Further south

I arrived at the airport of Ouaga too early – the uniformed man wouldn’t let me in because the Air Burkina post wasn’t manned yet. I sat down on a wobbly set of chairs that moved, en masse, forward or backward depending on the other persons in the row. And then things started to move.

I had waited the suggested 45 minutes but when I approached the uniformed man again there was much consternation around him. I quickly understood that the flight to Abidjan was canceled and travelers would be put up in a hotel and served a meal, to be accommodated the next day at the same time. For me that meant that one third of the training of trainers I was supposed to lead would be over by the time of my arrival. I was just wondering how I was going to deal with this when I overheard someone say that the Air Burkina flight was not canceled. It was the Air Ivoire that wasn’t going to go. My luck – who would have thought that Air Burkina would carry the day.

And so I arrived as planned, although leaving the airport itself took quite a while because several large planes arrived at the same time and there were simply too many of us to get our passports stamped quickly. Nevertheless I was quite impressed with the orderly way in which we were advancing with numbers flashing for the next available officer.

Everywhere there were warnings about Ebola, or rather about not transporting, touching or consuming bush meat and advice on where to go if you had symptoms such as fever, headache and bleeding. I am entirely engrossed in John Barry’s book about the Great Influenza of 1918 and am learning a lot about how virus work and our immune system when it is in overkill mode.

A driver and one of my colleagues were waiting for me and took me to Grand Bassam. It is about one half hour drive eastwards from Abidjan when traffic is light. Grand-Bassam was the French colonial capital city from 1893 to 1896, when the administration was transferred to Bingerville after a bout of yellow fever (according to unedited Wikipedia). Now it is a place where people go to relax on Sundays, producing some mighty traffic jams (I have been in the worst traffic jam of my life in Cote d’Ivoire, last year from Plateau II to the airport).

I was pleased to find out the hotel has fast internet and power but unfortunately there was no water; not in the evening and not in the early morning when I got up. I should have stayed in bed as water returned at 7 AM after I had already stuck my head in a bucket of soapy water without having any implements other than my hands to complete my ‘shower.’

Later in the day water remained but power went out several times – somehow it seems when cannot get all three right at the same time for a while.

I had a fabulous meal by myself in the outdoor café while my colleagues went to a maquis (a local inexpensive outdoor eating spot that you find all along the West African coast. I decided to stay put and take care of several small details that had not been taken care of and that required a considerable amount of improvisation.

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