Location: 12º20’55.2″N, 1º35’03.8″W
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa
Weather Conditions: Sunny, 84F (28C)
The morning of our departure (Friday, January 7 – we had 4:00pm flights), Jeff Olsen and his crew from KARE-11, a local news station, stopped by the University of Minnesota to interview the team for an upcoming Extra story [airing this Thursday, January 14th] and to bid us a hearty farewell. During the morning, the Earthducation team was able to share with Jeff the goal of our seven-continent project and why there is a need for a global narrative describing the intersections between education and sustainability. Not one to shy away from the camera (he’s a news reporter!), Jeff recorded his own perspectives on education and sustainability within the EnviroNetwork during his visit. Check out, too, why Jeff believes sustainability is important and how his children have influenced his thinking. While you are in the network, record your thoughts. Don’t be shy!
After checking in 14 bags of gear at the Minneapolis International Airport, we were off on the first of the three-leg journey to Africa. First, we flew from Minneapolis, MN to Toronto, Canada and then quickly boarded the plane from Toronto to Paris, France. Although we boarded the plane on time, issues with the plane had us sitting on the tarmac in Toronto for over two hours prior to our departure. This delay gave Charlie enough time to watch the movie, MegaMind, while the rest of the team caught up on some much needed sleep. After a safe arrival in Paris we were then off to our destination, Burkina Faso, the country that a United Nations’ report (2010) ranked 161 out of 169 countries for the poorest quality of life indicators (income, infant mortality, literacy, life expectancy, etc.)
We did have a little excitement landing in Burkina Faso. As our plane was just about to land, the engines were thrusted and the plane lunged up back into the air – we had missed the landing strip! Aaron, Charlie, and Justin laughed as Romaric held his stomach – Romaric hates landings ☺. After a quick turnaround, the captain tried landing the plane again and we were soon on the ground safely in Burkina.
The welcome we received at the airport was simply unbelievable. When we mentioned in the first field update that Romaric was well-connected, we were not exaggerating. Fifteen-plus people welcomed Team Earthducation to Burkina, and, of course, all enthusiastically greeted Romaric back home.
After the conversation and well wishes, our first challenge was to locate all of our bags. The airport is undergoing renovation so it was a bit more difficult than we had anticipated – fortunately, all of our bags arrived. Whew. It was now time to experience Burkina. With Romaric as our guide, we were ready to go.
Once we left the airport, Romaric’s friend, Mady, drove us to Romaric’s Uncle Tambi’s beautiful home. The drive provided us with our first night impressions of Ouagadougou that we would have to sum up in one word – MOPEDS! At any given time during the drive, at least a dozen mopeds and 5-6 people riding bicycles surrounded the car, a common sight night or day in the bustle of Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso.
At Tambi’s home, his family welcomed us with a feast consisting of roasted guinea hen, pasta, and Brakina, one of Burkina Faso’s three main native lagers (beer). While we were eating, Tambi and Romaric shared with us a preview of our meeting agenda during the next few days. For months prior to our arrival, Tambi played a vital role in arranging these upcoming meetings, which include the King, the Minister of Basic Education and Literacy, and the Secretary General of Secondary Higher Education and Scientific Research (wow!).
fresh water. After lunch, we went back to focusing on motorcycles. The 600cc motorcycle seemed to be perfect size and thus, Charlie and Aaron have decided to rent them for the journey around the country.