The border crossing from Ghana to Burkina Faso took much longer than we'd anticipated. Loads of forms and paperwork, and no one in any particular hurry. There were also several stages to the process: confirming the papers for taking a car out of the country, then customs control, then passport control for leaving Ghana. Next passport control for entering Burkina, then customs control, then confirming the paperwork for bringing a car across the border. The uniformed guys were at their swaggering best although Sammie tried his best to charm them. In Burkina passport control, while we sitting around waiting for the policeman to enter our details by hand into a huge ledger, a real motorcycle pulled into the area in front of the office, so we popped out to see where he was headed. He was the first motorcyclist we had seen wearing protective gear of any kind (even a helmet). This was a well-seasoned BMW being ridden by a Nederlander from Amsterdam to Accra; a two-month expedition on his own. He had about a week left to do what we had done in less than two days, and was enjoying his meander through Africa. What a trip. He was astounded to hear that we were planning to go to Bamako and back in little over a week. That made us start to reconsider our plans, although we still wanted to get to Mali, even if we didn't make the capital city.
Once across the border, we made fairly good progress, although large stretches of the road were unmetalled, and huge potholes often slowed us to less than walking pace. We did not stop for lunch, thinking we would get to Ouagadougou for a late lunch. We actually got there at about 6 pm. We had made for a 5-star hotel where the food was reputed to be the best around here. The hotel was built by the Libyans, along with a lot of the neighbouring buildings, which were on a grand scale, but surrounded by squalor. The drive through the outskirts and the city centre revealed a vast city of quite surprising proportions for such a poor country. The government, it seems, are systematically flattening the traditional mud-hut settlements and displacing the local people, so that they can build masses of ugly 6-storey concrete things. The boulevards are wide and straight, with a separate lane for the numerous bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles. There are traffic lights, street lights, all amenities of a modern city. It was quite a change after driving past hundreds of mud-hit settlements. But not everything is finished and the quality of the construction is typically shoddy in most places.
After dinner, we got a taxi into the town centre, after bartering about the fare from 10,000 to 4,000 of the local currency (700 to the pound) and asked the taxi drive to take us to a bar with music. This was how we found ourselves drinking beer and watching Les Freres Diarra, a really good local band that plays the kind of music I like best from this region. After being hassled to buy CDs, trinkets and other rubbish, we managed to get a taxi back for only 3,000 which made Sam happy. We spent a very happy night in our swish hotel, and had a great breakfast the next day.