1,875 km later, the 2nd annual Burkina bike tour has come to a close with its arrival in Ouagadougou to help kick off the festivities at the Peace Corps 50th anniversary fair. I was able to participate in the last week of the tour (600+km) and really enjoyed the opportunity to see so many places, get a sense for some other PCV projects, and of course to test my riding endurance.
My favorite part of the bike tour was that in almost every stop along the way, we had some sort of event upon our arrival. Sometimes it was just a meeting with a local business owner, while others were health information sessions, tree plantings, or dancing. Jamming in all of these events back-to-back was really uplifting and a fun thing to be a part of, especially as a typical week for me rarely involves more than one big event. It wasn’t always easy however. Constant 3:30 or 4am wakeup times, a few incredibly hot days, logistics for 20+ participants, rain, and other obstacles made it quite an exhausting time.
One of the best events for me came from the dancing event in a small village in the East, hosted by Doug. Doug explains the day best in his bike tour post here, but essentially he designed an event to illustrate equal gender roles through dancing. He explained it thusly:
…[W]e PCVs met up with large group of Burkinabe children lured by the twin enticements of candy and strange-looking foreigners. We split up into six groups, each one composed of a mix of local kids and PCVs, and each one given a village-life theme such as “farming,” “soccer,” or “food preparation.” The groups were then assigned the task of creating a dance based around their theme. Some groups had difficulty at first, especially those with smaller children who spoke little French, but after a few icebreaker games for teams to get to know each other begin bonding, they were all off on their choreographic mission at top speed. After an hour of planning and practice, a good number of community members had wandered into the health center courtyard to see what all this dancing fuss was about, including several previously invited local officials and traditional drummers. We gathered everyone in a shady area, talked for a bit about the bike tour and its goals, introduced all the riders, and then got dancin’.
Another reason I enjoyed the dancing so much was all of the opportunities for photo taking. After our organized dances, the kids of the village danced for another couple of hours and were incredible. This image below may have taken over as my new favorite photo I’ve taken in Peace Corps so far:
For a closer look at our day-to-day life on the bike tour, check out the official bike tour blog (or at least be sure to read the post I wrote about our 116km day from Tenkodogo to Beka). I plan on participating again next year, but next time hope to be able to do the whole thing, and break the 2,000km barrier.