Bamako. So many good things and many interesting encounters. Last night at Sleeping Camel with a generous hand of the team was marked by free beer for me adoring departure and add a slight feeling of instant nostalgia when I observed how door of the bar being locked and the people reaching for the “last for today”.
In the morning I was packed my stuff back for a long time having fun with a square print of my tent on the ground. Bad news – gloves, lived on its last legs, collapsed completely. Yes, the climate does not spare anything. Differing literally at the seams, so on my arms were two halves dangling. Well, to their credit, these was the most durable gloves in my practice. However, there was the burning question – I have cover my hands from the sun. I knew that feeling when skin is burning beneath our star and you don’t feel it during movement. I dug at the bottom of hermobag and found rain glove covers (thanks, Dilbert!!!) and pinned them. Too hot and not air flow through but it will protect from the sun. It’ll do.
Already equipped I said goodbye to everyone in turn, with each of those to whom I for many, many days in a row say good morning and good night. It is time to move on. I made a route to the next point in my navi – the country of Burkina Faso, the city of Bobo-Dioulasso. There I was waited by Andrej and Evgen, those Slovenian guys which I helped with repairing of their truck. Andrew lived in Bobo for three years and for me it was important – to have the spot, and definitions sometimes gave me confidence. I have funds to barely reach Bobo and I rolled onto the sun-drenched tarmac of Bamako.
Landscapes around engendered a feeling of comfort and serenity. Green all around, little strange, as if I drive on another planet. Along the road grows high little burnt from the sun grass, behind it green-green trees followed by a sort of thicket but in African style – all that low, stretches to the ground. Exceptions were baobabs – huge powerful relics. From time to time they get to the eyes, those sprouting mighty giants over the rest of the vegetation. The road was smooth and good, occasionally accompanied by chains of holes.
I did quite short distance during the day, about 300 kilometers away, and the sun is slowly inclined towards the sunset. It was about 200 kilometers to the border of Burkina Faso and I decided it would be wiser to find shelter away from prying eyes during daytime, rather than go to the border and look for a place under the cover of darkness. I slipped into one of the exits from tarmac, did a little wander and found a great meadow. Scattered tent, filled burner with petrol and put water on the fire. Just at right time to catch the last rays of sunset. After dinner with instant soup and beans in the dark (in these latitudes darkness comes very quickly and suddenly) I lit a cigarette, looking at the stars stood out. It is good to be back on the road. After washing the dishes I crawled into the tent almost knocking mound nearby. And, oddly enough, I had fallen asleep almost immediately, as usually I’m quite a night person.
I woke up early in the morning, had breakfast similar to dinner meal, packed the bags and got out of the bush on the road. I quickly passed Sikasso and was at the border. Traditionally preparing myself to overcome customs difficulties I arrived at the border post consisting of a wooden gate of a tree trunk and a small building of customs. Guards on duty at the barrier pointed out by gestures to the building. I parked nearby and walk in. It turns out that if I leave Mali and I’m taking nothing declarable with me I can safely go on. I did. I drove to the border crossing, the next log fence. Here I was a little delayed, chatting with the Malian border guards, who jokingly offered me to give them a motorcycle or a camera or anything, demonstrated some knowledge of Russian language (!) and eventually put a stamp of departure, wishing bon voyage. I drove in Burkina Faso.
The process of customs clearing in Burkina was quite simple and logical. I had to pay 5000CFA for “Lassier-passier” analogue of “pasavant” in Senegal but far more valid, which frees me from having to extend it in the central customs office anywhere in the capital. Oh, and one of the officers at customs took my contacts, because he wants to go to Russia to serve in the army there, suddenly. Here, using the fact that the Malian SIM card is still not in roaming, I called Andrew in Bobo-Dioulasso and said that I’m on my way, having received additional guidance where I should look for him in the city.
Here is a typical village on the road:
I arrived in Bobo a little past noon, stopped to make call and was picked up by Evgen. We drove to one of the houses (of course with tall walls around), where inside I met Andrej and his wife – Shpela (also Slovene), and three gorgeous, wonderful dogs: Paco, Gandhi and Shisha. Andrej and Shpela rented rooms for guests who wanders through airbnb (mostly those who came here to work) and I was allowed to put up a tent on the land plot without payment in exchange for help in the necessary work on the house maintaining. Andrej doing some business in the sale and installation of solar panels and related equipment, and in Bamako he told me that it would be very, very useful to help him in this matter. However, subsequently I have not had a chance to participate in this case – this is Africa, and issues can be resolved in weeks. But at that time I was obsessed with the idea to work with my hands.
Here, in the courtyard, I saw a huge truck brand “TAM”. The Yugoslav Army gigantic size military truck that Andrej remade for traveling and spent several years of adventures in the Sahara and the Sahel. Adorable reliability and ease of assembly. Short wheel-based, high clearance. Looking at it you can not hesitate to say that this thing will go everywhere. The ideal transport for traveling in Africa. At some point, when I learned that my bike costs about the same as this huge contraption suspicious ideas crept in my head, hehe :)
I spent more than a week at this charming place and made a lot of work of keeping the house during the days and in the evening immersed in the local life in the company of Andrej and Evgen. Evgen, authentic Slovenian bear and Andrej, lean and hardened, they seemed to complement each other. And among other things – they were just a walking collection of aphorisms and jokes. As soon as one utter a phrase – the second immediately supplemented it with humor so I sometimes bursting out laughing. I felt very, very sorry that I didn’t had a good voice recorder to record all of their utterances. “The ugly and the stupid”, as they called themselves, hehe.
I was watching the local life. People here are very kind, and seemed to justify the name of their country (Burkina Faso means “land of honored people”). There are of course, some not so good individuals, but it’s like everywhere. Despite the fact that the majority of the population – the Muslims, the issue of religion here is not involved in the social life. Religion here is private thing. And talking about it is not accepted. More than that – every child achieving the 15th anniversary, no matter what religion it raised earlier, have right to choose, and not disputed. The only thing that here would be not understood – if you do not believe at all.
Funny fact – there is no centralized gas supply, so gas cans should be regularly refilled. So, different companies have painted their cans in different colors and refuse to fill cans of another company. The benefit is simple – if you don’t have time to search for proper place to refill your colored can – buy gas together with a can! Profit :)
Little of Bobo:
Once we talked about local cuisines of different worlds, and I voiced the idea – to stir up the shashlik. The idea has found support among hosts and guests. The hosts bought proper meat. Here it is not so easy – the meat is good, but the vast majority of local butchers just take a machete in hand and begin hewing from the heart without thinking. Therefore, on the street in the same place at different times it is possible to try both the super-delicious fried meat and the unbearably nasty meatgum. Fortunately Andrej knew a butcher who knew a lot about butchering. At the central market we were able to find a reasonable set of spices and bought wine – and I did my first beef shashlik (pork here is still a rarity) tried to convey our authentic russian shashlik. Andrej was able to find brochettes in his truck stored there from immemorial times and we built a backyard barbecue stove. Five hours of marinating later I started to cook, warning guests that I do not promise anything tastier than rubber soles, but I worried to no purpose – the meat turned out tender, juicy (I previously smeared meat on skewers with oil and first made a meatcrust on high heat) and having aroma in the almost perfect combination. Hail me! :)
On the morning of the same day I had an interview on radio Silver Rain. Thanks Igor Cherskiy – he told about me to Olesya, radio chief editor, with the result that we have agreed to make call and let me tell a little bit about Africa and my journey. I was pretty worried, after all, not every day you speak before such big audience. However, everything went just fine, and I felt a huge surge of vitality and enthusiasm when my friends left positive comments about the last transmission. More than that – maybe after a week we going to chat again! Listen to the radio Silver Rain :) Actually, the radio – a great thing. Very good nonverbally feeling of the audience’s attention.
But all good things must come to an end. One day I woke up earlier than usual, got out of the tent and found that I feel a little cold. Not from any illness, but just because I’m became so used to the heat and woke up earlier than usual. I looked at the thermometer outside and found +24C. Brew a cup of tea to warm up, I sat in my usual place in terrace corner, made a sip, and realized that it’s time to move on.
Oddly enough – I’m going to Ouagadougou, although initially I was not planning to visit it. Why is that – I explain in the next post. With your support – only forward! :)