Monday, June 7, 2010

The weekend from Ouaga...

It’s been the weekend from … Ouaga. (Pronounced “waga”—kind of like Fozzy Bear on the Muppets—‘waga-waga’). It was a last minute impulsive decision to get away for a weekend. Jenn’s going to Germany to study. For a couple of weeks at the end of the month and I’m hoping to road trip with the boys to Ghana in order to find a beach. Thursday morning Jenn suggested we take off after I finishing teaching Friday to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina. It’s about a 7-hr drive to a little step up the development ladder. The guest house is cheap and we could hideout and read books and maybe watch a DVD on the laptop. Someone had told me there was a new go-karts place in town too. It might be our only time away this summer as a family.
Friday morning Jenn tied down a few loose ends while I taught my class on the General Epistles. After the last of my students cleared out, I pumped up a soft tire and we were on the road. The road isn’t that bad, only a couple of rough spots with pot holes but they seem pretty good at fixing them up regularly. We’d pick up Visas the night before and so the border crossing was relatively simple. I made good time doing 100-130 km/h on the road with the occasional slow down as we came into small communities. The country side got greener almost as soon as we crossed the border. We were almost there, about 20 minutes from our destination and Bessie decided the grass was greener on the other side. Lumbering up onto the road, she seemed oblivious to my horn honking. At the last minute she seemed to clue in that something was coming but instead of stopping or turning around she bolted into my lane as my tires squealed. The cow’s nose caught my front signal light and her horn caught my windshield. My car slid to a stop, and with my side mirror dangling, I looked to see the large bovine lying in the road behind us. I sat there for a few moments not knowing what to do. In Niamey, I’d heard that owners sometimes expect you to pay for the animal if you hit it on the road. (Later in the weekend, a friend told us the local law stipulates that owners are responsible to keep their livestock off the road, and that in fact the herder had probably hid in the bushes when he saw the accident.) A local on bicycle off to the side just stood staring with his mouth open. The cow wasn’t his but no one else seemed to be around. First the head came up and then Bessie, with the wobbly legs of a new-born (re-born?) calf, stood up and lumbered off the road once more.
Saturday we did some light shopping, picked up some books for the church library, and borrowed some scotch tape to patch up the windshield and mirror. We never did find the new go-karts place but instead were directed to an old dilapidated kiddy amusement park where most of the rides didn’t work. Ben decided to try the blow up bouncy house and was having a great time until he landed the wrong way on his foot and started to wail, “I’m paralyzed! Help me! I’m dying!” A cold coke seemed to help the hypochondriac get over his ailments enough to try out the paddle boats.
Monday morning he did not fare so well. Around 5 AM I heard a yell and rush for the toilet followed by the telltales that this was no imaginary illness. After that none of us were sure that we were feeling alright but so far have done alright. Ben however has been “roaring at both ends” as my brother would say, and it looks like we may need to post-pone our trip home a day. At least Jenn was able to buy a pair of “Leo Poldo” underwear that were marked XL, but looked like they might barely fit Ben at a nearby street vender to help with some of the “roaring”.
PS. In hanging running errands in Ouaga today, I noticed a popping noise every time I turned. I popped the hood with another missionary and discovered that power steering fluid was missing its cap and was probably missing fluid as well. I don’t know how long that has been the case but it’s probably better that I didn’t drive home with it in that condition. For that we are thankful.

No comments: