I watched in astonishment and horror the news about the Malaysian flight that went down in the Ukraine. A local conflict brought into many Dutch families’ homes in ways they could never have imagined. It never occurred to me that overflying conflicted places could be dangerous. I will be flying tonight over some turbulent areas too, Mali, Libya.

I try to imagine the reasoning that led to the launch of the missile, if that is indeed what happened. Was it an error? Was it a bet, an overdose of testosterone? We will probably never know.

I have made my way to Ouagadougou after a slightly less restless night but I continue to cough in a way that, I am sure, my fellow travelers tonight will not like. I reserved a day room in a small guesthouse recommended by a friend. It is very cute, very African in the way foreigners would characterize African – wrought iron furniture, nice textiles, tiles, wooden statues and art. It also means there is a mosquito net which one finds rarely in African hotels. I was told by the management of the hotel I stayed in on my way in, and the same chain also in Bobo, that guests don’t like mosquito nets because they say it unhygienic. I find that rather surprising given that my bed has a blanket that I doubt gets washed between customers. The pillows and mattress, once you look under the covers, are rather gross and the shower curtain had not been washed in weeks, if ever, slippery with mold.

I was picked up at the airport by a taxi sent by the guesthouse. It was an old Mercedes that, after some buffing, would have done nicely in an antique car parade in the US. The driver too, he was also antique, wiping the windows with a dirty old rag so I could see the city.

It has been raining heavily which means the temperature is below 30 and people are happy. Unlike in Holland where, if you are not a living from the land, rain is seen as a disturber of plans; here it is a source of joy and life.

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July 2014
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