Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Report of what it's like to live there - 08/03/08

Personal Experiences from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 08/03/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No: Abu Dhabi, Ulaanbaatar, Addis Ababa.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 1/2 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

If you go to Ouagadougou you always have to stop in Paris and then to Ouaga.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

All houses have a tall wall around the house. Pretty much all the houses have only one story. Except for more expensive houses. If you're in the embassy and you have kids that go to the International School of Ouagadougou then they try to move you so that you can walk to school (they also have a bus for embassy kids).

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

A couple months ago the prices were going REALLY high and everyone was protesting. It was dangerous, but it's over now.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are no fast foods, but in pretty much every restaurant there are french fries!!! (pomme frites) There are pizza places. Some pizza places are Gondwana, Le Verdoyant (very good spaghetti also) and Paradisio.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Most people have a gardener, a cook, a nanny or a house keeper (nannies are called nunus).

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We had AFN which was a military channel. You can also get DSTV which is South African and is great. I don't know about the costs.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Just the names of places, numbers and basic questions and greetings.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are lots of dirt roads and it's not that smooth. There are no elevators that I have seen.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Like the U.S.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The taxis are safe but maybe a little fast. They were affordable. You can take a bus from Ouaga to like Togo or somewhere like that. Not all of public transportation is safe.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

For going to the country I suggest a four wheel drive. (especially in the rainy season.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

We had Speed Touch Connection and I don't know the costs.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cell phones are easy to use and lots of people have them.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

To have skype. It's cheap and the connection is good.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

They have a vet that can give shots and medicine and all that. But they don't have everything so you sometimes have too ship stuff like microchips for dogs. They don't board dogs, but you can get someone to watch your pets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Lots of shorts and t-shirts. It's hot!!

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No. You can hire a guard to guard your house. All the time I have lived there I have only heard of one robbery.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Dry season (around fall and winter and maybe spring) and rainy season (around summer and maybe spring).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I went to the International School of Ouagadougou (ISO) and I LOVED it!!!! It has amazing teachers,a great principal, an awesome director and amazing students. Every year they have a musical for grades 4-12. You can audtion if you want to. The school is from grades K-12. The grades are combined. K and grade 1 are combined. Grade 2 and 3. Grade 4 and 5. (that was my class) Grades 6, 7 and 8 and grades 9,10,11 and 12. I don't know much about highschool classes. You study French.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

You can go see crocodiles (and pet them) elephants, antelope and TONS of lizards and geckos!! They also have a Mask Festival with some other embassy families. It's really amazing!!

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are a lot of antiques you can get there like wood or metal carvings, jewelry, hand made shoes and clothes and stuff like that. The best place to get it is at Village de Artisans off Charles De Gaulle.

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9. Can you save money?

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Of course.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter jackets, but you might want to bring some long sleeve shirts.

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3. But don't forget your:

Rain coat and umbrella.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I loved it and I bet if you're going there you'll love it too. Have fun!!

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