He ironed my boxer shorts. There are three possible reasons for this:
a) He thought it is what us white folk do.
b) He was in a really good mood.
c) Its how Burkina men roll. Pressed.
Anyway, after two weeks of wearing the same trousers (I was considering a trip to the local hospital for some surgical removal) and coming scarily close to that ‘inside-out’ tactic, the guy at the local laundry has quickly risen up my ‘favourite people’ chart.
If only I could say the same about some of the shop assistants and waitresses in Burkina Faso. It is an irony I can’t get my head around. The Burkinabe have to be the cheeriest and most pleasant people on the planet. There isn’t a five minutes which goes by when someone doesn’t say, “Bonne arrive”, “Bon appétit”, “Ca va bien”. Regardless of wealth or status – everyone is the same. It makes you feel good about yourself and is my favourite thing about Burkina Faso. So when you go to get some food or buy some soap, someone definitely switched off the ‘happy tap’. An example. Today, Antoine drove me to the local bus station to check out the times of the buses for my weekend adventure (to be revealed). Anyway, minor details. On the way back, we stopped off at a typical ‘grocery store’ for Antoine’s weekly shop. As we were leaving, I realised I wanted a ‘Yaourt de sucre’. This little packet of sugary yoghurt has become a firm favourite following a recommendation from a friend. So, as I approach the counter, the man with the frown told me to go the adjacent counter. A normal request, if only the woman behind that counter wasn’t a sleep. “Well, can’t you serve me?”, “No, she will serve you”, “But she’s asleep?!” ......shrug of the shoulders. She awakes at this point and gives me a stare the Wicked Witch of the West (Africa) would shudder at. “Je suis desolee madamme pour reveiller” (bad French for Sorry to disturb your sleep). What am I doing?! I’m apologising for buying a yoghurt and waking her up at 2 in the afternoon! Its the same at the local cafes/restaurants. Sometimes you’d think that instead of asking for ‘Riz Sauce’, I asked, could I punch your mum.
So the Burkinabe. Nicest people on Earth – except in Tesco!