Day 52 - Thursday 13/12/07 - Hotel OK Inn, Ougadougou
Burkina Faso is officially rated the third poorest country in the world - based on factors like infant mortality, adult literacy (13%) and life exptectancy (over one third don't live to see 40). There's also a lack of natural resources and raw materials and its foreign debt is double the amount of its annual exports of goods and services. However, compared to the countries we've just been to, Burkina seems like a remarkably relaxed, friendly and well-organised place. The roads are excellent, the streets are tidy, there's loads of fruit and veg being sold on the streets, and it isn't swarming with children asking for presents. Apparently crime in the capital is no longer a problem as the police adopted a 'shoot to kill' policy for thieves! Driving round the capital is a bit crazy though, with thousands of bicycles and mopeds - we saw evidence of at least two recent bike crashes. We also keep getting caught out by traffic lights, as we're not used to seeing them. Arrived at the embassy unscathed to apply for our Ghana visas and we were greeted in English by a very friendly lady, and told to come back tomorrow at 2pm.
Day 53 - Friday 14/12/07 - Hotel OK Inn, Ougadougou
Did a few chores this morning (changing the transfer box fluid, updating website, having a dip in the pool...) then headed into town to get our visas. Bought some delicious fruit from the local market (pineapples, mangoes, melons, papayas) - and managed to find lunch for 10p from some women selling rice and sauce! The food at the hotel, where we're obliged to eat, is amazing and the steaks are about the size of a dinner plate - a real bargain. We'd like to stay longer in Burkina as we're thoroughly enjoying it, but we need to get to Accra to try to get our Nigeria visas before Christmas. There's plenty of festive activity going on round here with lots of decorations and tinsel in the shops and people selling blow-up penguins. All very strange in 35-degree heat!
Day 54 - Saturday 15/12/07 - Ougadougou to bushcamp near Bongo, Ghana
Thought we'd stop by a village called Tiebele, as there's an interesting sounding royal compound with traditionally decorated houses. However, when we arrived we were hounded by guides who just wouldn't leave us alone. We looked again in the guide and realised it's down as one of the country's 'highlights', so they obviously see their fair share of tourists here - but surely not enough to justify the amount of guides. You can't visit the compound on your own, so we picked a guide and set off. It's actually a fascinating place. The architecture of the houses is amazing and they're really cool inside (literally). There are about 300 people living in the compound - which means the chief must have an awful lot of wives. After our visit, we headed towards the border with Ghana. It was market day so the immigration/customs were rather busy and the town was packed with people and music blaring out. Drove through a town called Bongo and funnily enough there was a procession of people playing bongos. It was quite tricky finding somewhere to bush camp as there were little villages and houses everywhere.