Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bus to Bobo

Why would I assume my bus ticket would have a time on it? Silly me.
"I think it leaves at six," said Bill. 

I thought the ticket seller had said seven, and that I should be there by 6:30. But I honestly didn't remember. 

I compromised and arrived at the Bittar station in the dark at 5:30 a.m. to catch my 7:00 TCV bus to Burkina Faso. Now I'd get to find out whether I'd weaned myself off coffee enough to not get a massive headache without morning caffeine—I hadn't as it turned out, and will be reduced to morning Coke when coffee isn't available). 

A dozen people slept sprawled out in front of a TV in an open-air waiting area at the Bittar gare. There was no room for me, so I perched on a box nearby and watched the gare slowly come to life. Vendors unlocked their kiosks and passengers visited the Nescafe man.

And at around 6:30, we all gave our bags to a man who must have been very good as jigsaw puzzles as a child. He expertly filled the bus hold, and sent us around to the other side to board. Seats weren't assigned today, so the trick was to elbow your way to the front to get a decent seat. I managed, and was surprised to learn that the bus was indeed air-conditioned and comfortable.

Aside from that annoyingly loud video monitor. Nigerian soap operas played on eleven. Note to self: Dig out your earplugs and keep them in your carry-on. 

The worst problem was boredom on the journey to Bobo Dioulassou. Well, that and we hit a goat or a dog at some point. There was a sudden braking of the bus, then a thump. I tried not to think about it. 

The border process was slow but painless. There were many tomatoes and onions on offer, and eager money changers on both sides. I even managed to find the local toilets, which meant no squiggling in discomfort for the rest of the journey. TCV bus did not take prayer breaks. 

I'd e-mailed ahead to a B&B that got decent reviews on TripAdvisor, and the French owner had sent a taxi driver to fetch me. Unfortunately, the bus was late and while the driver was there, there wasn't any food on the outskirts of town at the B&B. I tried the bar across the street but they'd just stopped serving.

I had a raging headache from lack of caffeine and not enough water. The B&B was strictly adequate; no more. The wi-fi was extraordinarily slow, nearly non-existent. I posted a comment on my Wall on Facebook, and it got caught up in some kind of a loop, re-posting 215 times before Facebook's bot banned me from posting for bad behavior. I could read my own Wall but could only "Like," not respond. 

Grumpy, pissed, and hungry, I did all I could do. 

I went to sleep. 

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