1. Cultural atmosphere and local geography (language, ethnicities, characteristics) -
Somebody once told me that “Bobo’s,” or Burkinabe who have spent a significant amount of time in Bobo and have adopted some of the “Bobolaise” mannerisms, are the most hospitable Burkinabe, and perhaps one of the most hospitable groups of people, in the world. Strangers are welcome in general, and just about anyone from strangers to neighbors are always invited to drink tea or some bissap and eat food. In every neighborhood, you will see mini block parties of tea drinkers, old ladies out walking, school kids in clumps – to a degree not to be found in many other villes or villages. Bobo is social. That said – some PCVs say that Bobo also holds the highest rate of Faux Types, merchant hawkers, and the like, on the hunt to chat it up, or sell something to a “Tubabu” (that’s you). French and Jula are spoken in Bobo, along with Bobo (a dialect) and many other regional dialects. Bobo is often called the commercial capital of Burkina. You can get almost anything that you can get in Ouaga (OK – no Jimmy’s Bar, or Ice Cream like there is at Chez Simone). In general prices for things are a little cheaper than Ouaga. It is also much more temperate in Bobo (not too hot not too cold) due to lots of greens, trees, etc…in and around the area.
2. How to get there and away: (bus with schedules, prices, taxi brousse). Assuming that you need to get to Bobo from Ouaga here are some big names
OUAGA - BOBO
STMB tel 50 31 44 72
TCV tel 50 30 13 03
SOGEBAF tel 50 34 42 55
TSR tel 50 34 25 24
3. Places to stay in Bobo Dioulasso… There are many more than these – but here is a start….
Casa Africa – Great because it is literally one block from the Bobo PC House if you like to have a 3 minute commute to work (if you came to Bobo to work that is). PVC’s will pay 3000 (if there is 1 person) or 4000 cfa (for 2 volunteers) per night if staying in an outside room where you will have to share showers. You'll pay 4000 (alone) or 5000 cfa per night (if there are 2 people) if you are staying in an inside room with your own shower and sink. They have pretty good meals, coffee, bread. The rooms are fine - nothing special.
Hotel La Pacha - This is another good option if you want to be close to the Bobo house, located on the goudron just a little after SIFA. Rooms go for between 4000 and 15,000 per night. Most often (as we are poor volunteers) you'll be in a cheaper room meaning you'll be sharing bathrooms.
Hotel Auberge Secteur 1 ( Mission Apostolique ) - Also on the cheaper side – 3500cfa for one person ( you get a room usually with two beds ) sharing bathroom and showers etc…Rooms for 10.000cfa available with air conditioning.
Relax – On the more expensive side beginning around 15.000 – 30.000cfa. It has a pool.
Hotel 421 – On the more expensive side 12.000 – 17.000cfa, has private BRs. Restaurant downstairs, and a nightclub? Dancehall? In the basement.
Hotel Splendide – ( By Ouezzinville) The selling point here is the swimming pool – ah, Heaven! Even if you aren’t staying here – shell out the 1000cfa price to go for a dip in the pool. It is worth it.
Hotel Renaissance - Located downtown with decent rooms available for 5000 cfa per night.
Hotel Oasis - Located across from Bonne Miche downtown with decent rooms for 7000 cfa per night. Shower, sink, and toilet in each room.
4. La Grande Poste
Hard to miss – right off of the Place de la Nation. Operating hours are from 7:30 AM – 11:30AM and 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM. The stamp-selling ladies always seem to be snippy – and matronly. If you need a package wrapped, or need envelopes, or other stationary supplies – there is a mini librairie with nice relaxed people in it, that the snippy post ladies can point you to (if you are facing the post office it is to your dead right – and across a street ).
5. Grand Marche Plus Tubabu Marche (Marina Market and Cobodim)
There are many marches in Bobo – but let’s talk about the big one – the Grande Marche. It has just about everything you need in it to live in Burkina from cloth to plastic buckets, jewelry and nailpolish remover, to sewing shears and gas lamps. My favorite thing about it is it has a nice varied selection of veggies and fruits. It’s also fun to hang out in the meat stalls if you like to see your cut of fresh meat being chopped right there, and be splattered with bits of gristle and bones (not recommended for the vegetarians). If the grand marche is too intimidating or you don’t have the time to hassle with it, nearly every neighborhood has a pretty comprehensive marche somewhere – just ask. Also worth noting is the Marche de Fruits – that is on the road that leads to the Airport towards Banfora and Oradara. (You’ll see a sign pointing off to the right that says “MARCHE DE FRUITS”). Piles of mangoes, oranges, bananas, ignames, and patates live there in season.
Also to note is the Marina Market – a very Western style supermarket with lots of Arabic imports, cheeses, chocolate, wine, alcohol, doodads and tchatchkis for your hut in village, etc…. Haggling for prices is not allowed. Cousin to Marina Market is Cobodim, which has much the same selection in terms of goods. It is located catty corner to the Southwest corner of the Marche. Haggling for prices is not allowed here either.
UBIQUITOUS You can get your rice and sauce, achekeh, fish, to and sauce, cokes, fantas, and snacks on almost every corner. Most larger buvettes have eats in the afternoons and evenings (but here were a few notables from the recommendations and favorites of Bobo Stage Goers)
La Pacha – Personal favorite – has pizzas, Middle Eastern food/ French cuisine, and is on the pricey side. It faces the Gare by the Marche de Fruits.
Trois Karite – Reasonable priced, tasty African fare. Located 2 block down from Casa Africa on the road to Banfora.
Sidwaya – Hard to miss, as it is right next to the giant train station “Le Gare” not to be confused with various other bus stations. Sprawling tables set in a garden space – prices are not outrageous and it is mostly general Burkinabe restaurant fare (some salads, brochettes, sandwiches, soups, rice plates, french fries, plantains, and other such side dishes, and a selection of beers, soft drinks, yogurt available too)
Campignarde – Famous for it’s brochettes, also has a pretty good salad. Much the same fare as Sidwaya, similar prices, but brochettes are raved about by the meat eaters.
Oscars – The ice cream joint. Also serves cold drinks, beers, and has a small selection of Western foods.
Bonne Miche - Nice, not too expensive, pastry shop across from Oscar's.
Dan Kan - Located a block behind Oscar's, this place has reasonably priced African dishes.
French Cultural Center - This is not far past the Poste and has reasonable to expensive prices European and African dishes available.
8. Street food and Snacks
Like above, all over the place – but here are some things to watch out for in season …
June/July chenilles (caterpillars) - They come fried – and are eaten crunchy like french-fries – or can be put in a baguette for a caterpillar sandwich
November/January “wusu” or white sweet potatoes sold boiled, with salt and piment
Imports from Cote D Ivoire “aloco” or fried plantains, coconuts, all bananas.
9. Bars – There are Many Many…. Again – the favorites from the Bobo Stagiere Goers These are all Bars you can Dance in….
Entente Plus – 1000cfa cover per person for drinking and dancing inside (drinks not included in that). Music good on a regular basis.
Macoumba – Cover charge 1000cfa per person – about same as above.
Fashion Café – Cover charge seems to be high around 1000 or 1500cfa depending on music or event.
Jardin D’Eden – Cover charge depends – 300cfa is usually asked… can be avoided if you are sneaky or stubborn. Music deafeningly loud, but not bad – just don’t expect to talk.
Oxygene – Haven’t been there but supposedly a fun place – expect cover charge of 1000cfa as usual.
10. Internet –
There are many many – but here are two favorites….La Grande Poste ( 500cfa per hour) Another one is located a block behind Marina Market, across from the SGBB bank. It is also 500 cfa/hour and has all sorts of little gadgets, free for your use, available at each computer.
From personal experience, I (and a few other Bobo 2003 Stagiares) can recommend one – named Antoine. His shop is in Accartville North. To get there, get a taxi to go just past the bar “Jardin D’Eden” in that neighborhood and drop you off at the road just after Jardin D’Eden you will see a mini bar called CP1. Walk approximately 2 blocks in on that CP1 road, and on the left hand side – you will see a mango tree surrounded by lots and lots of mud bricks. The door to the tailor is right by that tree – ask someone sitting in the street if you can’t find him.
12. Recreational Activities
Centre Culturel Francaise – You can always swing by to see what is going on in terms of exhibits/ art / music – or just sit in their garden to study or read.
Cine Sanyon – For movies – off of Ave. de la Republique. Usually 1000 cfa per movie. Can often find a movie schedule in Hotel Oasis.
Place de la Nation Musee Provincial – On Place de la Nation like the name says – I have not visited, but it is worth a look.
Grande Mosque – Right off of Place de la Revolution – there are probably many Faux Typey Types who will offer to take you there if you express interest – so finding it shouldn’t be hard.
13. Other – TAXIS
During day hours should charge 200 cfa, 300 cfa if you are going really really far. At night (after 9:00) 300 cfa is what you should pay to go anywhere. Wee wee morning hours – prices mount but should NEVER surpass 500cfa. If you have a heavy travelers bags or a bike expect to pay another 100 or 200cfa. Try never to take a taxi out of a gare – better to walk a block and get someone who won’t try to milk you for a tourist.