Tuesday, March 25, 2014


The border-crossing from Senegal to Mali was pretty straightforward. I used the tactic to drive up to the barrier and wait that some guy is shouting at me. He typically points to the building in which I need to go to get the paper work done. We got passavants for the bikes (15000 CFA per bike).

Each time I was finished at one office I received a coupon. Obviously those were required for the guy at the barrier. Since we parked our bikes already on the other side, I got now a few spares ;)

A Baobab tree - tall, thick, magnificent, stunning, majestic.
On this day we took it easy and only rode until Kayes. There were only two hotels besides each other located outside downtown. The one was a four star, looked expensive so we took the other one and even that one exhausted our budget. However dogs were ok and the bikes guarded during the night. Once more there was no mosquito net, but air-conditioning and the guy ensured there are no mosquitoes and they would spray before the night. Breakfast was included and I could exchange coffee and other nonsense for fruits. I only needed to inform what I would like to have. Cool service!

After another sleepless night of fighting with the mosquitos we got up early. Later I checked the breakfast and we wanted to do some web browsing at the same time. Well, with all tricks we were not able to connect any of our devices to the internet. So much for that. Instead of the (seasonal) fruits I ordered, we got 7 green bananas! I was pissed. The waiter topped that by demanding that I should pay for those. I gave all 7 bananas back, said keep it and went away. When passing the reception, I answered a clear "No!" to that standard question "Ça va?".We had our own ripe bananas for breakfast and started packing when the receptionist came, brought the 7 bananas and said it's ok - they are for free.

As usually when we walked with our girls, we were followed by kids, sheep and goats. Back in the hotel one well-dressed local approached me and insisted that I gave him Ulpu. I really needed to raise my voice to shake him off. What a moron!

One of the many villages we passed by.
The road from Kayes to Bofoulabe was in excellent condition. Shortly after Diamou the street crosses Bakoy river and there was a great spot to dip into the river on a hot day. I was suprised when the street ended suddenly at a ferry. Annoingly my Garmin knew that and told me to board the ferry. My large scale map hid that fact nicely. Anyway we took the ferry and since we wanted to find a hotel the ferry guy put us riding off on the way to Mahina. I looked at the map and could not make any sense out of how the ferry goes in regards to bridges and where we wanted to go.

I explained where we wanted to go to the ferry man and put faith into him that he knows what he is doing and put us at the correct shore. The first meters of the road after the ferry were horrible sand streets and my hopes it would get better, vanished rapidly. I asked some locals about the way to Mahina and they pointed us to an even worse looking street. This was not good. Both my GPS and the map indicated to go straight and so we did.

After a sweaty hour we arrived at a small village which was according to the map, the official cross point to Mahina. Once more I asked the locals and they confirmed my worries. That path looked even challenging for a donkey! No other way then to go straight. I went to the village boutique to find food (got one can of tomatoes, no fresh stuff!) and one of the kids refilled some of our water bottles.

Many other kids admired Skippy and the dogs. Skippy saw that many of the girls had holes in their ears. Since the kids were really well behaving (first time for us!), Skippy decided to donate her unused piercings to the girls. I think she made many girls happy and hopefully it was seen as a sign of thank you for them and not just the white woman bringing gifts.
Skippy making girls happy.
It was a serious struggle in first and second gear for the next two hours or even more! The temperature was +38C in shade and we needed to stop often to drink and to give water for girls. The bikes were running hot as well and the breaks helped to prevent overheating. After that the street became much better and our speed went up to 80 km/h. However many of the causeways were not finished yet and some of those diverts were really hard to find and then challenging to ride.

What a ride - do you see the road ;)
It was getting slowly dark, no hotels nearby and now it was certainly time to find a place to camp wild. The river was some few hundreds of meters away from the street and we decided to ride through the bushes towards the river in the hope to get a nice and refreshing evening swim before going to bed. We found an excellent spot, but by the time we had build the tent it was too dark to go for a swim. The river bed looked dangerously steep and we settled for our usual emergency shower, one bottle of water :D We were totally exhausted and went straight to bed without even eating anything. I was really proud of Skippy. She managed all those difficult passages without falling - good girl!

Tan lines are so last season! Sand lines are the hot new trend :D
Next morning we got up early and ate our last bananas. Obviously the breakfast was not big enough for Skippy and she fell (see the travelogue for this classic maneuver!). I came back and helped to lift the bike back up. After that it did not start anymore. What was broken now? It sounded like the fuel pump did not do anything and in the display it said "check". Obviously the breakfast wasn't big enough for me either. It took me almost one hour to get it going again. First I started to take the plastic parts off, lift the fuel tank, checked fuses and in the end consulted the manual. RTFM!
It was the kill switch! It moved to the OFF position during lifting the bike. Skippy seems not to have an eye for those issues yet and since it is not my bike I am not used to the optics and positions of switches.

Anyway, all parts back together and we went on. When we passed Toukoto I was stopped by the local police on his "Super K" and was told to report at the local police station. The chief came and dug out the 2014 book for foreign travelers. We were the first visitors for this year :) No wonder we were the attraction to many people!

The road continued to Kita in the same manner. Once we arrived there, all our stuff was covered by red sand dust. We went to the hotel and got a room with a fan and a mosquito net for a decent price.
We finally got some sleep that night. The street from Kita to Kati was again asphalt in some moderate condition, with a few more potholes to watch for. From Kati to Bamako it was in lousy condition, all worn out by trucks.

I must dream! Could it be??? A Bitburger in Kita?
No Bit - Flag is also ok when it's cold.
The trashy park opposite of our hotel. This would be such a beautiful place otherwise.

Papayas for breakfast.

When we looked for a place in Bamako, we found in the internet an auberge which was run by a Finnish African couple. Of course I thought of a Finnish lady who had found a guy here maybe during her travel... I hoped for clean place where things are working. Skippy on the other hand thought that no Finnish female with any brains would live in such a junk yard, so it would be a Finnish male with a big bar and cheap booze. Pretty stereotype thinking of us. Skippy was right :D

We arrived in the Auberge Imi quite early. It was good that we had announced ourselves as the hotel was fully booked that night. The next day we tried to get our visa to Ghana, but no luck. The guy (ambassador) was extremely bitchy and showed no signs of cooperation! He only repeated that we should have gotten our visas at our country of residence.

Well we went then to get our visa for Burkina Faso as it is supposedly cheaper at Bamako compared to getting them at the border. I went on the afternoon to the embassy to pick up our visas as well as finding some engine oil for the Suzi. The oil change was significantly overdue. The city traffic was really badly congested and it was close to +40 C in shade. My bike ran so hot that oil-steam came out of the right cylinder (I mean what else should steam at my bike?). I needed to pull over to cool down the engine before I could continue the remaining 6 km to the hotel.

The situation of trash and pollution continued all the way to Bamako and we had enough of it! A major change in our route must happen if we wanted to enjoy this road life!

We got a - what I call - "oven room" on the roof terrace. Heated up during the entire day and no isolation. The room got cooler again at 04 in the morning shortly after which the sun rose and the oven started again to heat up. The good thing was we had windows open on both sides and got a decent natural draft. The water stopped running at least once a day for some hours. Electricity cuts were also normal and at least here they had a generator for to recover from major outages.
Girls are bored and dead tired from the heat of our "oven"
Making laundry was also an experience. We had quite a bunch of stuff including girls beds. I asked the Finnish man where can I do laundry like a whole machine at once. He did not know and asked his guard. Obviously it was a strange request and so we got the answer by the next day's afternoon. The guard was very kind and showed me the place and I went there later with my laundry. First they seemed to understand. Only wash, no pressing.

The fact that I want to dry the clothes myself was already beyond comprehension. The lady started to count piece by piece and I already knew then that communication had failed. She started to calculate and somewhere in the middle, the bill was already now by 30 EUR, I stopped her. Another attempt to explain the whole thing was a waste of my time and so I packed my stuff, complained in French as good as I could and left.

The next shop was the same procedure and finally at the third one I got lucky. The guy spoke a few words English and that helped. The price was still pretty high, but therefore they also dried the clothes as I was still unable to make my self understood. I am not sure what poisons they used, but my T-shirts were as clean as new. Next day I brought another load.

Bamako city traffic is cumbersome and it took us quite some time to get out of there until we were at the big road towards Bougouni. For reasons I could not understand the Suzi lost the two M8 screws from the engine protection plate. On one side there was even the nut gone which was welted on the plate holder. Very strange indeed. Lucky for us I just happened to have the two suitable M8 screws extra in my topcase and thus the repair took only 5 minutes.

Once more - the Suzi has some screws missing :)
After arrival in Bougouni, we needed to ask locals for a hotel as there were no signs from the major road indicating that there are some. We found a decent hotel with great internet connection and stayed for two nights, because Skippy wanted to see the Oscars - a yearly tradition of her's. At least a small cheer-up :)
Mango trees and more mango trees and an almost clean walk-way.
A nosy fellow.
The only problem in this village was to find fresh fruits. On our second day we literally circled around the village and found one(!) stand selling mangoes and another one(!) with a few papayas. Veggies were easy to find and I also found some vinegar for cleaning them. Good for us that we had some canned food with us from Bamako and Skippy could fabricate a good salad.

Finally, we heard good news from our international driving licenses! They returned from Aourir, Morocco back to Finland. At least they were not lost. Let's see how we will get them. For now we try to manage with a copy of them ;)

What a name :D
Next stop was Sikasso. The first three hotels did not allow dogs and the fourth had no running water and no internet. Why should I pay for that? So we rode to the waterfalls of Farako and built our tent there for me and girls, and Skippy could enjoy her hammock again. Now we had at least "running water" :D

The road from Sikasso to the waterfalls was brand new asphalt. What a delight to ride! This was - maybe besides the one gravel road in Atlas mountains - the best and most enjoyable place we have been so far in Western Africa.

Chutes de Farako - Waterfalls of Farako
Huge holes in the ground
AND deep as well!
All girls got a wash.
The next morning we woke up with the sun and packed our stuff when it was still cool. The excellent road continued for a few kilometers until it turned back into a good gravel road (new road is under construction). Soon we arrived at the border post towards Burkina Faso.

Bright red balls of a tree.
Bizarre and big flower.
Creature which looks like a wooden stick.
Fun game - sheep eat the sun-drying cashews.
Again plenty of video material put in our Travelogue number 11.

~ Wolfi

p.s. Flemm (weibl., Saarländischer Dialekt) - Unlust, Depression, genug haben, Trägheit, die Nase voll haben, traurig/niedergeschlagen sein (Wikipedia),

No comments:

Post a Comment