I never had Burkina Faso on my travel bucket list. Not even close. In fact the day my son called to say he had received his Peace Corp assignment and he was going to Burkina Faso, I said “where?” And over the past year as I have told people about it only a very few people had ever heard of this tiny, land-locked, poor country in
In the beginning, I really didn’t want to go. I had traveled to Ethiopia several years ago and had seen some of the most horrific living conditions on the planet in that small and struggling country. I wasn’t sure I was up to it again. I was thinking we should meet our Peace Corp son in some exotic nearby place like Morocco or Canary Islands.
But he was insistent. He had fallen in love with Burkina Faso and the people and he wanted to share it with his family.
And that is how Burkina Faso made it on to our travel must-see list.
Surprisingly, as I began to research about the country, I found it had some interesting tourist attractions. Although few tourists. My son maintained we could do this trip without paying big bucks for a tour service so, begrudgingly; I let go of all planning and allowed him to put together our entire three-week itinerary. He would plan and I would pay.
This prospect, although frightening, turned out to be the best idea yet. Because it gave me the opportunity to watch my son lead – lead us in the same way he is a leader in the village he serves, a leader within the Peace Corp community, and a leader in pursuing sustainability on our planet.
What more could a mother hope for?
Well, there were a few things I could hope for, but I needed to learn to live without…little creature comforts like toilet paper, flushing, hot water. But this wasn’t everywhere we went, just certain areas. My thinking was if my son can live here for two years, I can live here for three weeks. And yet on the other end of the spectrum we also stayed in some very nice hotels, for reasonable prices and found all the comforts of home.
So Burkina was a study of contrasts for our “western” sensibilities…but look deeper into this country of 17 million people and here is where you see the real attraction. Happiness and joy, kindness and caring, pride and personality. A sense of neighborly community I haven’t seen since I was a child. A culture of hospitality, nobility and for the most part, social harmony.
Over the next few weeks I will write 2-3 blogs about specific aspects of our incredible journey. I hope you learn from them. Mostly I hope you are inspired by them – inspired to go places you have never considered, see things you never knew you wanted to see, and meet people who are so different, yet so much the same as us.
That is what I found in Burkina Faso – The Land of Honorable Men.