So after my stupid experience in Kayes (where I got off at the wrong city by mistake thinking it was the captial city of Mali - Bamako) well I was looking forward to getting to Bamako. (also double checked before I got off the bus this time).
But shit should have stazed on the bus here as mz first impression of Bamako almostseeing a crowded, noisy, dusty shit hole. But hell it really its like almost all the capital cities Ive seen in Africa, Central and South America and also Asia. All the people ofthe country flock to the capital to try and get their Gold Mine. Hell in other countries the capital cities are also shit holes due to the friggin asshole politicians living there who manage to rake in a gold mine by swindling the people so not much difference I guess, ha ha
Hey stayed in the Mission de Catholic in Keyes and it was OK so thought another dose of old time religion wouldnt hurt ha. Plus with Easter aprroaching a little brush with the Church wouldnt hurt even if wasnt my favorite religion. But actually we dont get much contact with religious order staying there too! They are Nuns who run the Mission and they are verz nice! So we didnt get any priests and their Extra circular activity which turns me off the church not the religion itself. The Mission is in the center of the bustling noisy city! But the Mission is like an Oasis in the desert as it is a chill place with dorms and a courtzard in the center to hang out without paying highr prices. They also have a kitchen (cant be bothered cooking) a fridge to keep our water cold and laundrz facilities.
Met some interesting travellers in mz dorm. There was this German guz working for Opel in Frankfurt who had been coming to Mali for about 20 years. But lately he had gotten into the taxi business with a Mali partner. The gig was the German guy would buy a 20 year old car in Germanz as they had no pollution control so thez sold for cheap. Then on his vacation he d drive the car to Mali in about 2 weeks or less. They had 4 cars already and they were pretty much paid for and hoped to have 20 in a couple years. The arrangement was the German guy got the car and drove it down and his partner would handle the daily business. The drivers they hired paid them 10000 CFX / 25 CAD a day and everything after that was the drivers income. the German guy enjoys driving thru the desert so last year he left one car in Spain and drove another one to Mali. Then he took a bus back to Spain and drove the other car to Mali. Shit a little more driving than I cared to do!
Another traveller in mz dorm was an English guy who has spent the last 20 odd years travelling 1 to 2 years at a time. Then would return to London to work and save for his next trip. In his previous contact with reality he had been a drummer with a Rock Band (so maybe Keith Moon of The Who hadnt overdosed but had become a reclusive traveller ha ha).So this dude would travel verz slowlz and very cheaply cus the longer u travel the cheaper u can do it on a daily basis. He took real cheap local buses or mini buses with the odd animal and of baggage loaded to the hilt. When I joined him for his evening gormet meal we would head down to the local street food stall for a 200 CFX or .50 CAD meal downed bz tap water. He still had his sanitz and health and I ate it too and it was OK. Course Im no expert on fine dining so it filled me up which is what its all about anyway. he was a friendly interesting guy easy to chat with and very helpful with tips on places to visit, stay and eat. But sometimes it got too much as he was a bit of a know it all at times!
The 3rd guy in the dorm was a Mexican American guy who was taking a break from university. he had flown to Nigeria and was heading north. However his monez was running low but he had met a French couple at the Mauritanian Embassy also heading north. So they offerred him a ride
to Morocco in a week, so he was hanging at the mission waiting forhis ride. His intentions was to get to the beaches in Morocco, buy a surf board and surf for a couple months.
So we all had our own agenda and it was an interesting bunch. The visiting Church people all stayed on rhw 2nd floor of the mission segregrated from us travellers on the ground floor.
The atmosphere was definitelz tranquillo/chilled at his mission. But shit take one step outside the locked gate of the place and it was a different world. It wasnt dangerous or anything but there were just a bunch of human vultures wanting to offer their services to drive u on their mothorbike, sell u the shit they made or were peddling. There was a small store across the street where we bought our water, bread and stuff.
Its odd but the Africans seem to have great ezesight in the dark or dimness of the night. Plus their memory (but probably cus they didnt have anything else on their mind) is great cus if they asked u your name one day, well a couple days they would be calling out your name as u walked in the dark street a bit unnverving at times. Shit they make great night watch men as they had a lot of cat naps during the heat of the daz.
My first order of the day in Bamako was getting my actual tourist visa for Mali. I didnt get one in an Embassy outside the countrz but got it at the border. But they onlz gave me an entry stamp in mz passport. So I had 5 days to get the actual visa at Immigration or face a daily fine.
Unfortunaelz I arrived on a Fri and even if Mali is mostly a Muslim country with their sabbath on Fri most of the government offices were closed 1/2 day Fri and Sat and Sun.So I had to hangin Bamako all weekend and took my passport in early Mon morning. But of course they made me return on Tue for my passport so I was in Bamako 5 days . But got a chance to get info on the buses heading to Timbucktoo and transportation out of the country!
Bamako (and all of Mali) is an interesting mixture of dust, heat, pollution and noise. Hell it got to the point that my asthma started to act up which concerned me cus I never had this problem before. So went to Pharmacz to get throat losengers and took some antihistamies that I had been carrying. I also worn a nose and mouth mask to keep the dust out of mz nose and lungs. So after a couple of days of this I realized that the dry climate of Mali and blowing dust didnt agree with my health. So gave some thought to maybe of changing mz itinerarz (tho I didnt actually have one) but thought maybe of heading back to north Africa rather than venturing further into Africa during the dry season.
its odd about downtown Bamako if I can call it that but thats what the guide book calls where the Mission is located but there are hardly any buildings but rather a collection of huts making up the shops. So it appears to be a collection of markets that overflow the sidewalks onto the streets. So had to compete with the cars, buses, motorbikes, carts with goods, bikes and tons of other pedestrians for a piece of the street to walk! So all this was one of the reasons for dust and heat and took more time to get anywhere.
But I could have taken a taxi, motorbike or mini van (crammed with as many people as could be physically fit). I would have taken one of these vans as had done it in Kenya when I was ther a couple years yaago. But i didnt know where the vans were headed and didnt know the citz like I did in Kenya. So I basically walked most places or got a motorbike and paid the price for a ride.
So after 5 days of staying im Bamako i took a 9 hr bus ride to Mopti which is basicallz a stopping off point for interesting places to visit like Timbucktoo, Djenni (a town on an island in the Niger river with mostly mud huts the people live in plus a large mud Muslim Mosque labelled a World Hertage site). We also could go to the Dogan Countrz which is a series of villages built in the cliffs (the best way to describe it).
The bus ride to Mopti was of course a long hot ride with a bus load of noisz locals and a French guy, his Asian wife and their probably 2 year old daugther. They were an interesting family who as they travelled like the locals and told me thez were going to pick grapes this summer outside Vancouver. I figure that this unorthodox family would probably do it cus they travelled cheaply!