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    • Day 2

      The Sleeping Camel

      September 8, 2021 in Mali ⋅ ⛅ 88 °F

      Popular Bamako spot for even locals. About $40 for private room with bath although dorm and other room options available. Restaurants on property with tasty food selections. Nice secure atmosphere with a friendly owner and staff.Read more

    • Day 108

      Sleeping Camel

      March 18, 2017 in Mali ⋅ ⛅ 36 °C

      The bike and I have been recuperating for the last 2 weeks in Bamako, Mali at the wonderful overlanding hub of The Sleeping Camel. But this doesn't begin to explain the ups and downs we've had.

      On leaving Nzérékoré I head north on more beautiful EU funded road...until the road abruptly stops and I have 200 miles of rough track. Whilst not fundamentally difficult I really wasn't mentally prepared for hours upon hours of slow progress. Along this journey I stop to help some khaki clad men by the side of the road. After much sign language I understand they're out of fuel and duly siphon some into their tank. I'm sure the good karma will revisit me.  Well, this clearly didnt happen, as about 50 miles later I hear bad noises from behind me. It turns out I'd lost 2 screws from the rack that supports my luggage and the whole assembly had bounced up and down many times, broken the plastic fairing and twisted the frame lugs. This means I have to unload all my luggage in the midday sun and start bodging for an hour, so i can get moving again. This was probably the result of some exuberant riding to make my destination before dark. I failed and also ran over a 3m high tree in the process - don't ask how.

      The next day I'm back on tar for a relatively short dash to Bamako. All goes well until I arrive and realise that the lining of my spare helmet is missing. Not such a big deal...apart from this is where I had $1400 hidden. The helmet must have been damaged yesterday when the frame broke. Some Malian is very happy at having found about 6 months least someone is happy...I was not that evening!

      My long stay in Bamako is mainly due to a whole new rear wheel being sent from the UK. So I have some other bits fixed by the motorcycle mechanic for the Mali president's motorcycle outriders. He fixes my blown fork seal, straightens the bars, cleans the air filter and fixes an idling problem. I also get the Nigerian visa, a visa that is more expensive if you're British.

      The Sleeping Camel is a great place to stay as I've met more overlanders here than in the previous 3 months combined. I bumped into Ferry and Gulcin again as well as meeting another 6 bikers and 4 in 4x4s. It's pretty cool to have some familiar company even though we've not met before. The owners Matt and Phil are great and laid on a free boat trip for us down the river as well as helping do some welding to permanently fix my frame. By the time of leaving The Sleeping Camel I'm very much part of the furniture! I've also learnt after 13 nights of camping that my tent is truly horrific in the heat!

      1) The overlanding roll call - William, Ricardo, Cemil, Laura, Ferry, Gulcin, Nicholas, Daniel and Josephine.
      2) The rescued Guinean environmental police
      3, 4, 5) Boat ride up the Niger river including the man who walks on water
      6) local rock band at the Sleeping Camel
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    • Day 34

      Bamako zoo

      October 24, 1989 in Mali ⋅ 32 °C

      Spent the morning between the French Embassy (for Togo visas) and the Man From Uncle (SMert) working out a P of A. Had several rapid shits and felt a bit wobbly so retired to bed while seb & Jan went to the market. Rose later and went in search of the museum, but it was closed (Monday) so wandered through the 'Arboretum' and found a 'zoo' - I use the term lightly. 1/2 dozen small enclosures and 2 doz small cages. The lasy selling nuts on the door was also the ticket lady, so bought some nuts and a ticket. Most enclosures were too overgrown to see if anything lived in them, and the cages were pitifully small but there was a v tame hippo who loved nuts and would rear out of the water onto the parapet and open its mouth wide for a few nuts. Acquired 2 students who gave me a quick tour, only I knew more than they did, and I have never seen anyone move so quickly when I told them there was a croc behind them. Over a 6 foot wall backwards from a standing start!

      Felt better in the evening so returned to the fray.

      Bamako is a nice city, no doubt helped by the fact that we didn't spend too long there and that there were other gringos in town. At first it doesn't really seem like a capital city at all, but it grows. It is very busy during daylight hours, cars, taxi buses, mpeds by the 000s and people everywhere, almost all selling something. It is however, unlike Dakar, a very fiendly city and only a few vendors are at all pushy, and they are probably mostly Senegalese. Most of the buildings are two stories high and a mix of French Colonial and Malian styles, and all are a bit scubby though this doesn't necessarily detract from them. They are usually pastel pink or green along quite wide tree lined avenues(pushing it a bit) of which only 3-4 are properly tarmacced, and i saw at least 1 set of traffic lights. All the roads have semi open drains on either side but they didn't really smell and seemed quite effective.

      Wanted to buy a reflective car sticker of the president for my backpack - maybe i'll get the chance in Mopti.

      The museum was small but well spaced and displayed, but could have done with a guide in English, (we met someone on the boat who was composing one!).
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    • Day 35

      General Soumare

      October 25, 1989 in Mali

      Organised tickets for the Mopti boat, (we plumped for third class) collected our visas and i popped back to the market and bought a very fine hat for 1200. The market is a large pentagonal building on one level, in the classic Malian style, a la the Mosque at Djenne. Lots of small passages with all sorts, from taps + bolts, general hardware, shoes, jewelry, cloth, artefacts, etc with a large food market outside.

      We caught the one train per day to Koulikouro at 18.00, riding in the open wagons to the surprise of the locals. It was fun, for 20 minutes, but got dark. Arrived almost on schedule after a scare when it appeared that the train had broken down, and we found the boat just close to the tracks.

      Whatever made me think that the boat might not be full? I am glad we went for 3d class (8 to a cabin and including food) rather than the 4th class the Aussie girls went for, which was a bit of deck space wherever you can find it. The whole vessel was alive with peoplee coming and going, buying and selling, loading, milling about and generally looking busy.

      Large amounts of disorganisation and waiting about, some huge Brixton briefcasesbeing loaded. After a lot of fannying about we were shown our cabin to be shared with various policeman, soldeirs and wives, all very friendly and seems secure. Bought some supplies from the milling crowds and scored some points sharing out with our room mates, and received some tea in return.

      Aussie girls had some space on the roof and were quite well off. Hoisted our mozzie nets but we were the only people on the boat that did, but on settling down i was pleased i did as I was near the light and although there was no mossies there were hundred of moths and other creepy crawlies.

      Pulled away from the dock about on schedule and settled in my bunk, with the best of Rainbow blasting out on a large blaster. Began to doze but semi-registered the boat running into a sand-bank.

      Woken in the morning by a 'steward' with a hot sweet coffee and a lump of dry bread. Went up on deck to see that we were still stuck on the sand-bank, and that we could see Kolikouro (where we had started from) in the distance. Eventually it was a case of show and socks off and push, shove, tug, forward, reverse, etc etc until 09.30 when we eventually slid off the sand bank. Seb had joined the large number of pullers and pushers in the river, but i had declined for a number of reasons, such as the cuts on my feet (result of scrathing the dozens of mossie bites).

      Developed another streaming cold, not fair. pent most of the 2 days writing cards or writing diary. meals consisted of rice of spaghetti with one lump of meat but hardly any sauce at all.

      The was a large party of frogs travelling first class but anyone could use the bar and lounge as long as not in the way of 1st class diners. Although expensive a cold coke was very welcome.

      The river itself was very wide and shallow and the vessel was continuously zigzagging between sandbanks. One assumes it had an echo-sounder or something, but then why did it run aground at the start? Very hot during the days, too hot to walk barefoot on deck, but cool in the evnings. The banks were quite steep and the scenery became more desert-like the further west one went.

      Large numbers of egrets, waders and kingfishers on the banks and sandbanks, and lots of small villages (of fishermen?) and pirogues of varying sizes. We stopped at some towns and larger villages, who usually all turned out to sell their wares, load some cargo or just to gawk. One village we callled at during the night, the banks were lined with smiley faces and everytime a camera flash went off it raised a huge cheer.
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    • Day 36

      Niger River

      October 26, 1989 in Mali

      The boat became more and more loaded, and consequently noisier and dirtier as we went. I found 1 woman shitting in the shower and a chap peeing on the floor of the loo. The trip was interesting rather than spectacular and again our lack of French didn't help, though it is getting better. Everyone was very friendly and wanted to chat, it becomes a bit of a pain sometimes when you can't get any peace and quiet. I was esepcially friendly with a physics teacher from Timbuctoo called Adama. He gave us a lecture on terminal velocity and gravity.Read more

    • Day 36

      Mud mosque.

      October 26, 1989 in Mali

      Eventually arrived in Djenne after a flat tyre and a ferry crossing at about 18.15. Had to pay SMERT a cut o ebter Djenne, but eventually found our way to the Campement. Agreed prices and were shown to our huts.

      After a quick showere and drink with a nice Dutch couple (Helen & Robert, and architect) went out looking for some supper. Ended up in an old woman's house, all eating out of a bowl on the floor, no lights, tools rtc, just a few broken pots and some wooden stools; A bowl full of rice with 2 fish in some dark brown spicy sauce. Alll ok, but not outsanding.
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    • Day 37

      Good morrow to you magistrate

      October 27, 1989 in Mali

      Woke to find a crowned crane outside my door. Had breakfast and and were presented with a bill for our rooms. The price had gone up 2000, so we refused to pay, and all moved into 1 room. We were given a quick tour of Djenne by our SMERT apponted guide, including a visit to the 'Legendary Mosque'. Intereseting but no more, and the view from the top was V boring. (We were originally told that it was impossible to see inside the mosque, as it is such a holy place, but for 10 $USD it could be arranged, and it was).

      We dispensed with our guide and I went for a walk around the 'beach' as Djenne is an island. Dirty, ratty squalid with lots of people washing, swimming and fishing.

      We decided not to wait for the market on Monday and to leave on Sunday morning. However there were further disputes over the bill, so we payed what we had agreed (rather than what they were now asking) and left. We set up shop in 'our corner', by the coke shop on an old motor engine. It wasn't long before we were approached by the local police man, who wanted to know why we hadn't paid our hotel bill. We explained to him the problem, and he was very reasonable about it (seemingly).
      "Ah, I see the problem, we have a dispute. Under these circumstances we will let the magistrate decide".
      I agreed to this, and requested to go an see the magistrate immediately, only to be told that the magistrate was expected "2 weeks on Thursday"!

      After two visits to the police station to discuss this we recognised that we had been done (and to this day I take my hat off to one of the better scams) and we paid in full.

      We settled down on our engine to wait for transport out of town, and became the focus of attention for the usual gang of scruffians, some annoying, others not. We were eventually reduced to drawing a large circle in the sand and making a few juju signs, and this did keep them at bay for a while. We then (Eds note - ashamed to say) that we upped the ante by then pointing at 1-2 of them and making the cut throat sign which really freaked them out.

      By mid-afternoon it became apparent that there was no transport leaving town that day, leaving us with a dilemma. The only official accommodation in town was the campement, but we refused to go back there, so we found a room in someones back yard to sleep in, not particularly comfy and probably illegal, though cheap.
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    • Day 38

      A good honest brothel

      October 28, 1989 in Mali

      Monday came, market day, amd we again set up in our corner, and had long chats with the Dutch couple and a funny Spanish couple. After a long and fairly boring market, where I indulged in a bag ull of BBQ goat, tough but salty, and the remains of which I gave to the kids which sparked a big argument.

      Eventually the Bachee left, but the driver had the wrong papers, so he deposited everyone on the edge of town and went back to get his ID. Came back about 45 minutes later and drove down the river bank to the ferry zone, but drove too far down and got stuck in a stupid place, way past where the ferry came in. Eventually, after having to virtually carry the Bachee bodily to the ferry, and then rowing the ferry to the right spot, it still took another 15 minutes manouevering to get the vehicle onto the ferry.

      The bachee was a pickup truck with covered back and seats around the sides and front. Once everyone had settled in there was abit of a commotion as a large (width not height) policeman appeared, announced that he was coming with us (no fee) and demanded the best seat from the ladies who were already sitting there. He was a fat obnoxious T&!t with zero idea of public service or manners.

      The ferry crossed and after a short breakdown we took off towards Mopti - 3 hours for 3 KMS. Got back to Mopti and headed for the Bar Mali - A good honest Brothel.
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    • Day 42

      Falaise Spa

      November 1, 1989 in Mali

      Got up about 06.00 (wed 1 nov) and had a quick coffee and bread before setting off to Ennde, some 12 kms distant at the foot of The Falaise. We lft most of our stuff at Ben's Bar and filled up our water sack Chez Mamadou, having been introduced to his family. Set off at a brisk pace along the sandy roads at about 07.15, Mamadou and me slightly ahead and the others 2 lagging. Discussed life, the Universe + everything with Mamadou, who seems V intelligent and cares deeply about his people and his country. The great problems are as much self-inflicted as anything. The corruption and the mis-placed ideals of many of the younger men + women (western influence) breaking down the traditional family way of life.

      Jan however did not entirely approve of the Dogon way of life. The women appear to do all of the work. From the age of about 5 they are left in charge of smaller siblings, and quite often spend the day in the fields or pounding millett with a small one strapped to their backs.

      The millett pounding is quite a feature, always carried out by the women - Once they get into a rhythm they appear to enjoy it, clapping their hands and banging the mortar on the side of the pestle, sometimes singing as well, often in groups, with up to 3 working the same mortar simultaneously. The women also have their 'cupboards' - stone houses like millett stores but smaller where they keep their things. Divided into compartments they keep anything from their Jewelry to various herbs and spices and their clothing too. The women also have hut areas where they go for four days while having their periods.

      The men, especially the elders, have stone bench areas with mud & thatch roofs where they sit, play Woaley (Eds note - Mankala?) & discuss life.

      The walk was flat at first through the millett fields much of which was being left for fodder, rendered useless by the locusts. There were 5 small hills with the final crest giving a great view of the Falaise escarpment about 1km distant. With the old Dogon village 1/2 way up very much in view and the new village hidden in the trees at the base. Each village is a collection of family enclosures and Ennde is a collection of 5 small villages.

      On arrival at the village we were introduced to the chief, as in every village, who gets his cut, and we had an expensive warm soda. Thence to the campement towards the end of the village, which seemed comfy enough. After settling in we were given a quick tour of the old village, mostly disused, but some store houses are still considered the best, being under the overhang, providing protection.

      After lunch we made our way up a small valley/gorge to some rocky pools, hardly a waterfall, more a dribble. Selected the best one and had a bath, though the water didn't look too clean, and little fish would nibble at your legs (Norman?). Also lots of local lads were trying to get vantage points to gape and gawp. Returned to the village about 16.30, by which time my achilles tendon had stiffened up considerably. Seb took over the mantle of chef and did V well, with some chicken and rice. A lorry load had been in Ennde earlier, and now 2 yanks who we had seen in Mopti & Djenne turned up with a watermelon, and became very popular by sharing it with us and all the locals. All washed down with some Millett beer.
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    • Day 43

      Wise man

      November 2, 1989 in Mali

      Next morning we set off to Teli, about 4kms along the base of the Falaise. Ankle was stiff but loosened up after a while. A pleasant walk, not too hot and lots of bright colour birds and exotic noises. In Teli we were again introduced to the chief and then visited the old village. Had tea in a rather picturesque Campement with lots of gourds hanging from a vine. There is still one old wise man living in the old village who still follows his animist beliefs and has his food brought to him daily by his sons.Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Republic of Mali, Mali, ማሊ, مالي, Malí, Малі, Мали, মালি, མ་ལི།, Mali nutome, Μάλι, Malio, مالی, Maali, Mailí, માલી, מאלי, माली, Մալի, マリ, მალი, ម៉ាលី, ಮಾಲಿ, 말리, Mālī, ມາລິ, Malis, മാലി, မာလီ, ମାଳୀ, Malïi, මාලි, மாலீ, మాలి, Малӣ, มาลี, Māli, Maliyän, Orílẹ́ède Mali, 马里共和国, i-Mali

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