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The truck rolls on and we're ready to leave Mali. Our next destination, Burkina Faso, rarely grabs the world's attention. Most people haven't heard of this country and didn't notice when, in 1983, Captain Thomas Sankara seized power and renamed the country Burkina Faso (from Upper Volta). Burkina Faso means "Land of the Incorruptible." This country should be famous for place names. The capital city, Ouagadougou, always challenges the tongue (It's pronounced waga-doo-goo). Tonight we stop in another town with an interesting name, Bobo Dioulasso, but first we need to cross the border into Burkina Faso. Each border post is separated by a few kilometers and has two stops, one for a vehicle check and another for passport control. The Malians let us leave without fuss, but the Burkina border guards run us around. They make us get off the truck and walk single file across the border post. After that circus sideshow, we drive in a southerly direction for 400 km, through constant police checkpoints. The brown semi-desert land of the north gives way to woodland and savanna, and then we reach sugar-cane and rice fields of Burkina's southern region. The greenery shocks us after so many days in desert.
Goodbye Malian desert.
Turbans: useful to keep off the sun and especially handy on bad hair days.
Africans: surefire gold winners in the Olympic field event, balancing-things-on-your-head.
US aid reaches remote areas. These days we need as much goodwill as possible. These are bags of cornmeal from Iowa. We heard one story about the US sending crates of powdered milk. Most Africans are lactose intolerant and became sick from the milk. They ended up using the stuff as whitewash for homes. Every little bit helps.