A couple of days ago, I got two additions to my household in the form of chickens sent to me by the family of my guardien. I have a rooster and a hen, and hopefully soon eggs will appear. My rooster has an especially melodious call, which, I am happy to report, he waits until sunrise to begin sharing with the world.
By design, my bedroom is at the opposite end of the house from the space we have allocated to our feathered friends.
In addition to being New Year’s Day, January 1st was Raschid’s 5th birthday. So I went down to Djibi’s house to celebrate with his family. Raschid got a variety of toys of the Chinese electronic noise making- variety, including a parrot that sang and squawked and zipped about and (improbably, since by its coloration it was a male) laid eggs. Raschid was entranced. He likes music, and he can really dance. Here he is dancing with his Uncle Djibi.
The next morning, Djibi and I and his friend Drabo from Mali set off on motor scooters for the little village of Loumbila, where a friend of Djibi lives. The village is on the main road to the northeast from the city, and in principle the new airport of Ouagadougou will be out there some day. The proposed opening date was December, 2017, but since they have yet to break ground at the site one assumes that schedule won’t be observed. Ouaga needs a new airport; the current one is right in the middle of the city. In fact, as you pass through the big intersection near Djibi’s house, you can look right down the runway. When the landing lights are on at night it is a heck of a sight with the glide path lights shining right in your eyes. If a plane were ever to overrun the runway when landing from the north the results would be catastrophic. The only thing that’s happened so far on the construction job though, aside from the expenditure of very large sums of money, is a bunch of road work that is happening right in Djibi’s friend’s front yard. The road is being widened and in the meantime it is a dusty mess. The village is 13 km from the edge of town, and the airport will be another dozen kilometers further down the road. I guess they are expecting the city to grow in this direction.
We sat around under a tree with a little charcoal brazier and made glasses of hot super-sweet tea and talked money and government. Apparently, Djibi’s friend has a piece of land, except that his title is somehow uncertain. It is especially important because if they do end up building the airport out here, his land is going to become much more valuable. So apparently, people in the local land title registration bureau are either holding him up for a bribe or somehow screwing with his title in the interests of some more powerful (or deep-pocketed) claimant. It was quite the Sahelian village scene, though, talking and drinking tea as the local domesticated animals scavenged.
I take it from the presence of the pigs that the village is religiously mixed, something that happens quite a bit in Burkina without the bad effects that have been noted in other African countries. My friends are Muslims so when the pigs got too close they threw gravel. Down the road a bit towards the town is the home of a bunch of Catholic nuns, who have a restaurant and a bakery. I marked that down as a destination for a future bike ride.
The village has a quite large lake nearby, with (I am told) a bit of a beach you can swim from and jet skis for rent. Not that I would rent a jet ski, but it is a nice thought. When it gets hot as heck in a couple months, I might come back and try out the beach, too. And a few miles farther on there are rock carvings from the Paleolithic and Blaise Compaoré’s wildlife park, now open to the public for a modest bribe, I mean fee, to the guardians. Hopefully, they use the money to take care of the animals.
When we got back from Loumbila it was time for me to hop on my bike and head over to Todd Sargent’s house for a bit of American culture. This being New Year’s weekend, there are a ton of football games. My alma mater’s team, the Oregon Ducks, were playing in one of them. Unfortunately, the game started at 11:45 pm. Ouaga time, and even more unfortunately, when the game was over at 4:00 a.m., they Ducks had lost. So I had to ride home at dawn, when the curfew lifted, with the sour taste of defeat in my mouth. Oh, well, wait till next year.
Being out on your bike at 6 AM here is actually kind of nice. It is cold, noticeably so for somebody in short sleeves even if they come from Oregon, and there is almost nobody on the streets. Riding through the “changeur” cloverleaf, I was completely on my own, whereas usually it is a harrowing passage through big trucks, hurtling Mercedes, and plenty of bikes and motos.