Tengrela, December 24, 2008 - Wednesday
Trip Start Dec 18, 2008
79Trip End Jan 18, 2009
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As for the lake itself, even if it’s not precisely what you may call a king size one, yes, it is a lake. Albeit pretty shallow in most of the area it covers. And it’s quite pretty. But I doubt people would be visiting it much were it not for the hippos congregating occasionally in one of its deeper corners. But according to what I heard, the chances to see hippos after five or six in the morning are very slim. By the time lazy western tourists arrive there, hippos have long retreated somewhere into the thick growth around the lake and don’t bother showing up in the slightest
And that’s how it was when we got there. Tengrela lake is part of a preserve, only some seven kilometres away from Banfora, that requires paying for admission and that’s what we did, of course. Next to the lake there’se quite a few old thick trees with dark green leaves and in the shade of one such group of trees some local guys set up a ticket booth and an outdoors café. Which basically consisted of few low wooden tables and several wooden chairs around them. You can’t claim that it was exactly crowded by the lake at the time of our arrival. I’m talking about tourists, of course. Unless you count two chipper Chinese guys as a crowd.
Entrance ticket fee included a boat ride, too. Oumar checked around for a boatman and then told us that he would be there „soon". As we were in no hurry anyway, we could wait just fine. And while we were waiting, a 4x4 with French licence plates pulled in and two white guys came out. One of them looked at Oumar, Oumar looked back at him and then they both shouted for joy and surprise. They started hugging each other and blabbering in French no end. Then they hugged each other again and so on it went for several minutes. Everyone looked at them with a degree of interest. At one point the French guy turned to me and said something
„Sorry, I don’t speak French.“
But he spoke a solid English, even if with a strong French accent. So he just switched over effortlessly:
„Ah, OK. Sorry for interruption,“ he said. „Oumar’s an old friend and we’ve not seen each other for fifteen years.“
„Don’t worry,“ I answered. „We’re in no hurry.“
So they continued hugging each other and chattering for a while longer. And then the French guys got back into their 4x4 and lit out same way as they’d come. Well, Oumar did seem to be quite respected. It was pretty obvious. And from what little I knew about him, I could attest to it that it was thoroughly deserved.
After a while a lanky local appeared and Oumar identified him as out boatman
A woman was washing her laundry in this same shallow, merely a step or two away from us and watched us with what at best could be termed as mild interest only. If she was there more often, and I bet that she was, then she’d seen ridiculous western tourists and such scenes more than once. Pretty much unfazed, she did her laundry and I was wondering if it would be any cleaner than before after this brown and murky water treatement.
As we were pulling out in the direction of the open water, another pirogue was coming in
As in many places all over the world, when you deal with shallow waters, people use long poles to move their boats by pushing against the bottom. The same case was here. Our boatman was slowly working his way across the lake and after a while he even poled it over, close to the spot where hippos usually come when they take a dip. However, right now the greatest attraction was water vegetation. Big tulip-like flowers with thick and long stalks, some others looking like water lilies and flat, broad leaves, apparently floating on the lake surface, very much resembling Chinese lotus. Maybe they were all exactly that – tulips, lilies and lotus
And that was it. After a while, this pleasure lake excursion came to its end. It was now time to go back to Banfora.
On our way back we passed through the Tengrela village. In terms of what it could to show, there was not much to see. Or maybe I was gradually getting used to African villages by now. Be that as it may, the most interesting feature of this particular village were people. So I had an impression that finally we were dealing with a real, living village, not a settlement artificially kept and preserved in its form for the sake of odd foreigner’s euro or dollar. There were kids cavorting around at the sight of us, gesticulating in an agitated manner in our direction. There were adults going about their own business, albeit in a very leisurely pace. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone at this heat. Women were going places carrying stuff on their heads as is commonplace all over Burkina Faso, as I could see by now. And some of them were washing laundry in a roadside pond, not a single bit cleaner than the lake itself.
A thought came to my mind and I wondered what had got its name after what. Was it the lake after the village or the other way around? Not that it mattered any. I was just curious. But it was going to be one of those puzzles which would, at least for me, remain unresolved forever.