapitated before having his vision accustomed to the darkness of the hut.

That's how a typical hut of the Gourounsi tribe looks like: no windows, low entrance and symbols embellishing the exterior.

That’s how a typical hut of the Gourounsi tribe looks like: no windows, low entrance and symbols embellishing the exterior.

   After an entire month in Burkina Faso, we took the dirt roads leading to Togo. We left one more country behind us, having acquired beautiful experiences and having met interesting people…

 

Here you can watch the video about our trip in Burkina Faso:

Soundtracks (music from Burkina Faso):
Farafina – Bi Mousso
Farafina – Lanaya
Farafina – Hereyo Mibi
Victor Démé – Sabu

 

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