beyond the end of the world

Oursi Travel Blog

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playing cards

The next morning we left for Oursi. I felt kinda guilty showing up for breakfast all clean and refreshed from sleeping in an A/C room, taking a shower (there finally was running water) and putting on all clean clothes, when our friends were already obviously suffering from the heat, and my boyfriend being out of clean clothes alltogether apparantly (and he won't let me or anyone else do his laundry). Not that my condition would last long ;) It was about 47-48 degrees, and we were headed to Gorom Gorom, the end of the world according to some guidebooks, and beyond.

When we'd just left Dori, we got stopped by a gendarm (is there an English word for that?). There was some talking and then everyone got out of the car. Somewhat alarmed, and trying to recall where I put my passport, I asked my boyfriend what was wrong.

"Nothing," he explained, "he just wanted us to give him a ride to Gorom." And the reason they got out of the car was to load his luggage in the trunk...

So the next part of the trip, I was travelling with two guides, a driver, and police protection just for me. Not that the latter is needed in Burkina in the daytime, but my boyfriend had been talking about travelling escorted by gendarmes from Markoye to Gao in Mali through rebel territory, so it seemed kind of fitting.

Then we entered the Sahel Reserve. I'm sure it's one of the toughest areas in the world to live, but at the same time it was so incredibly beautiful. The end of the world indeed. Nothing but sand and tough treas and bushes all around us, dotted with little mudbrick and straw houses here and there. We hardly saw any people, but lots of goats, donkeys and birds. No giraffes, you have to get even farther away from inhabited areas for that I guess.

We had lunch and bought some supplies in Gorom Gorom. The town is known for its legendary, colourful thursday market, but on an ordinary saturday it was just a dusty, sleepy desert town. Nothing special, really.

Oursi looked more special immedeately. After all, if Gorom Gorom is the end of the world, Oursi must be in a different world alltogether. Not hard to believe when you're there. Though to be honest, I got the same otherworldly feeling in Bani further south. The lake was almost completely dried up. There were still a lot of animals around it though. They were not the only ones who were thirsty. The water we had brought was almost as hot as tea by the time we got to Oursi. So we went to look for a campement where we should be able to get cold drinks. The first one we came by didn't have any, at the second one we got our car stuck in the sand before we saw it was deserted. We managed to get it unstuck with some help of the neighbours, who told us where to find someone who had a key to the campement. It turned out the only cold drink they had was beer (fine for me, but somewhat odd in a village where nearly everyone is a muslim), and one bottle of water, which got finished quickly. It was the last one we would find that day. Normally they should've gotten fresh supplies from Gorom, but not that day as it was the first of may. In the evening, I even dared to drink some water from a well, much to my boyfriend's horror. But I don't see how not drinking at all is more healthy, or why I am so much more likely to get sick from it than local people. I didn't, by the way.

But there is one drink that doesn't need to be drank cold. Well, I guess there are several, but only one that's really popular in the Sahel. Tea. And I'm not talking about what is called "thé Lipton" in Burkina, but the traditional drink. It comes with a whole ceremony. The tea has to boil for hours, and then they pour it from one glass to another repeatedly before putting it back into the teapot. The tea is drank in three rounds with slightly different flavours. Everyone gets a small glass and you're supposed to down it fast, like vodka. The first round tastes quite bitter, but the next ones are nicer.

We had tea, dinner and played cards at a friend's house and then went out into the desert to sleep there. We'd brought tents but didn't take them because it was so hot. But we didn't think of the wind. The sand really irritated my longues and I got trouble breathing. It was like I got an asthma attack or was hyperventilating or something, I don't know. I found out after a while that I was OK just as long as I breathed through my sleeve, or through my nose with my mouth closed. Which was not easy because my nose was all bloqued from sleeping with airco the night before. I knew I would never be able to sleep. After a while, my boyfriend couldn't bear my constant coughing and wheezing anymore and suggested we go back to the village. I gladly accepted, though I also felt quite embarrased that everyone had gone out to the desert and then back just on my account, especially since Pathé had to go look for Albert and Hama in the dark desert because they'd decided to give us some privacy. Anwyay, we went back to Deputé's house for a good night's sleep. We probably should never have left in the first place.

 

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playing cards
playing cards
Oursi Sights & Attractions review
wonderful as long as you don't have breathing problems
The desert is the main reason to come to Oursi. I'd already been the the Sahara further north in Tunisia, and to the Gobi desert, but it was still rea… read entire review
Oursi
photo by: seraphimkarlien