Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Festima Day 1

March 2nd

After about 6 hours of dusty travel (4 of them on unpaved detours around where they will someday put a paved road), we've safely made it to DDG and are happily ensconced in Kate's courtyard. Despite my paranoid worrying, we got to the gare in plenty of time this morning, even though it was on the other side of town. It wasn't a bad bus, really, but the seats were a bit close together (no room for your knees), and as always there was a lot of dust. Midway to Koudougou a guy handed out candy (menthol cough drops that everyone considers to be “bon-bons”) to everyone. Stranger Danger! But as we were eating our candy he started some kind of health talk. I didn't understand all of his French, but did catch him referring to digestion problems, why you shouldn't eat yogurt, high cholesterol, sexual frustrations, coughs, stress, and fatigue. Anna and I looked at each other – was this some weird health sensibilization? And then came the pitch – his special soy-based syrup, guaranteed to fix anything! And just today, for you on the bus, it came at the discounted price of 2 mille, down from 4 mille! But wait, there's more. If you buy today for the low price of 2 mille, he'll give you a second bottle totally free! It was so weird sitting there listening to an in-person infomercial for a product that seemed, at best, suspect. We smiled to each other and turned back to our magazines, but he did a brisk business for the next 20 minutes walking bottles from his box in the front to the many buyers in the back. Certainly well worth his bus ticket and whatever fee he pays the company to let him advertise on their route.

We arrived in DDG, hungry, tired, and very very dirty. Thankfully the first stop was food! We went to Kate's house to shower and repose. Her house is amazingly beautiful. The paint is new so it looks clean, she has three separate rooms – a bedroom, kitchen, and living room, plus a latrine/shower, two cemented patio areas that are covered, and a palm tree. And electricity! I'm very jealous. She's done a beautiful job furnishing it, it actually looks like a home instead of the typical Peace Corps “the cheap furniture works just fine” hut.

We all woke up and headed out again around 5:30pm, going to the artisan village where people were selling art, crafts and food. The pushy sales made me super uncomfortable, so I didn't buy anything other than the food, but that food was definitely worth it, particularly the tofu kebabs and a local beer that was surprisingly light and sweet. Then we went to go see our first mask performance, a bit after 8. They hadn't arrived at the venue yet, so we bought our tickets and went to get a soda at the cafe nearby. Apparently we missed the start because we watched the Benin group walking away down the street after their performance, so we paid our bill and rushed off, arriving at the venue in the midst of the second group – not sure where they were from. It was certainly interesting, but brought up a lot of questions and was kind of underwhelming because I didn't really know what was going on. Still, it was fun in it's own way, and we'll see how it compares to tomorrow!

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