Hello Everyone! Sorry I haven't written in awhile, I have had no internet access for the last few weeks, but one of my fellow stagieres lives with a family that owns a cyber cafe, so get ready for more regular postings. I wrote the following few entries on my arrival so I know they are a little dated, but I thought you might like to get my first impressions anyway.
Burkina Faso is an amazing place. Simply arriving at the airport was an adventure in and of itself. When we were flying in, all we could see out of the giant plane coming from Brussels was red; red ground, red roads, red homes, red everything. In fact, in flying I got an opportunity to see how into color coordination the good Lord really is. Ocean,:blue Europe: green, Sahara: yellow/orange, Burkina: RED. This is quite the change coming from the mid-west where everything is green or changing colors, as Im sure it is now as Halloweeen approaches.
In any event, the airport is a few strips of pavement with a small lookout tower where you would have traditionally seen very technologically advanced looking air traffic control command center. Although I laughed to myself as the stair-car approached the plane exit because I love the tv show “Arrested Development,” when we finally exited the plane, the steamy air hit me so hard that I was sure I wouldn’t make it to the bottom of those hilarious stair-car stairs. We took a bus approximately 20 yards to the “terminal” which is a cinder block building with cement/dirt floors and plywood all around. There is no fancy customs check-in or metal detectors, no surly and miserable looking TSA agents, just a few policemen behind a desk and a bunch of people who sat staring at the gaggle of mostly white foreigners who just landed looking deliriously excited. “Baggage claim” is some large 12x12 blocks that the air staff sets your bag on. The staff literally tows the luggage into the terminal on large drays, the likes of which I haven’t seen since my time on Mackinac Island, and even then the horses towed the weight. Here, everything is different.
When we got through customs, the Peace Corps staff was waiting for us, holding signs with the Peace Corps symbol on it beckoning us into our new home country. After getting our 80lbs of essentials, we walked out into the street to find our vehicles. Waiting for us at the bus were more Peace Corps staff with GIGANTIC water bottles, they were the most welcome sight I have ever seen and I have never drank 2 litres of water so quickly in my life. After packing 31 anxious volunteers onto a bus, we started the drive from the airport to our hotel.
I had oh, so many misconceptions about Ouaga. First, when I used to think of a big city, a capital, I would think of it having a few large buildings, paved roads, street lights. This is absolutely not the case in Ouaga (pronounced Waa-gaa). Virtually the entire city is the same height level, with probably 2 stories -3 stories max but the vast majority are 1 story. As if I wasn’t excited enough, the drive from the airport to the hotel was probably only like 20 mins, but there was just SO much to see! Everyone wears such colorful clothes, its so beautiful to look out into the streets and see the red roads contrasted with a medley of colored cloth and goods. My senses were overwhelmed with the sights of the city. I only considered for a second that I might be doing something rude sitting with my faced pressed against the window gaping at the people and sights of the streets of Ouaga, but as you can imagine I got over that pretty quickly.