Au Revoir Mali...Timbuktu to Bamako

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June 13th 2011
Published: June 17th 2011
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Last night in Timbuktu...last G & T before I've got two cans of Tonic I bought in Mopti when we loaded up for our pinasse "up the Niger in a leaky boat" to Timbuktu...hey this tonic water is dark brown...tastes erkk..yuk...what... its vitamin tonic..."Bottoms up...salut!"

Leave for dinner...waiting for our lift...a young lad no older than 10 entertained us "I am little Tuareg... little Price"...he said as he unrolled a handkerchief and laid out his wares...charming the ladies as only a young Cassanova from Timbuktu I sat back and watched him weave his Tuareg magic with the ladies (and the men)...

"I have made an must make an offer to have to make 3 offers"..."But I do not want to"..."You have to...I am little Tuareg, little Price...what is your offer?"

He did well that night... then rolled up his handkerchief & disappeared into the's probably well past his bedtime..!!!

Our lift did not arrive so we walk to the restaurant for our last meal together...down dark dusty streets...ah... that must be it...I can tell by the Landrover outside with the machine gun on the back ...and
the two soldiers nearby... presumably we are not the VIPs they are protecting...

We are an hour late...the chef goes ballistic...he has to make the souffle again...but it was worth it...fantastic French cuisine...Timbuktu's finest...and the best chocolate caramel tart I have ever tasted.

Walk back with Italian arena event organiser with a penchant for Australian & New Zealand films...he will remain in my memory for his concise description of our Tuareg Wedding at the Festival au Desert...he had leaned forward & given me a hug & whispered in my ear "That was a good show" (with appropriate emphasis)..."Coming from him...a compliment indeed" I thought.

Farewells to our comrades....some to pinasse down the Niger...the reverse of our trip...others will fly from Timbuktu...Wren & Anna will stay in Mali for the Festival du Niger at Segou...we will 4WD through the desert inland Niger delta & the sahel to Bamako...three days reduced to two so we can luxuriate at the Radisson Blu in Bamako before leaving Mali for Ethiopia.

Early start tomorrow...time for bed.

Den's mobile phone wakes us in the middle of the night...I stagger up & answer it.

"Dad...I got into the car ...and put the key in and it wouldn't start."

It is our daughter ringing from Sydney, Australia.

"What....what do you want me to do? Its 3.30 am and we are in Timbuktu"!

We couldn't sleep...maybe she needs Den ringing Australia...sorts it out...the things you do for your matter how old they are...nearly time to get up...

Loaded up & raced the 20 kms to Korioume, the port of Timbuktu to line up for the ferry...15th in line...time for a wander.

Ah there's Mr CD, my name for the CD vendor at the Festival au Desert...Have you got African Revolution by Tiken Jah Fakoly? We heard some tracks in a 4WD somewhere in Mali..."Yes"...and searching through his pile found "Timbuktu" by Issa Bagayogo...the artist whose CD I had searched for that had led me to Mali in the "Timbuktu"...not then knowing this CD would be my favourite by this artist...true serendipity at work!

The ferry takes us across the Niger past picturesque villages...serene...peaceful until disembark...then rallycross...hang on...our driver Mohamed thrashing on the sand track as if he's dune surfing...I guess he doesn't want to get tarmac out here!

There's a breeze today and dusty lucky were we to have had perfect clear weather in Mali until now?

Through donkeys walking or resting on the dirt other vehicles other than our two 4WDs...Den, Mike, Jake and me with Mohamed & Ros, Tanya & Sam with Rhissa in the other...and if Rhissa gets ahead...Mohamed persists in racing him...sound of a train coming...we have a flat tyre.

400 metres later we had another flat...the last spare between the vehicles looks very dodgey we got to Douentza is a miracle indeed!

Stop by an inland lake for a pee stop...then spend the next hour extracting the cram crams...God's vilest creation...this is why tweezers were on our "What to Bring" list.

Stop halfway to Douentza at Bambara Maoude...flat roofed mud dwellings or Songhay hide domed tents scattered in a severe, barren, flat terrain...dust swirling...only inhabited because it was desolate noone tried to sell us anything!

Had a lot of laughs in our vehicle...Guy's nephew Jake insisted on sitting in the rear over the rear axle...his backside hammered by the constant rat a tat of the unsealed road as we raced through the inland delta...many jokes re: his toughness...he's proud he's a "Pommie Hard Arse" and it may save him two years toughness training if he ever joined the Army!

We also hunk of wires hanging out of where a radio or CD player should have been...played one track...for hours on end...well not really one track...I timed it would cut out at 45 seconds and eventually restart...occasionally another track would start...but 45 seconds guessed it...never found out what those two tracks were..!

Pass the Valley of the Monoliths...massive sandstone spurs & cliffs that protrude out of the desert...villages at their base...rock on rock.

Arrive at Douentza for lunch...and for tyre repairs that takes some time. We are now in the north of Dogon country...artifacts after omelette I go for a wander.

What is that amazing music?...enter a barber's shop...welcomed in...greeted by patrons as they enter...remove their turbans...shake hands with me...and every one got a crew-cut!

The proprietor puts that music on for me again...and again until I left...trying my hardest with my French to find out the Artist...was told "Djely Moussa"...but I can't find any record of that name...pity...

Dropped off Jake in Mopti...won't leave him until his contact arrives...just had his 19th wishes Jake.

Back to the "No Problem Hotel" in Mopti tonight...we are all covered in red dust...showers and we revert to our usual colours... Mexico...last saw him at the Festival... here catching up on his laptop ...cocktails...stories...memories...happy times.

My first ill health in Mali has hit since we left Timbuktu...I now have a cough & explosion in a field...its green...never seen that before...time for Augmentin...I do not want to bugger up our next stop...Ethiopia.

In a harsh climate like Mali you have to be proactive to avoid mozzies, dehydration and health malaise...if you don't you will miss the joy. I saw this was ignored by some travellers...what a pity...

Off early as we have a long last leg to Bamako...we are out of the desert and driving through the sahel...past Dogon rugged rock falaise country to our left cloaked in grey lucky we were not to have trekked through that..!

More frequent mud villages...more traffic...narrow bitumen...Mali's main highway.

It's dark when we arrive at our hotel...the Radisson Blu...welcome back...Sam & Tanya wisely joining us...eyes glued to TV screens checking out the damage to Mike & Ros's home town of Toowoomba from the Queensland floods...fortunately their house was not damaged.

After breakfast I wander down to the gift shop on the ground floor where I had bought a few CDs including the brilliant Idrissa Soumaore at the start of our enquire if they knew how I might procure some Djely Moussa...they've never heard of him...and "Samba Toure...he was my number one at the Festival au Desert."

"Do you want to meet Samba Toure?"...a voice asks from behind me.

I feign "too time" etc but he persists...

"No problem...we grew up together...if I ask him he will come."

Then shortly after "He is on his way to meet you."

I have commented on a number of instances of serendipity in my Mali blogs...and here it was again...and I was excited.

I raced upstairs and told the others and as I was coming down there was my new friend "He is here...come" that is I met the Malian music god...hugged and chatted through a lady who volunteered as interpreter.

Then Den comes in...Michael...Sam & Tanya...hugging all...where's Ros? don't want to miss this!

"He wants to know if you would like to meet his Manager? He wants to give you his CD as a gift..." wow I must be in heaven..."Can I take anyone else?'...all agree it should be Mike...Samba's ready to go...right now...lucky we have our cameras.

We pass a long row of Mali's national car...Mercedes Benz...I wonder which one is his...of course the one at the end...the latest model deep green one!

Samba drove us across the Niger into the other side of Bamako...singing along to his latest CD (not then yet released)... then across a dirt square and stopped..up some stairs...women doing their thing on the next level...through a grille door...into a room adorned with Ali Farke Toure memorabilia...Samba was Ali's support guitarist before Ali's death...into the home of Samba's manager, Philippe ...what about Samba's World Tour in the after hearing Ali Farka's CD "The River" Philippe came to changed his life... do I feel...deja vu...?

Mike keeps saying "This is surreal...I can't believe this is happening."

Nor can I...

...but Mali has that effect on you.

Relax & Enjoy,

Dancing Dave (who danced through Mali...and still marvels that he did so)

Additional photos below
Photos: 59, Displayed: 29



The port of Timbuktu...lining up for the ferry

...but the real thing

17th June 2011

Love your writing style
I'm trying to talk my husband into going to Timbuktu to renew our vows at twenty years. Looks like your good time continues. Carry on. Glad you made it to the front page!
18th June 2011

Love your blogs! congrats on 30 years together, i hope your dancing for 30 more!
18th June 2011

Hi David, great entry you got here, full of life & feels like discovering a bit Mali through your eyes. And yes...I got to say it...cannot believe you guys met Samba Toure, guess he is some kind of "half god" there :-)
19th June 2011

Thank you Connie for your feedback...I have always been told I had no rhythm & danced to my own beat...until I got to Mali...where the locals thought I was a great dancer...but now I dance with an Ethiopian feel...& I have discovered rhythm...funny that! Two more Mali blogs to come...just faces...then Ethiopia...stunning.
19th June 2011

Renew your vows at Timbuktu?..great idea & I've given you clues...but its already been done!...I proffer a suggestion: ...being carried into a rock hewn Church in Lalibela, Ethiopia...the happy couple flanked by a collonade of priests carrying Ethiopian crosses...mmm...I like the idea...worth watering??? This was our "wet weather" option...feel free to use it!
22nd June 2011

eplore t globe
the earth is the only heaven in this univese
26th June 2011

First "Our Tuareg Wedding"...then "Au Revoir Mali"
Hi Laetitia, It is a buzz to be able to share travel experiences with like-minded people around the World...most others run a mile to avoid holiday snaps...but those "in the know"...can't get enough of it! Thanks for your support...and keep dancing (I hear you're quite a good dancer)!
26th June 2012

what can I say?
That is amazing, different, real, what else? Life!!!!!!!!!
31st July 2012

oh my god is this paint..
4th September 2012

Can you give me(us) some information as regards prices, costs, etc.? It´s very interesting. Thank you.
5th September 2012

Current Advice Level: "Do not travel" We continue to advise Australians not to travel to any part of Mali because of political instability following a military coup, ongoing military operations against rebel groups in the north, the activities of armed groups, including terrorists and bandits, and the threat of kidnapping. Australians in Mali advised to leave by commercial means, if it is safe to do so. Same applies to Argentinians. When it settles down I can put you in touch with the best person if you wish.
10th November 2012

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23rd November 2012

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13th January 2013

Amazing pictures Dave!
18th January 2013

Thanks Jimmy of my favourite places...adventure Central...not safe at the moment...but when it is...stunning

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