Arrived

I am back in Burkina, after a not too strenuous trip, even with my tendinitis brace. In Paris I saw my name on a TV screen which I hoped, and indeed was, a slight movement forward, from the main cabin to Premium Economy, which is like a mini business class – a smaller version of the fancy B-class seat, an amenities pouch of a slightly inferior quality and content than the B-class one, and a little cone with French regional ‘friandises,’ all high sugar content, which I munched down immediately after having deliberately stayed away from sugar the entire week.

Given that I have a very expensive ticket, over 3000 dollars, the upgrade felt more like an entitlement than a nice geste from Air France.

In Ouaga I was helped with my carry-on by a nice American gentleman whom, with many others from the US military, had come to Ouaga for some training or other, presumably to stop the advances of insurgents in the region. It is quiet military preparedness action, it seems, that doesn’t get any media coverage as there is nothing acute and newsworthy going on here at the moment.

At the hotel, a different one from the not so good experience at Palm Beach last time, was pretty much the same, room and general ambiance wise; except the staff was nicer and more attentive. They had prepared a room with a mosquito net which is not standard issue here in this country where malaria is endemic after we had made a special request.

Unfortunately I could not have a mosquito net AND internet connection which seemed like an unfair choice. In the end, the need to be connected to the world and talk with Axel prevailed and I declined the moustiquaire; instead I cranked up the airco which is about as good as if not better than a mosquito net.

It is Ramadan in the Moslem world. I am always surprised that in places like this that are mixed Moslem/Christian, food places are closed during the day, including the little cafeteria at the airport where I had planned to get a coffee and a croissant, given that I had no dinner last night nor breakfast as I left the hotel too early. Even the little pain au chocolat served on the plane to Bobo last time were withheld. I gather it is a business decision but it feels unfair to us non-fasters. So I keep nibbling on the cookies and chocolates brought with me from the AF lounge in Paris, not a great diet after my week of eating well.

I called the driver who had served me so well last time and he picked me up in a car driven by what looked like a younger relative who was just learning to drive. The young man made demi-tour on the otherwise empty road in front of the hotel and just barely missed hitting the only other car on the road. The back of the car, since I had last seen it, was all dented and the boot didn’t lock anymore. I suppose these were the results of the new driver experience. I was dismayed to find out that the young driver was taking me to the airport (only 10 minutes away and in a city still mostly asleep) as my driver said, “je vais me reposer un peu ici.”

My young driver must have gotten a talking to by his dad or uncle because he drove to the airport at a snail’s pace. This made me feel even more uncomfortable. But he was trying hard and super concentrated. The back of his T-shirt said something else worrisome; some quote from Ezekiel that hinted at being happier once reunited with those who had already passed into the afterlife.

Bobo on Sunday morning was as dead as one could expect on a Ramadan weekend but the hotel restaurant was open and serving breakfast. There was even a mango and an orange to make up for the horrible diet of the last 24 hours.

Three young boys were the only other guests in the restaurant. The smallest, about Faro’s age, was clad in only a T-shirt, bottoms bare; he kept fumbling his privates and then headed for the small case were the bread and croissants were stored. I was glad he couldn’t figure out how to open it, as there was no one supervising the kid; it didn’t seem like his older brothers (not that much older) noticed that there was something not quite right about the situation as the little man’s hands moved back and forth between his privates and the breakfast fare (on his own table).

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