Friday, August 5, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Burkina Faso

Weichau is far away. From what, you ask? From everything. When I made the decision to visit the Hippo Sanctuary in Weichau, it wasn't because I wanted to travel two extra days and it wasn't because I was yearning to immerse myself in nature (although that's another of my vagabonding addictions). It really boiled down to a child-like fascination with hippos. I wanted to see one in the wild with the real possibility that the toothy bastard might charge me.

I traveled from Wa to Weichau, where the road became a town and pale green savannah grasses swam in the dust. In one of the few buildings (called the tourism council or some such nonsense), I scheduled a mandatory guide and place to stay on the banks of the Volta River, the international border between Burkina Faso and Ghana, where a community of fifty hippos were alleged to be hanging out, waiting to stomp on unsuspecting onlookers like little old me.

Well, the yellow-clad tourism official proceeded to double the rates printed on the sign in front of me. Not only that, but it was the low season. After a calm (but less than ladylike) argument, he informed me that I had two options: pay the fee or haul my ass two days in the other direction. Point taken. I dished out the cash and he left the room, only to return dressed as my guide. I guess the joke was on me.

Seventeen people piled into a single-cab truck as we headed off. When we arrived, my three companions and I (plus our guide Agbe) hopped out. The other twelve people rode back to where we'd come from. I found it strange but must admit I was really psyched about the spot. We were in the absolute middle of nowhere without a hut in sight. A small string of traditional mud rooms with hard slab beds made me glad I'd packed my mosquito net (the bugs were, in fact, the size of small housecats).

After dropping my pack, I asked Agbe what the deal was. He told me the truck would be back for us in three days, but then he said something that officially made me hate him. “Because it's the rainy season,” he mused while rubbing his chin, “you won't see any hippos.” At that point, I did something Mitties are rarely caught doing: I got truly, truly pissed.

Lucky for me, the view from an enormous tree house called the Hippo Hide (oh, the irony) and the company of some dear friends kept me from murdering Agbe. I mean, kept me in good spirits. At day's end, when a spectacular full moon rose over the imposing Baobab tree, I knew (hippos or not) the trek had been worth it.

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.


  1. I like this photo because it has a very impressive

  2. I like this photo because it caught my attention the house structure and the way in which they live in the wild....