Back Into Mali

Because of the visa situation and timing, I’m making a run back into Mali to pickup one last visa before I move off again. I cross over at the major border of Pogo, in The North East of Ivory Coast. On the Ivorian side the formalities are downright friendly, with the immigration officer being very polite and very interested to hear how I enjoyed Ivory Coast.
When I leave, he wishes me all the best, and it’s entirely genuine.

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The main street of what I would call a typical Malian village

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A typical mud-brick house in the area. Roofs are natural straw, or sometimes tin

On the Mali side I’m stamped in without problem, and my details are even entered into a computer instead of a giant paper ledger (wow!). At customs the man says the temporary import permit costs twice as much after 2pm. I raise my eyebrows and ask the time, and checking his cell phone I can see the disappointment on his face – it’s 1:56pm.
“Great!” I say, and pay the lower (normal) price of 5,000CFA (almost $10) for the permit.

I make my way to a tiny village where a friend is volunteering as a doctor and spend a couple of days soaking it all in. It’s amazing to see how healthcare works on the ground. Everything is raw and very real. It’s all a lot rougher than I imagined.

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Crossing a small mud bridge over a river/swampy area near town

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The view into the distance from the village. Trash everywhere

We wander around the village on foot and on scooter – which I ride hesitantly at first – and it’s obvious the locals are not at all accustomed to tourists. At first suspicious, they are all extremely friendly and welcoming when my friend says hello in the native language of Bambara. When I get out my camera, people quickly jump in, actively wanting to be in my photos. Everyone laughs and smiles, and we soon have an entourage escorting us around the village, chatting and enjoying the afternoon.

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This dude was blaring his music, and was too cool to smile

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This girl was riding this bike that is way too big for her, with infant sister on her back

I am again blown away by how happy and friendly the regular person on the street is. These people have nothing, and yet smile more than anyone I’ve met in Canada or Australia. They are also extremely happy to share what little food and water they have, which again blows me away. I’m curious to know if there is a word in the native language for “stress”, though we can’t figure out how to ask. In the end, I decide there isn’t, based on their actions and general attitude.

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Lots of kids

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A family happy to pose

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Cows regularly browse through piles of trash for food

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Water tap – with padlock

It’s fantastic to stop in at The Sleeping Camel again and see my friends, and after a tense wait I get the all-important visa, and wave a final goodbye.

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Drying the laundry in rural Mali is a little different

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A couple of boys happy to pose

Farewell Mali, for real.  It’s time for a new country.

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Sunsets continue to get more and more epic


4 Responses

  1. Javier G says:

    Beautiful trip, have been following it for a while.

    Excellent comment on the happiness of people even when they have so little.
    One often finds the happiest people in those that have the least.


  2. JP says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for reporting! Beautiful pictures ! The water tap with padlock is a powerful one.

    How’s the Jeep holding up ?

    (Your picture looks underexposed by 1/2 stop on your website. I’m working on a calibrated monitor, maybe that’s why…! Just letting you know!)

    • Dan Grec says:

      Thanks JP!

      Yes, I underexpose a little in the midday sun, otherwise everything is very, very washed out!

      Also, Jeep is running great, very soon there will be a big update on maintenance, repairs and upgrades I have just done!

  3. Kira says:

    Made me laugh about Ivorian/Malian border, exactly the opposite in December on my way south back to Abengourou!

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