Monday, October 17, 2016

Chance encounters

Having slept off a horrendous headache, I got up to find something to eat.  The young guy running the hotel on the edge of town told me that the nearest place was back where I'd unceremoniously arrived from, about 3km the other end of town.  Without any transport or the back of a bike to ride on, I wasn't too keen walking there in the dark as the heavens had opened during the afternoon and there were large puddles all over.  However he kindly offered to go and find something for me, I sent him off with some money and he returned with a whole chicken and a bottle of beer.  Two problems to deal with now, I had a whole chicken that I wouldn't possibly be able to eat and a bottle of beer without a bottle opener.  My new friend took half the chicken to eat and gave me his knife to open the beer ... it was some knife, I was glad we were on talking terms!!!

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The knife - bottle top opener
The following morning I was up and ready for the Ouagadougou bus to pick me up from outside the hotel.  Due to leave the bus station at 8am, it was running late but I finally boarded pleased to be en route once more, aiming for a few days of rest in Banfora.  We headed for the border on a fairly rough road, the bus driver did incredibly well in the conditions and finally got us to the Ivorian border, Saturday 13th August I was sadly leaving Cote d'Ivoire once more via the Koguienou border!
Stunning countryside, tough road conditions from Doropo
Probably the third or fourth person to descend from the bus, I heard a massive shriek of my name from about 200m away ... it was the Anti-Drugs gendarme from the border at Tatiekro thrilled to see me again.  I went to get my passport stamped out of the country, the police surprised to see 'une blanche' at this little-used border who knew a senior officer were in a bit of a state by my presence! Consequently they stamped me 'IN' and gave me back my passport, I pointed their mistake out to them & within 30seconds I got an exit stamp and lots of signatures all over it!  I returned to talk to my favourite anti-drugs gendarme whilst waiting for the other passengers to clear immigration.

Bus to Ouagadougou at Koguienou
We set off again for the 4km or so to the Burkinabe border post, en route we picked up a young guy of 20 or so who got on & sat the other side of the aisle from me, staring at me intently.  He had been smoking quite a bit of weed I'd imagine, it was only 9am but I've never smelt so much marijuana from one person.  Descending at the border in Galgouli, I took my bags with me, I seriously didn't want anything planted on me at a border crossing.  On entering the police station where I'd be stamped into Burkina Faso, I saw an Ivorian car parked outside and two men inside who I presumed were in this car.  On entering I heard my name once more, it turned out one of them was a neighbour in Abengourou who knew me from a maquis where I often have an evening meal!  Within an hour I manage to meet two people who I've met before in a very remote part of West Africa.
Only transport out of Kampti
The other passengers were incredibly friendly and one man helped me when I asked where I should get off the bus to continue my journey to Banfora.  Kampti they all said!  30 minutes after the border I descended in Kampti where I was assured I'd find transport to Banfora.  I found the only transport in town which would take me as far as Loropeni, with 12 women sitting in the back of the pick up, I was offered a front seat with the driver in surprisingly comfortable conditions.

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