The Mali Finale! part 3- Mopti

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April 27th 2009
Published: April 27th 2009
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Playin' the Waitin' GamePlayin' the Waitin' GamePlayin' the Waitin' Game

This is game we like to play a lot in Africa- Wait for the Tro to Fill! ....sigh...
The road to Mopti was...eternal? Yeah, that's a good word for it! Long and hot, dry and dusty. We soon found that the further north you go, the more expensive water got...which is kind of a "no duh" statement since we're traveling into the Sahara desert...hmmmm... At any rate, crossing the border was a pain, not because of any large amounts of paperwork, but because of the excessively spread out process of starting and stopping.

We would drive for twenty minutes, and then everyone would pile out of the tro so we could have one guy check out passports. Then we would all pile right back in, drive another twenty minutes, get out, sign a one page document, and then get back into the vehicle. Then we would drive another twenty minutes, get out again, get our passport stamped and then get back in. And finally we would drive another forty minutes, before we got our last stamp and payed for the visa. All the while, it's over a hundred degrees outside, we're hot, sweaty, covered in dust, incredibly hungry and thirsty... good times.

After that long ordeal, we finally made it to Koro. We waited for about an hour for the Tro Tro to Mopti to fill up. This was yet another long ride, but not nearly as unpleasant as the first. The ever changing landscape made it all worth it. Mali is gorgeous! We saw massive rock escarpments, camels crisscrossing the countryside, charming mud huts and exquisite mosques dotting the open sandy savannah plains. It was awesome. We had a few hiccups...our tro got a flat tire, I had only eaten some bread the entire day, and it was really cramped... but the natural beauty made it all worth it!

We finally arrived in Mopti late that evening, around ten-ish. We slept that evening on the roof of the Hotel YaPasdeProbleme...try saying that ten times fast... after grabbing a meal at the hotel restaurant and taking a much needed shower!

Thursday began with uncertainty, turned into promising, and then went back to the normal African philosophy of "whatever will be, will be." Our mission for the day was to get to Timbuktu...which is as difficult to get to as you might expect. Our first offer was wonderful - a private plush 4X4 vehicle with plenty of room for a decent price and with transportation there
Sleepin' on the RoofSleepin' on the RoofSleepin' on the Roof

Mattress and mosquito net, what more do you need?
and back. Sweet! Let's take it!! Wait...we have to pay all of the money upfront? Yeah, no. That's not happenin'. So after nearly an hour of debate we got them to agree to our terms...unfortunately their boss wasn't as easy going. So they got him on the phone and I then proceeded to talk to him. I calmly explained our situation, assured him that we wouldn't cheat him out of any money and reminded him of the basic terms and conditions of any contract, after whichg he hung up on me...sweet. Plan B anyone?

Well, the guys that we were with were stellar. They guided us to a Tro Tro station and helped us find transport up to Timbuktu...not as comfy, more expensive, and one-way, but hey, at least we wouldn't be out one hundred twenty five thousand CFA right off the bat. Unfortunately we were in for another long wait, so we decided to find some much needed breakfast. We bought our tickets and departed the station.

That morning we dined on pastries! I was so excited! It was the closest thing I've had to pie in a long time... man, I miss pie... after which we returned to the station and waited. Eventually pulling out at one in the afternoon. Our journey into the Sahel was about to begin...

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Gotta love pastries...closest thing I've had to pie in a long time!

27th April 2009

The good thing about reading your blogs, is that i know you survived, which is a good thing from your mother's point of view. you are amazing! we miss you and look forward to seeing you in a few short weeks. love you much!

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