TIA Part II: This is Africa Part II: The 3 policemen

Old mosque Bobo Dilassou

I loved traveling alone in West Africa. People told me many things regarding this trip before I started it. My friends tried to keep me away from the idea of doing all West African countries overland as a female solo traveler. And now I can just said: I’m soooo happy I did it. Many great things happened to me on the road. 

Let me share with all of you one of my many travel stories here and you will understand why I loved it. 

This story happened in Burkina Faso in a 4-5 days journey. 

Day 1:

On Sunday 29th January 2017 I took a bus early morning from Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso’s capital city) to Bobo-Dioulasso. My friend (Mafianga) who lives in Ouaga dropped me off in his motorbike at the bus station. He was very worried about me, a girl traveling alone to a city that she doesn’t know and without any hotel reservation. Hmmm. 

I told him it’s not the first time I do it and he should not worry about it. But he wanted to be sure that I’ll be fine. So he approached one of the guys that was also waiting for the same bus. 

Mafianga: excuse me my friend! Are you going to Bobo?

Guy: yes. I work there. I was here visiting family and now I’m going back home 

Mafianga: ohhh, what do you do in Bobo?

Guy: I’m a police man. 

Mafianga: that’s perfect my brother because my sister here (pointing to me) is traveling alone and I need someone who takes care of her. Could you please make sure she is fine?

Guy: sure, I’ll. 

Suddenly they were no friends anymore, but brothers. And I was their sister, of course. 

So… that’s how I met Police man #1: Moussa Guinko, who became 2 minutes later my brother and protector. Haha. We sat together during the 6 hours trip, he bought me a drink and boiled eggs when the bus stopped on the way to Bobo and he told me about his beautiful family and his job. 

We arrived to Bobo at 2pm. Moussa took me to the guesthouse of a friend as his real sister was sleeping on the couch at his house and he had no space to accommodate me. His friend offered me a good price: 6.000CFA (9€) for a nice room with a private toilet and hot shower. 

If you are around and need accommodation in Bobo check this place:

Accommodation: Auberge Ibaris Ara Address: 01 BP 2643 Bobo-Dsso 01 +226-20956370, Cel. 75609941

Moussa also helped me to get around in the city and drove me around in his motorbike to visit the Cathedral Notre Dame de Lourdes and the famous Old Mosque, which is the largest example of Sudano-Sahelian architecture, created from locally available materials: mud and some wood. I saw few more mosques like this one later on, but this was my first one and I was speechless. I fell soooo in love with it. He even managed to get me inside the mosque at the rooftop. Great! 

Bobo-Dioulasso Old Mosque

With Moussa on the rooftop of the Bobo-Dioulasso Old Mosque

As there is not too much more to visit in Bobo, I told Moussa that I wanted to leave the day after early morning to the next city: Banfora. He said: “no problem sister” and he called his friend Nayaga (more about him soon). Then he helped me to book my bus ticket for the next day and he invited me to his house to eat local food that his wife just cooked for us for dinner. I bought some mango and guava juices for all of us and I had dinner together with his wife, sister and 2 kids. 

Day 2: 

On Monday 30th January I left Bobo with the Rakieta bus company direction Banfora. Moussa came with his motorbike early morning to pick me up at the guesthouse and take me to the bus station and that’s how I said Good Bye to Police man #1 and Welcome to Police man #2, as he gave me the number of his friend Nayaga. He said I should call him 10 mins before arriving to Banfora, which I did, and guess who was already waiting for me at the bus station with a motorbike when I arrived there? Yesss, you guessed correctly: Nayaga!!!

That’s how I got to meet Police man #2: Nayaga Saidou

My time in Banfora was also short but unbelievably great thanks to him. 

Nayaga called 2 other friends and we were 4 people in 2 motorbikes. He told me he took this Monday off. Wowww. 😀

First we visited the Sindou Peaks, an spectacular natural geological rock formation that was underwater millions of years ago and it’s now classified as a treasure of the world by the United Nations. This place is actually in the dangerous red zone marked as a “no travel area” for tourists, but come on! I had a police man to protect me, haha 😜

Sindou Peaks

Sindou Peaks

After this hike, you need a place to refresh in the middle of this hot weather, so what better than the Karfiguela Falls

Les Cascades de Banfora: Karfiguela Falls

Les Cascades de Banfora: Karfiguela Falls
Les Cascades de Banfora: Karfiguela Falls

Then I told him I have heard about the best spot for a sunset at the Dômes de Fabedougou. He didn’t know about this off-the-beaten-path place but after asking around, we found it. I hope I’ll have the time to write more about it and give more info about all my sightseeings in Banfora in an extra post. 

Dômes de Fabedougou

We went to a local place for dinner. Some rice with sauce as we already had fish for lunch. I wanted to invite them all but Nayaga didn’t allow me to pay. 

I told him I wanted to go to Gaoua the day after. We realized there is no bus going directly there. I had to go back to Bobo, which I didn’t want as I was already there the day before and I wanted to go further, not backwards. The online info about the buses wasn’t updated but then someone told us about an unofficial minibus that I could take in the morning. 

By that time I didn’t even know where I was supposed to spend the night but when we drove back home, Nayaga told me I could shower there at his place and sleep in his room with his fan/ventilator if I’m ok with it. He slept on the couch. We were watching a TV Chanel with some African music videos and singing together and he showed me the graduation book from the police academy with pictures of all of them. Then I understood that they all studied together in the capital few years ago and they all were sent to work in different cities. 

hiking with Nayaga

Day 3:

In the morning of Tuesday 31st January I already had some breakfast ready waiting for me when I woke up. So lovely from Nayaga. He had to work early, so he drove me in his motorbike to the place where the minibus was supposed to leave and I had to wait there. I tried to give him some money and he completely refused it. I was feeling bad because he didn’t allow me to pay ANYTHING. I have to say that he didn’t speak English at all and my French is very basic. So sometimes I didn’t understand him. I though he meant that I should not worry, I can give him the money later but I think he really meant that I don’t have to give him any money at all. Wowww. So unbelievably nice!!!

Also cause he was a police man, we didn’t pay any entrance fees for any of the sightseeings we did. I think you can already calculate how much money I spent this day: NOTHING 😜

We exchange Facebook names and he left for work. Once I added him on FB, I realized it was his birthday. OMG. I was feeling so bad. Not even a single drink or an small present I could buy him for his birthday. The only thing I could do at that moment was to call him again on the phone to say at least Happy Birthday! and then I sent him all the pictures I took of him and of all of us the day before (He is still using one of those pictures as his profile and cover pictures in FB). I asked him why he didn’t tell me before that it was his birthday but I guess he didn’t understand my question. Or maybe he told me it was his birthday before and I didn’t understand either. Ohhhhh 😔🤔 As I said before, Nayaga didn’t speak a single word in English, so we had to communicate with my little knowledge in French, haha 

Picture of Nayaga

I had to wait a while for the bus to depart. After departing we spent 8 hours on the road (although google said it’s a 3 hours drive between Banfora and Gaoua, lol..never ever! TIA=This is Africa). For more than half of the journey I was the only woman in the minibus full with 15 guys. But I made it to Gaoua, my last city in the south before going back to the capital to continue exploring other parts of the country (I’ll write soon about my experience in the north, near the Sahel desert). 

You can also check the category West Africa overland in my website for all my bus ride’s stories. 

https://www.itravelanddance.com/en/category/africa-en/

Now… you can guess who was waiting for me at the bus station in Gaoua. Police man #3: Abdoul Fatao Kere. He was a friend of Police man #1 (Moussa) and Police man #2 (Nayaga) and both had called him to take care of me. How cool is that!!!! But seriously…how cool is that!!!

He told me he can’t offer me accommodation tonight but tomorrow. As I was planing to stay 2 nights in this city it was ok for me. He took me then to a hotel of a friend, where I tried to negotiate the price. The guy at the reception asked for 12.000 CFA per night. I told him that I had paid 6.000 CFA in Bobo-Dioulasso (on day 1) and I hoping not to pay more than this price. The owner of the hotel (friend of my police friend) walked into the reception at this moment when I was trying to negotiate a discount and he agreed on the 6.000 CFA per night. Great! I told him I’ll stay 2 nights in the city but the second night I’ll move to Kere’s place (That’s the name of Police man #3). The owner said it’s not a problem. I can stay the second night at the hotel for free. Seriously? FOR FREE, as I was a nice person and also a friend of his police friend. Wowwww. But he told me: please don’t tell anybody that I gave you this price. So I decided not to post here the name of his hotel, lol. 

And if this is not enough gratitude, they then asked me: are you hungry? I said yes. So they both invited me for dinner and drinks with their friends. Hmmm…again almost the only woman in a big men group. Lol. 

Dinner in Gaoua

Ahhhh…and the owner of the hotel allowed me to use his motorbike for sightseeing the day after. He got me a friend/guide to drive me around but the motorbike was for free. I saved a lot of money again 😜

Day 4:

On this day I visited the ruins of Loropeni, the city museum, a fetish village and few Lobi tribes. In Sansana I met the oldest woman in the village, an 111 years old lady that was the last one of the generation who did the “mouth piercing” traditional ritual as a long life identification mark. 

Apparently the last woman in the Lobi ethnic who did the “mouth piercing” traditional ritual

Loropeni ruins

 

Carrying the little brother downstairs from the second floor of a Lobi house

Lobi tribe

All this sightseeings I’ll describe detailed in another post. 

Day 5:

I left back to Ouagadougou on Thursday 2nd February with a big smile in my face (well…this journey back to the capital was actually a bit of headache that I’ll describe in an extra post, lol. Check the category West Africa overland in my website) 

https://www.itravelanddance.com/en/category/africa-en/

Picture with Kere (police man #3) on the day I was leaving Gaoua

But now and here I just want to tell you my story with this 3 amazing police men who helped me, invited me, protected me and made sure I had an amazing time in their cities. #TIA (This is Africa) 

There are lot of beautiful people around, lot of angels outside there. 

A big thanks to Mafianga (here picture with his family) who took very good care of me in Oagadougou and approached Moussa (police #1) on Day 1 of this story

I think when you start trusting your inner guidance and you start moving in the direction of your dreams, like I did when I decided to go to West Africa alone, you will see how easy “complicated” and unknown things will appear to you. You will meet people that will rescue/help you somehow and one day you will have the opportunity to rescue them in return or rescue someone else and together your story will rescue others.

I hope my story rescues YOU 😊

Feel free to write in the comments if you liked my story or if you have a similar one  

Enjoy it and stay tuned 😊

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