Day 13 – Oursi to Gorom-Gorom to Dori to Kaya to Ouaga – “All Manners of Transportation”

Lauren and I awoke on our mattress outside in the sand with Abrahim standing over us, telling us to wake up in French. It was 5:00 AM, and our mopeds were here.

After a quick breakfast of bread and tea, we made payment to the two men who were to give us a ride back into Gorom-Gorom, climbed on the back of each moped behind the drivers, backpacks on, and set off into the early morning desert. Hanging on for dear life, we sped down the dirt road much faster than I would have liked, but made it to town in great time – 45 minutes later we had arrived, much quicker than the several hours it took to get out on the truck two days earlier. We managed to find a van back to Dori, which we waited on to depart for another 45 minutes. The ride was uneventful, though a big noisy with a goat bound to the top of the vehicle, wailing the whole way. We made it safely back to Dori, determined to avoid Googly Bear at all costs in order to get back on a bus to Ouaga without incident. This did not happen.

We learned it would be an hour wait before the bus departed for the capital, so entered a small café for a more substantial mid-morning breakfast. As we walked in, we encountered a large man we would later refer to as The Lumberjack, who apparently recognized us and greeted us accordingly. He left as we ordered our food, and came back minutes later with Googly Bear. He had found us again. We were forced to talk with him during our entire meal, as he invited himself to breakfast and sat down with us at our table. After 15 minutes of insisting he knew us, we finally gave in and agreed that we did remember him, and then had to beat him back from taking us on as customers for his tour guide services. We eventually escaped, exhausted, boarded our bus, and left him behind for good.

The ride from Dori back to Ouaga proved much more eventful than the trip from Gorom-Gorom to Dori. After around two hours of travel, our large bus, laden with passengers, broke down. We all filed off to the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, with only a tree and a small clay building in sight. Most of us congregated under the tree, out of the sun, and waited. And we waited. It soon became apparent that the bus would not be fixed any time that day, and so we were to wait for the next bus to come by within the half hour. The relief bus came by – and kept going. It was apparently too full to stop for us stranded passengers.

And so, a couple of young Burkinabe women began to signal for a ride from other passing vehicles, and Lauren and I joined. Though we could hardly communicate with each other, the women were very kind and helpful, and just as anxious as we were to get on toward civilization. We managed to flag down a pickup truck, whose driver agreed to take the five of us as far as Kaya, where we could then get a bus the rest of the way to Ouaga. As my first hitchhiking experience, I was very excited. We all piled in with our backpacks, tied our hair back for the windy ride, and took off down the road, leaving the broken bus and its remaining passengers behind.

Forty-five wind-blown minutes later, we arrived in Kaya. I was particularly excited to stop here, as my sponsor child Teb-nooma lived somewhere in town; I would be visiting her in a few days and was anxious to see what her community was like. The truck driver dropped us all off at a bus station, exacted his small fee from each of us (which I’m sure was much more reasonable than it would have been if Lauren and I wouldn’t have been with Burkinabe, who did the negotiating) and we went to wait for yet another bus.

After a short wait, and once our bags had been slung upon the top of the vehicle, Lauren and I boarded our last bus of the day and headed toward Ouaga. Hungry and exhausted to the point of giddiness, we eventually made it back to town and stopped for food at the first place we saw: a garden terrace/pizza restaurant on the corner. However, as it was only 4:30, we were too early for pizza! Instead we each had a Fanta, laughed hysterically at the lizards running underneath our table, grabbed a green taxi, and headed for home to SIL to scrounge up some dinner a bit closer to home, and a bit faster than the pizza joint was willing to go. We made it back to our end of town and enjoyed yet another bowl of rice, sauce, and meat at the corner stand.

Upon arrived back at SIL, we learned that we would not have our old double room, but would instead be staying in a type of apartment, with its own bathroom, living room, and kitchen! It was a bit more expensive, but the only room they had left to give us to honor our reservation. Apparently a sort of conference was being held there, and all of the small rooms had filled up in our absence.

Though the accommodations were great, Lauren and I had one last task for the day before we could go to bed. There were cockroaches everywhere. Most of them were dead, and an empty can of roach spray on the bookshelf told us the staff had sprayed for us before we arrived, however, there were still many alive. We quickly learned that Burkinabe cockroaches are also different from Ghanaian roaches in a very distinct way: they can fly. Luckily, the living roaches in our apartment must have been stunned by the spray and did not fly about, but they were much harder to kill once you caught them and flipped them onto their backs (which normally trapped a Ghanaian roach) because they used their wings to flip themselves back over and continue their escape. It was on.

Since I had much more experience in the war on roaches than Lauren, it was I who ended up killing most of the fiends. However, we each took one of my Chacos and hunted them down around the apartment together, running and chasing and smashing and screaming and generally releasing all of the madness pent-up inside us from the long day’s travel.  I felt strangely vindicated after the ordeal, scooping up over 30 dead roaches (only about 12 of which we killed ourselves) from under the bed, in the shower, in the kitchen, and under the couch. It was good to know I still had it in me.