Now here it is- Easter Monday. The kids have the day off from school. And, as is typical on the weekends and holidays- my email is down. So, all messages for me today should be left for me on the comments section of the blog.
Now, how about a little more of the story of how I tried to pay our taxes here in Burkina? It was quite a challenge..
(If you just got here and missed it, go back to the March 19 post to begin the epic tale)
So, there I was, wandering around this huge building, without a clue as to what to do next. In my defence, I saw lots of Burkinabe folks in similar straits, looking just as miserable and confused as I did. So, it wasn’t just me being exceptionally clueless. It looked like no outsiders (also known as “taxpayers”) were being allowed any information that might actually help them to pay their taxes.
I randomly knocked on the door of an office. I played my role of the completely baffled foreigner to the hilt - a very sweet and vaguely stupid creature from a foreign land. Loosing your temper avails you nothing. Charm and calm carry the day. As a result, the fellow there took pity on me, left his mountain of dusty papers and actually guided me all the way to another big office and introduced me to the three people there.
I explained what I needed for the NINTH time.
They were very kind.
Of course, everyone until now had been kind- but they’d had no freaking clue how to really help me and had sent me all over town on a morning-long wild guinea fowl chase. (That's a wild goose chase, Burkina-style.)
But this crew seemed pretty convincing. They told me that Mme D- was no longer taking care of expat taxes (rats!) and that that function had been transferred to a building in Passpanga.
I went back down the stairs, alert for stray aliens carrying advanced weaponry (didn’t want to startle one and get accidentally disintegrated).
Back at the car, Mahama (our driver) had news: he’d gotten a phone call that said Valentine needed to be picked up at school right away. They’d been trying to contact me, but as I’d brilliantly left my cell phone at home, no one could get in touch with me. The message had just been to come and get my daughter. I had no idea if she was ill, injured , or perhaps expelled for excessive niceness, cuteness and brilliance. (She’s too wonderful to get expelled for any bad reason, of course!)
I couldn’t call easily or quickly, as Mahama had no calling credits in his phone.
Now, the strolling phone card vendors here in Ouaga are usually very present and very persistent. At almost every street corner they descend upon you en masse, waving their little wooden boards covered with the brightly-colored cards. Even after you have rejected the first one, and the second and the third, they keep coming- as though after rejecting five different vendors selling the exact same thing, you’d suddenly have some kind of streetside-shopping epiphany. As though the 20th person to wave his cards in your face in the last two minutes would open your stingy little heart and you’d say: I know I just mercilessly and without hesitation rejected every one of your card-selling buddies, but I like your looks! I’m going to buy one from YOU!
Of course, now that I actually really did desperately need to buy a card, there was only a scattering of vendors in sight - none of them selling the brand I needed. I didn’t waste time hunting around - we took off for the school, back at the city center.
That's all I have time for now. I'll try to wrap this up tomorrow.
It has a happy ending! Really!