Monday, October 6, 2008


Here we are, finally, in Dori!

The trip, in a big white UN-WFP jeep, accompanied by our boss Ali and the driver Cisse, just took three hours and went by fast. We were pleased to discover the Burkinabe landscape- red earth sprinkled with quite lush green trees and bushes at first, followed by more dried out and less bushy plants and trees, until, close to Dori, more sandy dunes. The whole is quite flat, with a few hills sometimes. We passed through a number of small and larger village, including Zinaire, the native village of the president, and ‘tourist spots’ like Bani (with nice mosques). The villages all seemed very poor, with little houses in mud bricks. Between them we crossed many people on bicycles, motorbikes, buses (with people sitting or motorbikes piled on top of them, see the pictures!), or simply walking. [We also passed two lakes (not sure if they are natural or artificial), one of which had a proper bridge, the other one was in construction, so we had to pass right next to the water, which was slightly overflowing onto the road (sometimes it overflows a lot and you can’t pass).]

So in comparison to these villages, Dori is a little city (it is also the capital of the Seno province- Burkina is divided in 13 provinces). To most people reading this however, it is probably best described as a big village. There is one street with tarmac, crossing the city and continuing further north. Otherwise the streets are of sand and dirt, unfortunately often littered with plastic bags, and diversely populated with goats, cows, donkeys, and pigs, as well as a few motorbikes and even fewer cars. The majority of houses are built with mud bricks too, though a good number are in concrete.

The people are either friendly either continue going about their daily business without paying too much attention to us (which is refreshing after the persistent Ouaga vendors). The children are often amused to see us, laughing and screaming ‘les blanches, les blanches!’, sometimes followed by ‘y’a pas bonbons? cadeaux?’ or ‘photo?’. Often they also come to us, and, some giggling, some solemn, present us their little hands to shake.

It seems it will be easier to connect with the local people here than in Ouaga. Yesterday for example, on our way back from a short walk that led us to the edge of the village (curious and amused villagers asked us where we were going, because over there it was the ‘brousse’, i.e. the jungle/desert/nothing), enjoying a fresh slice of watermelon, we were invited to have tea by some guys sitting on the side of the street. I’m still unsure whether it was an actual invitation or just a polite greeting, but we accepted, sat with them for a while, and were treated to our first Burkinabe tea. It took a long while to prepare (it was poured in and out of the teapot and little glass over twenty times), and was both extremely bitter and, thanks to a massive dose of sugar, extremely sweet.

And the most exciting news, for us, is probably that we already found a house, and just moved into it! Three bedrooms, a large living and dining room, with a nice terrace and large garden (mainly because it is part of a larger property, including group of houses and rooms owned by ‘Dr. Li’)- with one air conditioning in a bedroom, a washing machine (!!) and a little kitchen, we are really happy! The fridge does not seem to work (yet) though. But it is really very nice to finally start settling in properly. We got the first supplies already (rice, couscous, water, juice, milk, bread..), but unfortunately have not found many fruits (i.e. only watermelon) or vegetables yet. There is only one small over-the-counter supermarket with basics, and we briefly searched the market already, so suspense on where else we can find those needed vitamins!

A final couple of details on Dori- there is just one main restaurant (which is itself very simple), otherwise a bunch of small ‘maquis’, sort of street-side restaurant/bar; it is really very hot, though cooler in the evenings, when we were able to sit outside our hotel room for some fresh air; there are almost no visible mosquitoes, and practically no bites either!; but there are a bunch of general insects. We uploaded some pictures (see link on the side) so you can have a more visual impression of everything- thanks to, yes, faster internet at the office!!

Now we just need to start working…


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