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Published: January 1st 2011
Coming into land in Bamako, Mali
Firstly Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. We have not been in Mali for about 11 days - hard to keep up with the days and date....but we have power this am and hopefully internet later today so I will start at the beginning.
We arrived in Bamako (capital of Mali) on 22nd December minus our luggage. The flights from Bangkok to Addis and then to Bamako made it a very long day - about 16 hours in the air, plus down time at airports and we lost about 11 hours in actual time. Thankfully we had a 20 hour stop over in Bangkok to catch up on some sleep otherwise I don't think I could have handled the lost luggage thing as well. I was only one of about 50 people who didn't get their luggage on that flight and we met the next flight from Addis Ababa 2 days later and there was still no luggage and another 25 people looking for lost luggage on that flight - so then I began to worry a bit. Many thanks to our travelling buddies we shared some face products, toothpaste, clean t-shirts, etc. Obviously we are not the
Welcome to Mali
first people to loose our luggage but if becomes very frustrating when you put soo much effort into packing and planning for a trip and when your bags get lost you have absolutely no control over it at all.
Michael and I felt very special as we were given the seats where we put in charge of the emergency exist on the Addis Ababa to Bamako sector - never had to do that before but it got us extra leg room for that part of the trip.
Our hotel was beautiful and the staff very helpful - they got used to us walking around bare footed because the only shoes we had on us were our trekking boots - good look.
We met our guides and got an update on the tour and then set off to explore the market.
Ventured out into Bamako - taxi to and from the hotel who waited for us for an hour - not nearly enough time. Obviously 4 whities stood out amongst the thousands of African faces. This market was amazing, busy, hard to describe - but 100 times bussier than anything in Asia. Even though there are individual
local bus bamako
This bus is in good condition.
stalls out the front of people's houses here - it doesn't seem to be to the same extent as you see in Asia - most of the trade goes on in this hugh market.
We were picked up by a couple of guys - Emiel from Cameroon and another guy from Mopti - and they herded us through and around the market. We would never have gotten soo far into the market without them. Emiel is a musician (as is almost everyone in Mali) and he will be playing at the Festival in Timbuktu.
We particularly wanted to see the artisians section of the market but we finally got there very late, with no time to look around and plan to hit only that section again. In this section of the market you watch everything being made...I watched a guy tighten up a Djembe.....local silver jewerly makers, bags, other musical instruments, cloth, etc. Michael reckons that he is giving me all the money before we go into the market, as the men seem to be targetted for sales more than the women and Michael came home with a Mali soccer shirt...he didn't really want it but it will be
a nice souvenier and may be the only other shirt that he has to wear.
There are some fine looking African men here and of course the women are beautiful. The women dress beautifully - the younger ones in a more western style but everyone else more traditionally - and the colors, patterns, glitter, etc was such a contrast in the grimy market place. Some of the younger men wear suits made from very bright pattened material while their girlfriends were wearing western clothing.
We have been told that Mali is a very safe country, has a mixture of religions and they all live compatabily together and respect each other's customs. We were told that the Festival of the Desert will be a very special one as the President of Mali will be attending (lots of security) as the country is celebrating their 50th year of independence.
We also visited the Bamako Museum which had a good display of Dogon art and a lot of great fabric displays. The grounds were hugh and there was a wedding being held in the gardens while we were there. As we entered the main gate great African hip hop was being
played through loud speakers - just to set the mood...I am still trying to track down that particular artist and CD. The grounds (park as it is called) is used for lots of functions and well known artists play there as well.
We heard that a popular Malian artist was playing at a night club on the Thursday night - but then learned that the club didn't open until midnight - maybe just a little too late for us oldies - but we will see a lot of these artists at the music festival. Our guide told us that he went home and slept from 7pm until 1am, then got up and showered and then went out dancing.......seems very typical of the music clubs here.
Our hotel put on a special menu for Christmas - which was nice - and they also decorated the foyer area with western decorations......didn't really feel like Christmas for us but we did celebrate with a glass or two of champagne.
Our travelling companions are two young girls - one works as a nanny in Nice and one is the manager of a day care centre in the UK. Both are well travelled
View of the swimming pool of our hotel - it's a pity that I didn't have any bathers with me....
and mature and we all seem to get on well together sharing similar stories and sense of humour.....so all good.
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