With our two fabulous weeks in Paris unfortunately coming to an end on Thursday 2nd September it was time to make our way to Burkina Faso!
After a couple of minor hiccups (broken luggage and incorrect visa entry dates) we successfully made it to the airport & checked in for our flight to Ouagadougou. At the departure lounge we had the pleasant surprise of encountering five other CUSO-VSO volunteers and a CUSO-VSO program advisor that were all heading for the same place as us.
The flight went quickly and before we knew it we had arrived in West Africa. The airport at Ouagadougou was small and hectic and we were thankfully quickly spotted and greeted by VSO Burkina Faso staff. They dropped us off at the hotel, Le village Nong Taaba where a three course meal awaited us. Then tired we all made our way to our rooms for our first night in Africa.
The majority of our first week and a half was to be spent in the capital, Ouagadougou, for training. As well as receiving information on health, culture and our work assignments the training also included an orientation weekend. This consisted of new volunteers spending the weekend with one of the established volunteers in the cities where they would reside. For us, unlike the other new volunteers, this meant leaving the capital and taking a five-hour bus trip to Bobo-Dioulasso. We were fortunate to be able to stay with Eve & Simon and their children just before they departed for their vacation in Benin. During the weekend we got to see a bit of the city, our new house, meet the other volunteers in Bobo, Helen , Gabriel & Nathalie and learn a little about the ins and outs of living and working in Bobo.
After returning from Bobo training resumed. We also went and registered with the Canadian Embassy (unsurprisingly there is no NZ embassy in Burkina so am now a pseudo-Canadian). Another part of the training consisted of a number of hours of Dioula language training (the local language used in Bobo-Dioulasso as well as in parts of surrounding countries Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Ghana).
On Sunday 12th September it was time to say goodbye to our fellow volunteers in Ouagadougou as Sabrina, Benoit and myself make our way back to Bobo-Dioulasso.
Ok, after a bit of a blogging/Burkina Faso preparation break while I had the lovely distraction of my parents visiting for 5 weeks, it is now time to return to getting oneself organised for departure. Now there are only 13 more sleeps to go, its starting to feel close …….
I am in absolute awe at the amount of preparation required for this trip, while I have lived in 2 other countries for a year or longer (Japan & Canada) the preparation for these was nothing in comparison to this voyage. I am discovering that going to one of the world’s poorest countries is in a whole new preparation league of its own.
However, on the preparation front, things do finally seem to be getting closer to all being done. All that is left to be done is (well at least all I think that is left to be done, as I am sure other things I have not though of will come to light in the coming days …)
- Burkina Faso visas to arrive – the embassy website states that this will only take 48 hours to be issued, while I find this hard to believe I do hope they turn up soon.
- Bank accounts, visa cards & general banking needs for the trip to be organised.
- Sub-letter to be shown the particularities of the apartment.
- Apply for an international drivers license – thankfully I can apply online for a New Zealand one.
- Federal & provincial tax offices to notify.
- Quebec health care system to notify.
- Organise travel insurance.
- Eat lots of spicy Thai, Malaysian & Indian food (I hear there are not too many spices or spicy foods available in Burkina Faso so I will make the most of my last days here) and fresh salads (for health reason I do not think these will make it to my plate very often for the next year either)
- The odd 5 @ 7 (Happy Hour) or two and final catch up with friends before leaving.
- And last but not least packing – I started this last weekend actually and have been trying to remove things from the pile each day, however on the odd occasion I seem to add to it as well ….
Things that are finished:
- Benoit’s car and motorcycle are sold & bicycle lent out for the year.
- The apartment is sub-let to a lovely German girl, Susanne, who will be working at McGill University for the year.
- Air tickets purchased.
- Vaccinations finished along with a reasonably successful trial of malaria medication (the only mild side-effects were a few vivid dreams)
- Helmet purchased – surprisingly it was not that easy to find a CUSO-VSO regulation helmet (it needs to be white, full faced, valued less that $300 & purchased in Canada) in Montreal at this time of year.
- Handed in my notice at work, I finish work on Thursday the 12th August.
- Medical examination completed.
- Dental examination completed.
- Police check completed.
Our flights are now booked & we luckily get a two-week stopover in Paris en route. As this will be my first time in Paris (actually to be precise, my first time in Europe) I am obviously somewhat excited about this.
|Tue 17th Aug
|Wed 18th Aug
|Thu 2nd Sept
|Thu 2nd Sept
There are a number of pre-departure things to be completed such as:
- medical examination,
- dental examination,
- police check,
- country specific entry and work visas,
- passport – ensure that its valid for more than the duration of the placement,
- and motorcycle helmet purchase – this is compulary for Burkina Faso due to the quality available in country.
There are a number of things I need to be inoculated against before heading to Burkina Faso. In addition, I need to take malaria medication daily for the duration of my stay.