Saturday, July 23, 2011

We have moved!!

Still in Ouaga, but we moved into town (Koulouba neighborhood). We were able to switch houses with a family that needed more room and although we had a lovely (and HUGE) house, i was tired of cleaning all 7 bathrooms. now we only have 2 bathrooms - shocking i know. 

I actually moved a few weeks ago and have been saving up photos, but i wanted to tell Otto in person because i knew he would be very sad about moving out of our neighborhood because he has a couple of very good friends that live close by. He took it very well (helps that he now has another couple of good friends close by to our new place). we are closer to his school and we can walk to shops, restaurants and to our friend's house who has a candy closet - and Otto does love candy.

The house is exactly what i envision when thinking about a house in Africa. we have a lovely yard with big flowering bushes and trees, produce growing here and there, a much nicer pool and an outdoor patio area.  the house is smaller, but still 3 bedrooms and an office. the kitchen is very quaint.  i am already so much happier in the past few weeks knowing that i have a home that i really like to go to every day after work. it is much better for Jackson (our new dog) as well to have plants to sniff and grass to roll in.

coolest flower i have seen in a long time!!

Our cute little kitchen. guess i should have washed the dishes before i took the picture...
Eggplant is growing randomly around the yard, i was surprised and delighted to discover this and it is very yummy
The plant in the center of this frame is all basil. this is the back side of the house and i was out there one day walking from the laundry room that is near by and i got a huge whiff of basil...that's when i figured it out.  i have never seen it grow so prolifically before.  I will have to start making homemade 'Burkinabe basil' pesto. if i sell enough, maybe it can fund my next trip to Paris :)
What home garden in Africa doesn't have banana trees. these should be just about ripe when Otto and I get home from our vacation. we also have a huge mango tree (good for Otto, not so good for me) and a custard apple tree. i am sure i will discover other thing growing that we can eat the longer we live there.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sporting in Burkina Faso

Finally got to go the famous bike market today - where you can find a lot of things, some hidden treasures even.  as always the Burkinabe are friendly, honest, gracious. where do these people come from - they live in this hot, land-locked, poor country and if you were to drop some money on the ground, they would chase after you to give it to you.

i also learned today why biking is so big here. the former president (Sankara) decided to give his seal of approval and support to a bike team (touring) long ago and ever since then biking is a huge national sport. i remember my amazement the first time i saw a Burkinabe pelleton (fancy bikes and bright colored shirts/shorts included) racing by on the outskirts of the city.  there is even a 'Tour du Burkina' that takes the riders all across the country (i think it lasts a few weeks...but i could be making that up). what is even more amazing is that many of the roads here are dirt or in very bad shape and here these guys are riding on those skinny tires. so much to love about this place.

here are a couple of photos from the market - hard to photograph the essence of the place. one of my colleagues got a great cross bike for $140. we were all ready to bargain hard, but when the shop owner's first asking price was $150, it seemed dishonest on our part to take a reconditioned Trek bike for much less.

Mechanic for the national team. working on one of their very nice bikes.
 Wanted to throw in a few more photos from the Banfora trip. these are the beautiful rocks.  reminded me a lot of a small version of Red Rocks Nat'l park just outside of Las Vegas. exact same sandstone rock.
this is a good bouldering problem and nice photo op, too bad i only had my running shoes on

this is at Sindou Peaks, the center area, with cliffs surrounding, has been used for movie sets

dont you just want to climb this...

and this...The Domes. i actually think the climbing would be better here as there are tons of features and the rock is more solid

just like at Red Rocks, the rock has an oxidized patina coat that makes for great/interesting hand/foot holds. and it is beautiful to look at...rock as natural art
The weekends here have been so fun filled of late. i head home next week for my vacation in the US and i am not looking forward to it as much as you would think i would be. i just keep thinking about all the stuff i need to take care of - it will be a busy few weeks of errands and appointments. weekends here are truly about hanging with friends and the African pace of life.  i cant wait to see Otto, my family, do some camping, get away from the heat and hang with my PDX friends - so of course it wont be all bad :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

4th of July in Banfora

Banfora is the garden spot of Burkina Faso. about a 5 hour drive on mostly good roads. it has the feel of the Africa i remember in the East. Lush, green, a little cooler, with gorgeous accommodations including pool and a garden to sit in. For me it also had the feel of being home on a road trip because of the hiking and the climbable sandstone rock.

We started the 4th of July weekend with a reception for all Americans in BF at the Ambassador's residence. there was a good turn out, it was relaxed and they even served hot dogs and mini hamburgers. i do like this holiday because it gives me a time to reflect on all we have in the US and how lucky we are.  Being overseas always makes me feel a touch more patriotic.  don't get me wrong though, the US isn't perfect - i have also always felt that no matter what country i am living in, i have something to learn about community and sacrifice.

Now on to the pictures. I cant wait to go back. Esp because there are huge rock formations just begging to be climbed. i was told you cannot use ropes, so thank goodness i have all my bouldering gear.  I am plotting a trip for when Otto gets back to include camping with some other families, hiking to some caves and of course climbing.
Entrance to the Sindou Peaks

Hiking at Sindou Peaks

View of the Peaks from the road. like many interesting rock formations, they just appear out of no where - hard to capture the beauty with a photo.

Hippo lake. there was a lightening storm just over the lake, so we elected to skip the boat tour that searches for hippos, instead we hung out with some locals where were fishing at the lake. Carp was the catch of the day.

The Waterfalls (Cascade in French). Family doing their laundry.

At the top of the Waterfalls. lovely and easy hike up here.

The path that leads to the route to the top of the Waterfall.

Hiking and scrambling at the Domes. this is near the Waterfall, not associated with Sindou Peaks. this was a very cool site, smaller, but lots of climbable sandstone.  All of these areas used to be under water.

A few photos of our lovely hotel - Cascade Palace. there is also another older, very nice hotel in town called Canne Sucre (sugar cane). We did see lots of sugar cane fields in the area. this is a huge agricultural part of the country.