If you ever have the opportunity to visit Burkina Faso, remind yourself that they are extremely paranoid and likely to arrest you for taking photos. Don’t believe me? Well let me tell you a little story that happened this past weekend.
It is Monday morning and we are in Ouagadougou to get out Ghana visas, on the way to the embassy we run into JW and Ludwig who have just handed theirs in – they had arrived on Thursday but only got to handing it in now – and were on their way to a nearby cafe to wait.
This is there story, as it is much more interesting than ours.
Getting into Burkina much quicker than we thought they would, they made their way to the capital. There they arrived on Thursday afternoon just too late for the embassy but receiving all the info we happy to return in the morning. Friday morning on their way in JW wanted to take a photo of all the cyclists and mopeds on the roads.
There are few cars in Burkina and just about everyone is on a bicycle or moped, makes for interesting driving especially in Jenny with her huge bull bar. Anyway, while JW was still focusing his camera for the photo, the army swept down on them and said they were not to take photos. Apparently they were too close to an army installation.
They arrested them and put them in cells for most of the day, not allowing them to contact anyone, explain themselves or drink water. They took the camera and wanted his car keys but he refused. By 4pm (arrested about 8am) they said they had to get water to drink out of the car, while doing this JW collected his mobile and when back in the cells he called the SA embassy in Morocco – the only number he had.
Realizing what he had done, they were angry that he had made a phone call, especially to the embassy. Then they finally spoke to them, they were taken to another building, kept waiting to see the big man who fortunately had a interpreter and only then could they explain themselves. They were accused of being South African spies – yep besides the fact that they are driving a SA car with SA plates and SA flags in the windows, not very good spies then. Eventually they were let off but their passports were kept and they had to report in the morning. So finally they got off but then again had missed the Ghana visa so now had to spend the entire weekend in Burkina. So by the time we got to them on Monday they were fed up and not waiting for anyone.
They were collecting their visas at 1pm and leaving Burkina that day.
Well there you go, all our little troubles with Jenny seem suddenly trivial.