The next morning we catch another Sogebaf bus further west to Banfora, where we plan to stay for a couple of days sightseeing. The two-hour ride begins with a group of 20-or-so men pushing the loaded bus around the block to get us started. We take an unplanned stretch break about 15 minutes outside of Banfora as we descend into the valley, when the bus gives a mighty lurch and shudders momentarily with the disconcerting sound of screeching metal. We coast for a ways down the hill before pulling over, as the engine is no longer running, and we all pile out onto the side of the road while the driver takes a look. After only 10 minutes he declares the engine fixed, and all the men gather to push the machine to a start again. One man comes over to Lauren and me, hands us a 2-year-old, pronounces, “Voila! Bebe!” and goes to help. We are back on the road in no time at all, after backtracking to retrieve the 80-year-old man dressed in sunshine-yellow robes who had started back toward Bobo on foot, apparently not confident in the mechanical abilities of our driver. (You’d think he’d go toward Banfora, since it was so much closer, but you don’t question elders in this culture.)
Banfora itself is beautiful, set in a lush green landscape that I compare to the Great Valley in the Land Before Time, in stark contrast with the desolate desert we traversed to get here. Sugar-cane fields as far as the eye can see, and, get this: they’re irrigated!!! (Something we have never seen in Ghana, which still confounds me.)
Upon descending from the bus, we had to barter our way through about a dozen Burkinbe men for a taxi to our bush camp slightly out of town. We arrived to find an apparently abandoned set of mud/plaster huts, but eventually found the boy in charge of welcoming guests sleeping under a table. Buckets of water for baths in mud huts, a hole in the ground in a mud hut for a toilet, and kerosene lamps for light at night. We were looking forward to this!