I’ll be heading home from Mali this weekend, so there might not be too many entries on this blog for a while . . . until I head off on the next stage of my adventures, that is. I’ll try to post a few more pictures up here before I leave (in between saying goodbye to everyone here, and doing last-minute souvenir and fabric shopping!)
I’m not going to write about the obvious subject today, but want to reassure everyone that I and the rest of the team are all safe and well in Bamako.
Here are a few photos of my current roof terrace-based sleeping arrangements, designed to cope with temperatures of 27 degrees at night:
Panic not, everyone! Although the BBC News website is making Bamako sound rather scary due to military protests in the city centre, tonight everything is very calm in Hamdallaye-ACI 2000 (the area where I’m staying). I’m safe and sound and off to sleep on the roof terrace at the office . . .
My perfect Mali lunch starts ten minutes’ walk from the office, at a little restaurant run by a Togolese lady. On the menu: riz gras (rice cooked in beef stock with tomatoes), beans with a delicious sauce that looks like red pesto and tastes like heaven, and sweet fried plantain. Occasional sightings of rats near the kitchen have not been enough to put me off yet.
For dessert, it’s a toss-up between Malian yoghurt which, completely unexpectedly, is the most delicious yoghurt I’ve ever tasted, or mangoes – in season at the moment and for sale on every street in Bamako.
This weekend, we visited a desert island . . . or the Mali equivalent, which is an island on the River Niger in Bankoumana, a village outside Bamako.
We had a hot and eventful taxi journey there, involving burst tyres, heated negotiations with the taxi drivers and lots of stopping to ask for directions. The journey culminated in a long drive down a very bumpy road which looked like it was heading into the middle of nowhere, still not quite sure if we were going the right way, as the driver cast anxious glances at the petrol gauge . . .
But then we arrived and everything was fabulous. We travelled in a gondola-style “pirogue” to our own tiny island for an afternoon of eating banana sandwiches and mangoes, swimming in the river and sunbathing. It was really tranquil – one of my favourite magic Mali moments so far.