In With The Tree People 2005-12-14
From the ancient world of Djenne through the Dogon is a solitary affair. Very little but old traditions populate the side of the paved colonial road. A rare opportunity to take a vantage point above the horizon poses itself to me before descending into Burkina Faso.
Since meeting Mary, the tree carer of Mali in Bamako, I was now in the care of the Tree people. In Senegal it had been Fish people, but now it was trees. A traveller is a hand-me-down, I am being handed down along my path from one friend to another. On occasions there are breaks in the continuity, but for now I'm being handed from one branch of tree lovers to another. Mary introduced me to Justin and he invited me to his home in Ouagadougou. As I understand it Justin has been studying trees in Africa for some time now and has already given me another tree contact in Ghana. Justin and his wife are looking after me during their last days in Ouaga. I was to stay there a few days after they had left but not for long, funds were short and I really needed to get to an English speaking country to get cash making films. Burkina Faso and its world famous FESPACO would seem the ideal place for making film contacts, but for finding work that pays its not so certain. I already missed last year's festival when Julien invited me to join him to present his "Madpigeon" films.
Ouaga is a sleepy place like so many African capitals, not much going on except in the markets. Sandy streets dotted with the occasional sheep, dry air, hot sun, kind generous people.
Justin invited me to visit a small association of young people at Kamzaka, dedicated to looking after children who have no one else to care for them. I didn't have much time, but at Justin's request I made a very short clip of the children that Justin thought would help him raise funds from rich people he knew.
It's a typical ex-pat lifestyle, helping the poor of Africa so that we can bask in the sparkling light of the hotel swimming pool. Italian friends, Francesco the concert pianist turned UN officer and Catarina an atypical Italian beauty from the Italian co-operation are here too. Ok, none of us have much money, but we still live a luxurious lifestyle on the doorstep of poverty. My eyes pass over the beautiful eyes of Catarina and I forget all about the misery, life is for living not loathing.
2 Many 2 Late 2005-12-20
In the few weeks I've stayed in Ouaga, I've become a small part of Catrina's life, for some female ex-pat workers in Africa it's very difficult to meet the right man, I may have served that purpose for just a few nights at least. Tender touch and romance make everything sing a short while.
Yet simultaneously and without warning a beautiful and lively Burkinabe girl at my cyber café of choice, has been giving me all sorts of smiles over the past few days. Finally I gave in, "Bon, donne-moi ton numéro.", Halimata gave me her number. "Peut-être tu vu faire quelque chose dans la nuit?", I asked, but suddenly she was worried about what might happen next, she didn't want me to think she was a prostitute. "Quelque chose comme quoi?" she asked. I invited her to do whatever she would like, restaurant, club, cinema. Hali jumped on cinema and we made it a date. That night she arrived at the cinema with a female friend of hers from the cyber. I asked if they were scared of me since Hali had brought a friend along, they said no, but I knew they had concerns. I bought tickets for all as is the social norm and we sat to watch a new Burkinabe film. It was the first time I had enjoyed a contemporary African film in a cinema populated by locals. The audience reactions showed a real passion for film, something I had forgotten about. Hali and her friend made the evening very entertaining with all their yelps and laughter throughout. I bid them farewell that night, but Hali winked and promised more for the following day.
We did meet the following day for lunch, Hali was eager to go back to my place, Justin's place that was now hollow after he had vacated it. I was just pouring water for us to drink and searched for Hali, who to my surprise had stripped down to her underwear in the bedroom. "Wow, that's how its supposed to be", I thought. "Je t'aime, Je t'adore, Tim, Je t'aime." she cried.
A whirlwind of female companionship finished almost before it ended, so frustrating after so much time alone, but I had to move on to keep the journey alive. Goodbye Catarina, goodbye Halimata.