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What some travelers to West Africa are missing


lounging with a Tuareg family from Timbuktu in Bobo-Dioulasso

I have not yet posted the sequel to the piece on toits rouges. I was traveling to Burkina Faso, attending the FESPACO film festival and spending a few days in Bobo. I will finish that post up in the next few days, but right now I want to write a short note about something that I think some travelers to West Africa are missing out on.

I spent a good part of last Thursday laying on a carpet, taking tea, falling in and out of sleep, talking and joking with a family and a couple of friends. I spent Sunday doing more of the same, only with a few card games thrown in and the carpets moved to an outdoor patio to profit from the cool evening air.

Travelers who are chasing sights and attractions have a tendency to miss this — the simple pleasure of sitting and being with people. Perhaps they don’t know that you can make discoveries about a place while lounging around a living room. Maybe it sounds too much like “doing nothing.”

If you are planning on visiting the region, go ahead and pencil in some time to post up in a living room, under a tree, on a street corner, wherever, with new friends and the only objective being to enjoy each other’s company. It will be worthwhile. Promise.

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{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Stephanie Waasdorp March 5, 2013, 9:27 am

    Cool! This is the best about visiting new countries and this is why I don’t really like traveling from one recommended spot to the other… you miss the time to just be with people.

  • Monique March 5, 2013, 7:40 pm

    I’m all for being not doing……especially when I travel. All that ticking off places on maps and guidebooks, makes me dizzy.

  • Sophie March 6, 2013, 8:26 pm

    I once spent practically an entire day at a market in Harare, sitting on a crate, doing absolutely nothing. The world came to me – people selling popsicles, hardboiled eggs, beer, others just to chat. It has been about 15 years, but I still remember it vividly.

    • phil April 4, 2013, 4:38 am

      Sounds perfect!

  • Chantal March 11, 2013, 9:01 am

    Back in Europe yesterday after four weeks in Ouaga… harsch !! A collegue of mine was asking me before I left : “Four weeks… what are you going to do such a long time there ?!” Not understanding when I answered that I won’t travel anywhere, won’t visit any perticular site, won’t do any safari or so. “Just” lounge with friends, drink tea, talk, laugh, dream, drink a second tea, play with children, rebuild the world, smile to people I can’t communicate with, eat what comes around, drink a third tea, and so on. “Just” so much !!

    • phil April 4, 2013, 4:39 am

      Well said, Chantal!

  • sylvester April 3, 2013, 7:23 pm

    You seem to do a lot of travelling, ever been to Nigeria ?

    • phil April 4, 2013, 4:39 am

      not yet!

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