Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Toubabou a velo
Oops, that week went past quick - I guess that's what happens when you've been somewhere a while. Days go past faster and there are fewer surprises. So now it is May and I have been in Burkina a whole month.
Anyway, I am now the proud owner of a blue push bike. I'm really pleased to have it - it means I can cycle to work, which takes about 10 mins cycling gently, to avoid working up too much of a sweat - it's pretty flat between where I live and where I work. So that's good. I can also cycle into town, to go to the bank, or the shops, or the market etc. So far cycling is a day time activity - I'm reluctant to cycle at night as there are so many unpredictable things on and in the road - animals, potholes, that sort of thing.
The bike is also good for getting the hang of the place. The main means of public transport is the petit taxi vert - shared green taxis. You flag down a taxi, however full it may appear, explain where you want to go, and the driver says ok or not. He then deposits his passengers in the order he sees fit, continuing to pick up new ones as he goes. So quite often the route you take is circuituous, which does not help with understanding geography. But its cheap, for me - anywhere within the town is 300 cfa per person, which is about 40p. But the bike has other advantages. For a start, it's a bit of exercise - otherwise I am quite sedentary, not to say sluggish, which the heat encourages, apart from the occasional swim. And its exercise which is tolerable in the heat. Also, as I cycle around town, I can pedal past the postcard pedlars and all those who think they can help me or I can help them. So lots of benefits.
There are not many white people - toubabous in Dioula - in Bobo. So even on foot I attract attention - children shout Toubabou and some come running up wanting to shake hands, a few ask for money, some giggle, and just a few run away crying (as well they might). I haven't shaken so many hands in a long time - shaking hands is part of the daily routine here, and children start young. So a Toubabou on a velo is a real excitement. Happy, of course, to provide entertainment. I gather there is some other form of entertainment going on back in Blighty - so be it.