Burkina Faso

I leave tomorrow for a week in Cape Verde. Here are some Burkina pix to tide you over til I’m back. 🙂

I’ve wanted to come to Senegal since I was in junior high and saw pictures of it in French class. Over time, the dream enlarged to a West Africa trifecta including Mali (because of the festival in the desert, Timbuktu, Dogon country, the mud mosques, and the music) and Burkina Faso (because Ouagadougou is home to the biggest film festival in Africa as well as an awesome film school, and because their art and design speaks to me). Well, Mali is temporarily on hold for obvious reasons, though I did spend one hour on Bamako tarmac en route to Ethiopia last year. I figured I’d wait to visit Burkina until I could fit it into the same trip as Mali, but I was very lucky to be able to go for work much sooner than expected.

Sadly, my time there did not coincide with the film festival and there was not enough time to visit the film school. Also, it turns out I’m allergic to the country, at least in December. It was bone dry and the red dust was swirling in the high winds. By the time the shoot was over I could barely open my eyes, which burned like I had gotten shampoo in them. None of the other visitors at the hotel seemed to have this problem. As my friend Laura says, I’m a delicate flower.

Anyway, pictures (with captions below, not above):

The hotel in Ouagadougou (at the top of this post) is a perfect example of gorgeous Burkinabe design.

As is this guy, one of the decorations in my room. If he weren’t so big I would have stuffed him in my suitcase and paid whatever theft fee the hotel decided to impose upon me. Good thing he was humongous.

The city of Tenkodogo at sunrise.

Cotton vendors in the market of a small town about an hour outside Tenkodogo.

I later bought some mudcloth made of Burkinabe cotton in the artisans’ market in Ouagadougou,which I wandered through half-blind because of aforementioned eye problems. Even with limited vision, it was great and I highly recommend it.

This is what the countryside looks like from a car. Much like what the Senegalese countryside looks like, but with a higher circular thatch hut to concrete block hut ratio.

This is some sort of tuber that was a very popular roadside food item. Our driver loved them. I tried a bite and spit it out. It tastes sort of like a very dry, very bitter mega kernel of corn.

Back to back awesome hand-painted signs. You can’t see the detail in this photo, but the sign on the left features a sunglasses-wearing, happily eating guy who amuses me.

Eye-popping midcentury African architecture back in Ouaga.

More midcentury amazingness.

And still more.

Another example of the geometric black and white design I love. These are masks of the sun, to encourage a good harvest.

It was Burkinabe Independence Day while I was there. I just missed the end of the parade while I was in the shop looking at the masks.

One of my favorite of the midcentury buildings I saw.

This is the music museum. Sadly it was closed, but happily the outside was museum-worthy.

Street art and street traffic.

The bank decked out for Independence Day. This is one of the styles of West African architecture that I find irresistible.

And here’s more. These buildings were everywhere you turned.

Even gas stations were fabulous.

Maybe you are getting bored of these by now?

I don’t care. I love them so so so so so much.

Especially the one above, because it’s basically nothing but a block whose lettering and cutouts take it to this whole other level of awesome.

The cinema made me drool, because of the architecture and because I haven’t seen a movie in a real theatre for almost a year. (Dakar doesn’t have one. Well, it sort of does. I’ll address that in another post.)

Sadly, it, too, was closed.

And one more building for good measure.

Have a good week! I’ll be back here in February, the month of my one year in Dakar anniversary.

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