September 20, 2012 GMT
Burkina Faso

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I crossed the border at Faramana with no difficulties and headed to Bobo Dioulasso. The road was terrible for the first few kilometers (which can be normal at border crossings – no votes for paving a road to exit the country!) but then it turned into a long by-pass for road construction. It was rough going but at least the rain had knocked the dust down.
Arriving at Bobo just before dusk I thought I would follow up on a recommendation from Lonely planet forum for an interesting campground with round mud huts, etc. The website also looked good. There were no signs but I followed directions to the turn-off which was soft laterite and led to the edge of a very deep working quarry. The “road” turned into a path and I turned around thinking it must be the wrong road.
But at the nearby police checkpoint they said yes that was the road. A volunteer was assigned to lead me there. Off we went as the sun slowly set. When we arrived the site looked like the website but also it looked abandoned with tall overgrowth between the structures. A telephone call to the owner and I was told to wait and he would be there in 15 minutes. However, it was now dark and I had no desire to camp without water, etc. Also the road back ran on the very edge of the quarry. Not good if it rained. That plan was abandoned and I found a place at the not so interesting “Welcome Hotel” in Bobo. It then rained most of the night.

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Next day was off to Ouagadougou, the capital about 350km away. It rained off and on most of the day making me go through the annoying chore of taking my rain suit on and off multiple times.
From the roadside, Burkina did not seem as prosperous as Mali although the landscape was very green with tall foliage that went to the very edge of the pavement. There were not as many people about but that was likely due to the rain.

Flooding was evident in a lot of places.

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As had become usual the road was regularly semi-blocked by trucks undergoing repairs. You watch for the trail of branches on the road warning of the obstruction.

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I like the mud-walled houses.

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I also like the interesting mosque construction.

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Breakfast on the road.

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Another great Baobob tree.

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Ouaga has very long concrete boulevards lined with very tall street lamps at both main roads in and out of town. They seemed like some grand gesture at greatness but led to sandy streets with all the usual traffic chaos and street vendors.
My only GPS reference (I thought) happened to be the Canadian Embassy so why not start there?
A bridge was out at a canal or small river on my route and the local motorcyclists had conjured up a very innovative by-pass (too hard to describe) that I quite enjoyed. The sun was blazing hot when I arrived at the embassy announcing my Canadian citizenship. I was quickly ushered through the prison-like security system into a wonderfully air-conditioned reception area. I was left alone for quite some time which was OK as I enjoyed the cool air. I passed the time reading the notice of Immigration Canada’s new policy of basically not issuing visas except at key locations in far away countries. From Burkina Faso you could try at the Cote d’ Ivoire Embassy if you wanted.
It made me ashamed to complain about my visa problems. The receptionist turned up and was friendly but couldn’t help me find La Pavillion Verte, my hostel of choice.
Back on my bike, my GPS did know about the hostel (duh!) and I quickly found it.
Given the total lack of street signage, the labyrinth of streets and the street vendors who block the view of the establishments behind them, only local knowledge will get you to a specific place or, of course a GPS with the coordinates!

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Living up to it’s name, there was a nice leafy courtyard but given the rain (again) it was just very wet and damp. There were a few back packers and a young lady from Canada was at the next table with some friends.

Some strange sculptures around town.

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Feeling a little damp and discouraged I decided to leave for Togo in the morning. It’s about a 250km ride to the border at Cinkasse. Leaving the hectic streets of Ouaga was a relief.

Of course there was some road construction but the rain kept the dust down.

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Men looking to raise a little cash will sometimes fill potholes and then ask drivers for a donation. Some can get quite agressive but these guys were friendly.

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The terrain became very hilly which meant vehicles piled behind slow moving trucks and the resultant crazy hair-raising scramble to get around them. The driving today was appalling to say the least. Lots of crumpled metal along the road bore witness to the carnage. I don't like to take pictures of vehicle crashes but i had plenty of opportunities.

More Burkina Faso scenes.

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An innovative way to divide a highway curve.

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Posted by Ross Davidson at September 20, 2012 11:32 PM GMT
 

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