Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Remembering a Mission: The first day in Mali

May 15 – The first day

            This was our first full day in Bamako. Our trip began Friday the 13th with frantic packing and a flight to morocco. Our flight on Royal Air Maroc was good. During our flight to Bamako we flew into a monsoon – literally. We ran across the tarmac to the shuttle bus, all of 200 feet, and were soaked head to toe. The bags that were missing we discovered were left in Casablanca due to weight restrictions on the planes. We spent a couple of hours trying to get all of our bags together which communicating with Malian supervision through 1 translator (for 20 people). Everything in Mali is French. As we go to our accommodations, the rain had stopped leaving red muddy clay puddles for us to drudge through. Murphy’s law was at play when we discovered we had no electricity and not enough beds… Welcome to Africa.

            On our first night in Bamako we arrived at the house close to 2:30 a.m. local time. We spent a ton of time determining how we could best survive in a muggy 100 degrees F without ventilation or fans. We attempted placing mosquito nets over the windows – we failed. We then had no choice but to suffer. After NOT sleeping in the stifling heat, we rose at 7:00 a.m. when the power returned and the AC began chugging along – YAY SLEEP.

           Since we were only able to fall asleep at 7:00 a.m., we got 2 hours fo sleep before the alarm went off and my roomies awoke. I, however, continued to sleep until 11:00a.m. We spent the afternoon as tourists: we got lunch and we went to the market. Then we shopped …

5,000 Franc = $10.00

            At the beginning, the shopping trip was going very well. As we turned a corner we were suddenly mobbed with men speaking mostly French and some broken English trying to convince us to buy their goods. They would shove them in our faces and ask “how much will you pay?” We were surrounded, we were scared, doe-eyed Americans. It took a solid 45 minutes to round us up and get out of there! The mob followed us to the bus and continued to harass us through the windows until we started the engine and left.

3 Bracelets: 7,500 f = $15.00           
 1 Necklace: 5,000 f = $10.00
Time spent at market = Priceless

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