Bobo Djellasso


I have moved on, to a new country and now stay in Bobo Djellasso, in Burkina Faso. It is lush and green compared to Mali, and as the seasons change, mangos are dripping off of the trees. Plantains and avocados are also plentiful, and very available to buy from off the top of the heads of women all over the place, in big baskets. I am staying here to learn about how to do lost wax bronze casting. It is exciting both to learn this new technique and to have a chance to stay in one place an make art. The best part about it is that the kiln that we use to heat up the bronze is not powered by electricity, but by charcoal and a bicycle wheel pushing air through a fire. Though it is a lot of work, I could repeat the process on San Juan Island or in Berkeley easily without buying anything expensive. We also use bronze from old faucets, watches, and bits of cans. It is fun to be part of such good use of recycles materials.

I am living with a family, not just renting a room. It is a bit more of a culture shock than any other living situation I have had here before. It is fun to greet the old grandparents in the morning, a man and three wives, all of them very old. After a week, I am still completely unsure how many people live here, but including children there is at least 20 at any given time.  I have no personal space though, and it seems to everyone to be perfectly normal to ask me where I am at all times, as well as to come into my room constantly just to hang out, and probably sleep on my floor too. I am finding ways to get space, but it is a bit different.

The other night I heard drumming outside my door at midnight, and went out to investigate. There was a little festival going on because an old man died in the neighborhood, and people were doing really crazy traditional dances. I danced too, and somehow knew the dance, which surprised both me and everyone there.

I also went to a wedding a few days ago, which was pretty hilarious. The bride was lying on a glittery gold bed who’s posts were resting on heads of four men who were dancing together, in cync. It was incredible enough to see her way up in the air on a bed, but she was also wearing a lime green dress, a red bowler hat, sunglasses, and had two multicolored pompoms in her hands that she was swaying around casually.

The little daily moments of the incredible and the bizarre that I am always learning from are what keep me happy here, though I often don’t feel like I can trust people very well which is challenging to me. I made a list of the words in French that I constantly need to know and don’t yet, and then read them and didn’t know wether to laugh or cry because the were: Trust, Lies, Dirty, Old, Sweat, and Broken. Ahhhh, Africa.

But there are other words that I do know, in Jula, the local language here, and use everyday- Dance, Heat, Beautiful, Plantains, Mango.




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5 responses to “Bobo Djellasso

  1. Brett Poirier

    Great to get this update and glad life and art is going so well for you there!

  2. Bob & Mel

    What amazing experiences, Maria! So glad you are making your art & learning so much. We are proud of you.
    Much love, m & b

  3. Debbie Kaye

    You are a remarkable and brave traveler, Maria. The wedding description almost defies imagination! I am so glad for you that you’re learning another technique. Do you know that Granddad Mike was a lost wax jeweler? He made Uncle Ted’s and my wedding rings, and many other things. love, Aunt Debbie

  4. cinnie

    love hearing about your adventures, keep those tales coming , a
    nd hope you are getting photos, like of the wedding.

  5. liza

    Wow, In so few sentences you mange to convey both how great it is for you in Bobo, and how difficult; and you didnt even mention the heat…which seems to be consistently well over 100..
    I love the description of the bride with her lazy pompoms, and good on you for getting up at midnight to check out the drumming!! How do you explain knowing a traditional dance without being taught???
    Seems like you landed in a super valuable spot, and also that Ghana will feel like heaven with the English all around, and old friends..
    I love and ADMIRE you..
    So glad you are feeling healthy..
    LOVE and Mexican colors,

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