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Published: April 22nd 2011
IMAGES OF MALI...UP THE NIGER IN A LEAKY BOAT We piled onto our pinasse near Mopti...5 men lifted the back & pushed us off...into the middle of the Niger...then the sound & sight of water rushing at our feet...yikes "We are sinking!!!!"
Pull into the riverbank lifting our packs & whatever onto bench seats or into our arms to avoid soaking...pile out with cameras, daypacks etc and sit on a concrete bank for a fish sorting area ...silence...reflecting...pondering...we have three days in this boat to get to Timbuktu...and we have just started...and there is a hole as big as my fist in the bottom...
And so started our "leisurely" cruise up the Niger River to Timbuktu!
We had been joined by Guy, our tour operator from 'From Here 2 Timbuktu' the night before in Mopti together with his fiance Joanna and the seventh member of our group, Julia who had travelled through the desert of Mauritania with Guy then Northern Mali to join us.
We had dinner at "Mopti's Best Restaurant" that night ...in a small room across the alley from where it was cooked...with a bed, TV & a few chairs...and a baby wearing only
...IN A LEAKY BOAT
Effecting repairs...we hope...
a singlet...lying on the bed or in someone's arms...as the mother served us with spicy fish, succulent chicken & scotch eggs... very tasty...best in Mopti... but in a surprising location.
After that entertaining introduction we were now on a riverbank watching the crew feverishly effecting repairs...wondering what further surprises were in store.
Guy assured us the pinasse would "be repaired in the African way" so no need for concern. "We'll see.." I thought...
And so it was... Ibrahim & Amadou got a rag...soaked it in oil...cut off the base of the plastic oil container...shoved the rag in the hole...nailed the base with epoxy over the hole...and invited us back on board...
And we sailed up the Niger for the next 3 days...with the crew regularly bailing...& throwing the bailed water over the side... everything is under control...no need to worry...who is worrying?...we are having the time of our life.
Three days of resting on the woven straw roof, watching Bozo fishermen, villages, mud mosques, birdlife, the river becoming a lake... playing cards, joking around...eating the cook Jenova's superb salads, fish, chicken & her magic chilli & mustard sauces... visiting villages, sand dunes becoming more frequent,
RELAX & ENJOY...
Hamma, Ibrahim, & Jenova
Ali Farke Toure's home & grave at Niafunke, Dire's Market, ...sleeping on the riverbank...sitting around campfires & G & T's to late...and liaisons with 3 other pinasses...all heading to Timbuktu..& the Festival au Desert.
I am napping when pirates attack our pinasse... hear scuffle...see Rocky (USA) with our crate of grog & Columbia with two beers about to board their pirate pinasse... I'm into it...more scuffles...they get away with gin & beer...waving & swigging like they think its all over... we grab co-conspirator Columbia...Mexico laughing...Columbia is our hostage now...
Welcome to the Niger River...
Regards & Relax,
Dancing Dave (who sailed in a leaky boat & fought pirates on his way to Timbuktu)
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