Traveling in a developing country can be difficult. The roads often need some help…and the vehicles are questionable at best. It has prompted me to think, more than once, that when I am middle-aged and traveling on no budget (one can dream) that I will look back on my days in Ghana remember that I am pretty good at “roughing it”.

Burkina Faso is an African country that resides directly above Ghana. Half of their population lives on less than a dollar a day, but it was a beautiful country. The women were absolutely gorgeous (to the point that I considered telling my professor, I’m just not interested in men anymore), the landscape was pretty, and the roads were better than those in Ghana. Amazing! We originally wanted to ride camels into the Sahara Desert. Doesn’t that sound like a fabulous African experience? However, we had to change our plans the day before because we found out that some of the embassies (not the US) were issuing travel warnings, and it was very dangerous for tourists to go to the north. So, much to my mom’s relief I am sure, we decided not to stray too far up that way.

To get there, we had to take a 24 hour bus ride- needless to say, I was very confused about what day it was when I stepped out of the bus. For such a long bus ride, it didn’t feel like 24 hours…even trips to So Cal seem to cause me more restlessness.

At about 1 o’clock in the morning, our bus stopped at a metal fence (you know, the kind that they put up around concerts for line control etc.) and with us there was a huge line of buses and cars. The man sitting next to me explained that we had to wait for a police escort. Well that was a bit shocking. I asked him why, and he told me that that stretch of road was extremely dangerous at night because there were robbers hiding in the bushes. When I looked around, I got a weird feeling. Everyone (but us 3 obrunis) was sitting up a little straighter and looking out the window- but no one was talking.

Where the fence sat, it seemed to draw an invisible line. On one side there were kids running around, fires burning, people talking and laughing, and nothing seemed to bother them. But, as soon as that invisible line was reached, there was not a single person. All there was, was a very dark dirt road lined with very tall bushes.

I had been on the bus for about 12 hours at this point, so I was in a bit of an…interesting mood. I had decided that nothing bad was going to happen and therefore I was going to fall back asleep. When the police car came, I was uncomfortably aware of how tense everything thing seemed to be, despite my eyes being closed. The guy next to me sat straight, gripping his bag and staring out the window. But, nothing was going to happen, so I went back to sleep. Are you starting to see why I get myself into sticky situations?

Lo and behold, nothing happened. Within ten minutes of being on the other side of another fence, the entire bus was asleep again. The guy next to me told me in the morning that we were very lucky- that that was particularly uneventful experience for that stretch of road. I think that was when the gravity of the situation set in, and I was not looking forward to passing the other way to come home.

When we arrived in Burkina Faso, it was HOT. But it was dry heat, which I must say was a very nice change. In Ghana, you could be sitting under a fan and start sweating profusely because you moved your arm a little to the left, but here, it was over 100 degrees, and the sweat didn’t stay on us long enough for us to know it was there!

By this point, three and a half months of travel in a developing country had started to take a toll. We were just tired. Tired of trying to work things out, tired of trying to think of what to do, of finding places to stay, and tired of asking for directions and getting a marriage proposal in return (or an offer to bare someone’s child for that matter). So, we collectively decided we were going to just chillax (I am proud to say I have gotten Mie, from Denmark, to speak very proper American English, she has said  “chillax” more than once without noticing). All we did, and I mean this quite literally, was shop, eat, and sleep. Life could not be any better.

The people in Burkina were extremely friendly and more helpful than in any other country in West Africa that I have been to so far. They seemed to really appreciate the fact that there were three women traveling alone together and went completely out of their way to help us out. We ate creamy pastas, and extremely good ice cream, French pastries, and I even tried an antelope steak. At least, that’s what I think it was- the menu was in French and Mie wasn’t a 100% sure of the translation…but regardless it was a delicious mystery meat.

My favorite part of the trip was staying in a small town called Bobo. It reminded me overwhelmingly of a place my brother would love. Everyone was so (in his terms) Sunday beach (the chillest day in the chillest place-therefore really chill). Shop owners sat outside their shops and were willing to talk to us for a long time. All the little kids waved to us as we passed. A person we met on the bus even pulled over to ask if we were finding everything ok! Another woman stopped us and told us she wanted us to meet her family and cook dinner for us. Bobo had a small beach town feel (even though there was no beach). The cars did not honk at us, the people did not overwhelm us, and the food was outstanding. To top it all off, we finished each night with an ongoing Uno tournament in which I won. Life was fabulous.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for more! We weren’t kidnapped like the travel warning said we would be, and we weren’t mugged like the guide book said we might be, and weren’t robbed when everyone thought we could be. The people were kind, the air was dry, the food was good, and land was gorgeous. If you ever have a chance to go- don’t let anything hold you back!

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