Wednesday, January 14, 2009


After an all night flight to Paris, France, and an all day flight to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, I arrived safe and sound in the bustling city coated in orange dust. The setting sun glowed on the buildings, and as a warm breeze wrapped around my shoulders, a slow, round sounding French engulfed me. I was thrilled to have finally arrived!
I spent some time waiting to see my ride, but as it became dark, and my own personal crowd of on-lookers moved in, I decided (with the help of a kind taxi driver and a long-distance call to my mother) that perhaps it would be best to find a hotel for the night and call the FDC (Fondation pour le Développement Communautaire-the organization I will be working for) office in the morning.
The hotel was a breezy two-story building with a laughing host and doors that locked. I had a very nice room, with a fan, my own bathroom with a shower, and a huge misquito net draped over my twin bed. Without a watch, and the clock on my computer showing a strange other-continent time, I had no idea the time it was when I fell asleep, but it did not feel that I had slept all that long before the phone rang.
A cheery voice on the other end informed me in French that it was eight, and I had a call. It was a woman from FDC, she had recieved an email from my mother letting them know where I was, and was calling to apologize for the mix-up last night, and to ask if I was well. I assured her I was fine, and agreed to be ready to go in an hour.
It was in this hour that I had my first adventure:
I had not had the chance to change any money the night before, so I had to go find the bank in order to pay for my room. The nice men at the desk told me it was around the corner and down the road a bit, but down the road was more like through a sea.
There were people and mopeds and bikes and cars and carts going in every direction. It must have taken me 20 minutes to go a block. The bank as it turned out, did not change dollars, and my master card to my checking account did not work, so I was kindly directed to go in the other direction; the place I had really needed to be was right across the street from my hotel.
I changed my money and made my way back with a small crowd of men waving phone cards at me. A very exciting first outing!
By the time I got back to the hotel, someone from FDC was there to pick me up. As we drove to the office, she explained that a driver had come to the airport, but did not recognize me, and was very apologetic. I insisted that it really was not a problem.
I arrived at the office and was immediately shown around and met every single person in the building. It was a whirl-wind of Ca va? and Bonjour!, and I am sure I will not remember a single name. The woman who showed me around (she works for the sponsorship program-but I never caught her name) thoughtfully promised a list of people and names, so that I may be able to learn them all more easily.
Everyone in the office was very kind and welcoming. I met my mothers (I am sorry, I cannot find the apostrophe on this key board-every letter is in a different place) friend Maria Kerre who was kind enough to arrange this trip for me, and found her to be a lovely person. She thought it would be best if I stayed this night with her, and went to Sapone in the morning. I hope to spend some more time in Ouaga before I go, as there is so much to see and a misquito net to buy.


  1. oh boy!!!! so exciting! please please please take photographs of everything! and tell me about it all. so jealous. have a wonderful time! i love you!

  2. NATALIE! I am so excited for you. I've been telling my friends here how amazing you are and what you're doing. Now I can tell them every detail - not that they are particularly invested in your whereabouts :)
    I am, though, and I'm glad you have this blog. definitely take pictures, and update regularly. Miss you!

  3. hey, Natalie, so good to hear from you. Like the commentators above, I am so happy to get a chance to have a vicarious experience of Africa through you! And even happier that you seem to be enjoying yourself. I am still thinking how totally courageous you are and what a cheerful, adaptable, and wonderfully communicative traveler you are. All I can say is "You go, girl!"
    love, Dee