In the afternoon, Lina takes the bus to Ouagadougou. She will fly from there to Senegal, where she’ll meet her parents for a three week long vacation together. Later, she’ll also spend some time with a friend in Ghana. I continue by myself, and we plan to meet again somewhere southeast of Burkina Faso. My first night alone is in small village Somo, next to some bike mechanics’ home and workshop. Early sleep.
Mali – a huge country in the very centre of West Africa, both geographically and historically. The country is famous for towns like Djenné and Timbuktu, classic African musicians like Salif Keita, Tourmani Diabaté and Ali Farka Touré and modern ones like Tinariwen and Amadou et Mariam. Truly, the country can carry the conception amongst some, that it contains the essence of Africa in one single nation. From its music to its calm and respectful people.
But as huge as Mali is, as difficult is it to give the country a fair description from ‘just’ having passed through from west to east. For us, it was quite monotonous and boring. Long distances, and midway through the country the worst capital yet to visit. We had difficulties enjoying Bamako – a traffic jammed city split in two by the Niger River. It didn’t feel safe enough to stroll around at night, and besides didn’t have much city life except for the somewhat bigger shops. There were few open-air cafés and bars – the kind you appreciate as a visitor, with the possibility to observe people and environment around you.
Despite the rather dull experience of the capital, and the environment in general, we experienced some memorable meetings. Amongst them Paul – an Australian gold miner with roots in Zimbabwe. He sponsored us with a four-night, four-star hotel stay in Kayes. The four stars didn’t matter as much as did Paul’s warm humor and good company. Late nights in the bar playing pool; Creedence Clearwater Revival in the stereo.
I hope to be able to see more of Mali’s huge land next time. Despite a few less interesting days, each such is worth those on which you end up sleeping under the stars. With the fresh air, gently breezing you through the night. Where silence is so complete that you can hear it, and where people are so predictably human that you’ve got nothing to worry about. The definition of peace.