We arrived into Bamako yesterday afternoon, after a 12 hour bus journey and two long flights. The idea of legroom has not reached Kenya Airways yet! The bus journey was also slightly reflective of our momentous journey to Tofo few days previously – again we spent several hours at the roadside waiting for a mechanic to arrive to fix something, and the engine overheated…In Africa, one is always told that something will be done ‘now’. However, in a non-watch wearing society, this can mean anything up to half a day. We emerged from the airport to 35 degree heat – and this is winter!!

Arriving Bamako

This is however the dry season, and there is a pleasant breeze – although it feels a little like a hairdryer! Bamako on first impressions is quite Arabic in style, albeit a little faded. People are very friendly, and not at all aggressive in their selling techniques – a plesant surprise. Speaking a little French helps I guess. It also appears not to be as poor as Mozambique. We have explored a little on foot. It’s noisy and smelly on the main roads,with local buses, cars and mopeds clamouring for roadspace. The French have left their mark in the lovely patisseries which serve good coffee and croissants. We visited the Grand Marche, street upon street of stalls selling everything. It is colourful and totally crazy but not intimidating. We also visited the Qrtisan Market, where people dry out leather and turn it into bags and shoes, and we watched crqftsmen turn lumps of metal to ornate rings, using open charcoal ovens to melt the metal. Outside this place we found the ‘Fetish’ market, selling stuff used in local ,agic such as dead budgies, skulls of various small animals and lumps of unidentifiable substances! After all the craziness we found relative calm in the Medina Coura residential area, where people are very friendly. Extended families live in small houses around courtyards – you can glimpse activity within – cooking, washing and card games.

We left Bamako at our leisure on the 13th, taking our chances with local transport.  We started on a bus that looked like this:

Local bus Bamako Local bus

But only as far as the centre of Bamako!

Girls making gallettes 

Jane with the street pancake sellers

Bamako Kids Local Kids

Cathal with Coke seller Coke Stall

Watermelon sales lady

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