Planes, Trains, and Automobiles…

27 03 2009

Well, there aren’t many of those around here in Burkina. Don’t feel sorry for us though, we have a surprisingly reliable public transportation. Welp, not really public. There are a few main companies here : TCV, Rakieta, STMB, and thousands of family owned bush taxis. As you would assume, the more “au village” you get, the fewer options to find. Bobo and Ouaga do have taxis and Ouaga a public-run bus system (similar to South Africa’s bush taxi system). Trains can be easily found in Ouaga and Bobo that go to Mali, Ghana, or Cote D’Ivoire. I’m really lucky because my village has a direct, pretty regular bush taxi from Banfora that does the Sabara (aka Nianko)-Banfora route in the morning and then the Banfora-Sabara route in the afternoon. Perfect for a day of running errands. Typically, once every week or two, I go to Banfora to stock up on supplies and use the internet. The first bush taxi to leave Sabara is at 7:30 so I normally hop on that and then take the 14:00 or 17:00 back home. Preference on the 14 when I don’t have so many errands to run because the 17:00 often leaves me walking home with huge bags when the sun is going down. My bush taxi is 2,000 cfa one-way which is actually pretty steep (~$4 USD) compared to the 1,300 cfa Banfora to Bobo ride. I know the Sabara drivers are concious of what a good customer I am and have even put up an American flag on the dash next to the burkinabe “drapo” in one of the vans.  That along with the fact that they constantly make references to me as their burkinabe “femme” should entitle me to a discount, right? I’ll work on that in the month to come….

The first time I took my village’s bush taxi, I was amazed at how easy and seamless the process was. No difficult get on, get back on mid-stops (though the formal “hitchhicking” method works really well here, you can easily just wait on the side of the road for a bush taxi to take you to the nearest trading town so there are those stops no matter what trasport you’re taking—even the Bobo-Ouaga tour buses stop to pick up villagers). The man that runs the bush taxi service from the Sabara side is one of the smiliest, nicest men. He originally saved a spot in the front of the bush taxi for me though I had to inform him that for safety reasons, I can’t ride anywhere near that huge front glass windshield. So instead, I started heading towards the back of the bus and of course that made everyone wrapped in fulanis stare at the crazy Sabara white girl (who they surprisingly may not have heard about yet).  The drive was so nice being able to see for the first real time all the neighboring towns (my initial  PC drive down was so anxiety ridden I had a hard time catching the village signs and taking account….market here…sindou there….dakoro school there). Everything was going really well and I was even greeting people when they got on the bus in Jula until yep……we got a flat tire. My first time, and there was a flat tire. Somehow, I was so unfamiliar with the situation that I had no clue whether to be angry, frustrated, worried, what. So instead of freaking out, calling PC (what do I do now?!),  I just took my French book out of my bag and started studying on a nearby dirt pile while all the other passengers stood watching the drivers assess the situation or went to relieve themselves in the  nearby bushes. I had enough time to cover a few pages of French for Dummies, check my clock and then low and behold in less than 10 minutes, another bush taxi had arrived to help not only give a spare tire, but put the thing on the front right tire. Then everyone got back on, no fighting over seats…..everyone just returning to their previously occupied seating. The rest of the ride was a breeze and I actually haven’t encountered a flat tire since (although once we hit a donkey cart).

PCVS in a Taxi on the way to a Fespaco movie

PCVS in a Ouaga Taxi on the way to a Fespaco movie




One response

11 04 2009
Uncle Stratton

You go girl!!! I think you are having an experience of a lifetime. I know your Mom and Dad are very proud of you. Just don’t come home with any babies!!!! Be safe, I love you.

Uncle Stratton

PS my email Is:

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