I was out at the doctor’s this afternoon, about which more later, and when Djibi came to pick me up, he told me he had heard that there was a coup, and the president and prime minister had been arrested by the Presidential Guard. I thought this was what presidential guard units were supposed to prevent, but let’s not forget the Roman Praetorian Guard’s habit of making and unmaking emperors. He was about 15 minutes ahead of Reuters, which is now reporting the same thing.
Pretty much everybody else appeared to have heard the same rumor, because the roads were jammed coming back to my house. When I got here, I tried calling Brenda Soya at the embassy but her phone wasn’t answering. Probably had to turn it off because she is in the secure part of the embassy. Anyway, I don’t hear any firing and there were no roadblocks or anything like that so let’s hope it is just a misunderstanding or minor grievance that can be resolved with a little money and patience.
This, of course, for those of you who have followed my somewhat checkered career, is nothing unusual for me. Every country I went to had some such unpleasantness, although in Guinea it was the neighboring countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau) that had terrible things happen to them while Guinea itself just had some lively politics and a little tear gas thrown around our offices. But just being used to this sort of nonsense doesn’t mean that I’m inured to it.
Anyway, as I said, before I was so rudely interrupted by politics, I have been feeling pretty lousy the last couple of days and so I decided to give the Burkina Faso health system a whirl. Anyway, sparing you the details, I decided to go see a doctor. My friend Maty’s sister Mariatou knows somebody, so we first tried to call her, but when it turned out she was on vacation she referred me to a colleague, and I went this morning to get an appointment. When I call for an appointment to my doctor back home I sometimes have to wait a day or two, but Dr. Toguyeni could see me at 4:15. So at the appointed hour, I returned, to the very nice clinic you see here:
I paid 10000 CFA, which is about $17, way way less than an appointment with any physician would cost back home. I went into the waiting room, where there were about 10 or so fellow-sufferers with what appeared to be a variety of disorders, and I sat down and began to read my book (Les Grands Discours du Président Sankara). The clinic was clean, air-conditioned (whew!), the personnel wandering about looked clean and wore scrubs or white coats; much much better than any third-world medical facility I’d visited in my previous stays overseas. After about ten minutes, the doctor came in and called my name. I went in, he asked me a number of pertinent questions, he checked me out, giving an impression of competence and confidence in his ability to make me feel better, he gave me a prescription, and made a return appointment. And I was off, by 5:00. Just talking to the guy made me feel better. I sat outside with the parking guys eating peanuts from a street vendor for a few minutes until Djibi showed up, with his bad news about politics.
I hear some thumps and rumblings outside now though they might be thunder. Hopefully. Doesn’t sound like firing. Maybe rain will make people calm down a bit or at least go inside to do their politics.
For my Ingress-playing friends, here is a little image I got at Mariatou’s house the other night. The Smurfs (Ingress team) aren’t active here, but I have now seen a Smurf (doll):