Cape to cape and further

Richard is on the road for his major trip.

Destination: all the way..........


Mali, another muslim country.

Week 51 - 52, monday 16 December - sunday 30 December  2013.

After more than 2500 km in Mauritania, we, Ricky and I, finally reach the border with Mali. Gogui is a small border crossing and as a result I was checked out in ten minutes. It’s already 16.00 when we cross into Mali and therefor we have to hurry to reach Nioro, where the Gendarmerie is located to register our motorbikes. Cause of the conflicts in the north they insist in giving us an escort to Nioro. The escort guy turns out to be a big help with showing us de places where we have to go for the different stamps and the ‘passavant’. The ‘passavant’ is a temporarily import document for the motorbike. In Nioro is no hotel and therefor we have to sleep at the head-quarters of the Gendarmerie. They have a big backyard over there where we pitch up our tent and after a bit of street-food, of which I still don’t know what it was, we go to bed. The next morning we wake up early and when we want to leave we hear that we also need an escort to Bamako. We both don’t like it and after different discussions we managed to shorten the escort to Djemme about 100km south of Nioro. Instead of leaving early in the morning we leave at noon with one more tourist who is also heading south. This guy from France is driving a Mercedes and so the escort join him in the car. As soon as we hit the road the Mercedes speed away with 120km/h and we don’t drive faster than 80-90km/h, this because we are heavily loaded and there was also a strong wind. The Escort didn’t work out as an escort, but more like a moneymaker. During the ride we stop a couple times to take photos and when we arrive in Djemme the escort is already weaving that we have to hurry. We are not impressed at al and take our time to drink something and to get fuel. When I tell him that we only need a escort till Djemme he start being angry. I say listen “call your boss and he will tell you the same”. After five minutes we get our passports back and we can continue the ride by ourself. It take us three and a half hour to cross the 200km till Bamako and when we arrive in it’s dark and the traffic hectic. By using the GPS we find the campsite ‘sleeping camel’ without any problem. We are both tired and dirty of three nights bush-camping but still the first thing we do is order a big beer. My first night at the ‘sleeping camel’ is like coming home. I sleep like a baby and when I wake up the next morning I feel like reborn. Today I it’s laundry, internet and relaxing day. Near the campsite is a huge supermarket with european and american brands and I bought myself some nice cookies and real  shower gel. The atmosphere is so nice at the ‘sleeping camel’ that we decided to stay a bit longer. In the afternoon we got invited by the director of a primary school and we have some thee together. He ask me if I want to do some English teaching and I agree with it. But first I want to go to Dogon country in the East of Mali and we agree that I will be back on monday to start teaching.

Ricky decide to continue strait away to Burkina Faso and so we go both our own way.

Dogon country is an old historical area where the people use to live in small huts at the bottom, half way or at the top of a mountain wall. I drove in two days and passed Segou, San and Moptie to arrive in Sevare. Here I found a hotel where I could pitch up my tent. It wasn’t cheap but the property was walled with a security guy at night. For the first time during my trip I decide to hire a guide to show me around in Dogon country and after a chat with a lot of bargaining we decide to go the next day. The next morning we leave at 07.00 and after a nice drive we arrive in Djigiguibombo. Here we stop far a walk in the village, it’s a little village with only one well outside the village-wall. They got subsidized by the government to keep the old lifestyle. It’s an amazing experience to be there and have a chat with the spiritual leader and to sit inside there meeting hall. During the walk in the village many kids are following us and many of them are holding my hands. I end up having a photo with eight little black kids, a photo I’m using now as a cover-photo on my mobile phone. After the visit we drive another hour, we park the car en from here on we continue on foot. During the 40 minutes walk de guide tells me many things about the original way of life in Dogon Country. After arriving in Yabatatou, another village that got subsidized, we have a break to drink some thee. It is now around 11.00 and we order lunch for when we come back after our climb up to the old village of Yabatatou. The old village is located the half the wall. This old village is not longer in use, but is used as an example of how hundreds of years ago the people lived and protected the village against an attack. Because the Wall is that steep is was not possible to enter and to kill the people. The people who attacked the village came with another solution, by cutting down all the threes up till three hundred meter around the wall they made sure that the people in this village where not able to get any food anymore. After five months of surviving they finally had to give up and surrendered there selfs. Till now you still see the effects of cutting down all the trees. Where there use to be a lot of them, now there are only a few which provide shades in the burning sun in the hot summers. On our way back down to the village we visit a hand-crafter who had many wooden statues. Unfortunately for him I’m not buying souvenirs when I’m traveling on the motorbike.  Back in the village we have a nice meal of spaghetti and chicken. After a long day I arrived at 18.00 back at the hotel in Sevare. Back at the hotel I decide to take an ice-cold shower to wake up a bit after this tiring day. I drink a beer together with the guide and we talk through the day, I thank him for this great experience and for everything I have told me. I go to bed early because I want to leave at 07.00 the next morning to have enough time to be back in Bamako before dark.

600 kilometer and 12 hours later I arrive at the ‘sleeping camel‘. Because of the bad road my motorbike is so dirty that I decide to have it washed by some of the street-boys. They do a really nice job and the next day I have a clean and happy looking motorbike again. When I arrive at the school on monday it turns out that I had misunderstood the director. He wanted me to be back at the second week of January. Now I don;t have to teach there is no more reason for me to stay in Bamako and I start making plans to go to Senegal. Later that day Ricky arrives also at the ‘sleeping camel’ and we diced to go to Senegal together. We spend another two days at the ‘sleeping camel’ before we take of on an early morning. Of one of the other travelers we had gotten an campsite location in the east of Mali. This campsite ‘Coolcamp’ is owned by a Dutch guy, Casper, who also have been traveling for a long time. After busy Bamako we arrive in the afternoon at a very very quiet Manatali. The campsite ‘Coolcamp’ has not even electricity. Located next to a dam, there is running water and therefor a shower is not a problem at all, still we decide to take a swim in the river. Staying at ‘Coolcamp’ is like bush-camping and therefor a nice place to hang out for a while to forget the hectic life in Bamako. Ricky decide to leave the next day and I stay for a couple more days. I end up staying 6 nights and during those days I help Casper with his garden and with placing a fence around a communal garden. In the early morning of boxing-day I leave Manatali behind and head finally in the direction of Senegal.

As a traveler I felt very welcome in Mali and that welcoming feeling started right at the border till the very last moment I left the country. Most of the people are smiling all day and the a lot of women are dressed in colorful dresses. Mali is also a country where the women do all the work while the men are just hanging around, drinking thee and smoking cigarets. In the capital I experienced some annoying bagging behavior of little kids and even some older guy’s are trying to get money. In general and especial in smaller placed there is not such thing as harassing travelers. I loved the street food and the fresh bread every morning. The roads in Mali are in general well maintained and the other parts are being beautified under the supervision of the Chinese. The north of Mali was not accessible for us, travelers, but the south of Mali is interesting and big enough to spend a long time. While I was not really planning to go to Mali, I’m very happy that I went and experienced another muslim country.   

For more amazing experience and funny moments in Senegal you are more than welcome to read my next update.

Getting Fuel in Diema.

Mali women carrying there groceries
Mali is also known as ‘the country of the water melon’.
Woodcarving is a popular profession in Mali.
The usual way of transport in the poor parts of Mali.
The biggest mud-build mosque in Mali.
The old city of Yabatatou inside the mountain.

With the spiritual leader at Djigiguibombo

The Dam in Manatali.
In the river in Manatali to cool down after a long ride.
Mali is also known for its ....tree.

Countries I have visited: