Actually, I have great help. If it weren’t for the help, I don’t know how I’d make it here. No doubt I would find a way but it sure is easier having some backup. Djibi has been more than kind and I am looking for a reward for him, more on this later. Bousso, Maty’s sister, has been hired as my housekeeper (which she subcontracts from time to time to Hadjara, her own housekeeper – I misspelled her name yesterday) and is also providing food. And I have a night watchman, who works for a security service for which I am going to have to pay. So I am surrounded by helpers.
Djibi and Bousso showed up this morning about 10:00, with Bousso’s daughter Safi. Bousso started in to clean the house, which turned out to be an all-day job. Djibi and I went off looking for a bike, which was also an all-day job that now has bled into next week.
We went first to a supermarket, obviously one aiming at an expat clientele. They had a couple of bikes but nothing big enough for a grownup. The best option there was a ten-speed mountain bike, nearly big enough, for about 150 bucks. There were several stands in the market we went to next, where a few Chinese one-speeds were on sale for about 90 bucks or so. This is what you see people riding in the streets and since as I have said the whole city is entirely flat, I was tempted. But nobody seemed to have bike helmets and I am surely not going to ride here without a helmet. Finally, somebody directed us to a vendor near the marketplace who actually specializes in mountain bikes. He had the helmet and what looked like a couple of 300-dollar mountain bikes, brand X from Taiwan. He started at 325,000 FCFA, which is about 500 bucks. I know that imported things are expensive here, but this seemed a bit of an exaggeration. I finally got him down to 250,000 with the helmet thrown in (that is, about $425). I told him I needed the weekend to think about it. I am going to call the Peace Corps on Monday if I can’t catch up with somebody over the weekend and see if there is anything they can do or if they can give me some advice anyway.
My phone wasn’t charging. The battery loses its charge within a few hours without really doing anything. We went back to the market cell phone guys, and they sold me a new battery for 15 bucks, again a bargain and presumably therefore somewhat suspect. Anyway, I think I am going to buy a new cell phone. I’ll get one with two SIM card slots so I can have two numbers and switch back and forth depending on which network is working, like everybody else does. The guy who sold me the battery is also selling a “Samsung” 8MB smart phone with 3G and all for like 125 bucks, again, somewhat suspect. Even if it is knockoff, so long as it works for a year I’m happy. And then I can give this troublesome old Samsung Galaxy II that I have invested so much money and time in to Djibi and I’m sure he’ll be happy.
I woke up this morning with, of all things, a cold. Or allergies, I don’t know. But my nose was stuffed up and I feel somewhat feverish, anyway weak and pretty tired. Could be because I didn’t sleep well last night.
So here are some pictures of Ouaga street scenes:
This is the main mosque downtown. It was prayer time and they had the whole street blocked off because there was a huge crowd. Nobody seemed to mind that I took a picture; I asked one of the security guards first. There is a very nice new mosque down the street paid for by the Saudis, but everybody calls it the “Wahabi” mosque and my friends, anyway, don’t go. I do see girls running around town in the big black robes, though.
And this is the “Rond Point Nations Unies”, the United Nations roundabout, right next to where the cell phone repair guys were. When we were there, there was a guy preaching a sermon on the street corner. All the vendors were pretty calm about it even though they are almost all Muslims.