Jason (+ Bike in Europe / - Bike in West Africa) travel blog

Transport from the border

Photographing the photographer (photographing chicken butchers)

Jason with vultures

Start: GHANA

End: Ouagadougou, BURKINA FASO

Weather: Warm & Sweaty

It was a short walk across 'No Man's Land' to Burkina Faso immigration and my boy guide continued to carry my bag on his head. I ignored a battered, old car posing as a taxi and then the tourist leech on a moped who tried to convince me that I needed to take the car. I wanted to keep my bag with me until after Burkina Faso customs and I was also certain that there would be cheaper shared transport available once I had cleared the border.

Immigration officials looked at my passport then wrote my details in a book. There was no form to complete and no bag check, so it was a very quick entry into Burkina Faso where I found a minibus waiting to take me all the way to Ouagadougou for 5,000CFA (~Oz$12.50). My boy guide graciously received most of the Cedis (12,000 ~Oz$2) left in my wallet as a tip and I was on my way to the capital of Burkina Faso.

The minibus traveled at 60km/hr through desert scenery that reminded me of the north-west of Western Australia. It was warm & sweaty and I was thirsty, as well as hungry because I hadn't eaten. I had hoped to buy travel food along the way, but no vendors approached the minibus when we stopped. I drank the can of coke that had been in my possession since Kumasi, which kept away the hunger pangs until I was finally able to buy some bananas then slices of watermelon and then some bread.

The minibus seemed to be struggling and stopped at a bicycle repair shack to have a tyre pumped up & then at another shack to refuel from bottles of petrol (that originally contained whiskey and other spirits). Even so the minibus slowed until it was only doing 40 km/hr and a night-time arrival in Ouagadougou seemed inevitable.

It was dark when I arrived. Too dark to see clearly and too dark to think clearly. I was steered into an over-priced taxi by a man from the minibus who spoke English (I think his angle was a commission and a free ride). I had some difficulty explaining my destination as both accommodation options had French names, but eventually it was agreed to take me to the Hotel la Rose de Sables for 2,000CFA (~Oz$5).

As we set off I asked to go via a bank ATM, so I could get money to ensure that I could pay for both the taxi and the hotel. The first ATM wasn't working, the second wouldn't accept my Visa card, but the third dispensed the small amount of CFAs that I requested.

The taxi then took me to my intended destination, the Centre d'Accueil des Souers Lauriers at the Catholic Cathedral. Obviously the confusion over my accommodation choices hadn't been clearly concluded, but at least I was at my preferred option.

I went inside the Centre grounds and confirmed that there was room then returned to the taxi to collect my bag and pay. The taxi driver demanded 3,000CFA because of the ATM detour. I wasn't impressed! The detour had been a short distance and I knew that 2,000CFA was already more than the usual fare. My argument wasn't receiving any support, so I paid 3,000CFA and stormed off.

To add to my frustration when I crossed the Centre grounds to reception, I was told they were full. Fortunately, a guest told me there was another place nearby and the boy who told me that there was room, and who was now clearly distressed that I was annoyed that there wasn't room, offered to lead me there.

After a nervous few minutes wandering through dark alleys following a boy who wasn't too sure where he was going, the Auberge Samaratain appeared. The price at 6,700CFA (~Oz$16.75) was the highest cost for accommodation to date, but it was late & dark and I was glad to be off the city streets, so I graciously took the room. I also offered the boy a small monetary gift (1,000CFA, the smallest note) for helping me (unlike the taxi driver and his accomplice who preyed on me), but he seemed embarrassed and declined to accept it, asking instead that we exchange addresses, which we did.

I was exhausted! I drank a beer in the mosquito-infested garden courtyard then skipped dinner and went to bed.

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