Time to move!

Douentza Travel Blog

 › entry 39 of 98 › view all entries

My time here in Timbuktu was well over due to end and I was keen to get on the move south, Tim arrived the day before and we set off.  The route from Timbuktu had been improved all the way up and there was no deep sandy ruts to ride through.  We decided to camp and the bottom of the dirt track just before Douentza close to a large rocky escarpment, a nice camp spot.  The next day we stopped for water by a village well to the interest of the local children.  Had to stay longer than intended because I had a flat front tyre (2nd flat, 5th puncher).  The kids here were very interested to see what was going on and one young kid took a keen interest with his dirty purple football top on, he watched me and everything I was doing.  I could see the logic working in his head as he tried to help me, the other kids poked him and pulled his ears, making fun of him but he ignored them making sure my tools were together and not spread around.  Then we started to sing a funny tune the kids would mimic you to much laughter (I did my usual Norn Iron accent thing and they tried to copy me, very funny), this was a nice place to fix a puncher.  How many more times will I get punchers!!  (once more on this tyre but that comes later…) 

With the tyre fixed we see off down to Dogon Country, has various villages along it and I was nice to see them growing vegetables and food, it was very hard to get good fresh food in Mali and the market in Timbuktu had the worst quality food I’ve seen (the meat had the most flies all over it I’ve ever seen).  The route ran over the top of a cliff top and had great views below, most of the landscapes so far was flat so this was a welcome change.  Our route was south towards Burkina Faso  border and we camped up on new years eve and was asleep by midnight before reaching the border.

Mali is about the 3rd poorest in the world and it showed in my time their.  Everything was very expensive compared to other countries.  Unfortunately the future for Mali does not seem that bright.  I’ve been reading a good book called The Bottom Billion by a Oxford professor talking about the poorest people in the world, the bottom billion people, who mostly live in Africa. He takes a scientific approach interrupting data to analysis the effects and causes (during this trip though Africa I wanted to learn more about the problems they face and see for myself).  Mali is land locked so everything depends on neighbouring countries to import and export but what if the roads are bad?  This pushes the cost up plus it backs onto a large area of the Sahara.  It’s neighbours are also very poor, little income from them and some are in conflict which has a big impact.  There has been an increase in kidnappings and even while I was there different people were kidnapped by bandits and sold off to al-Qaeda.  Mali is also a country with bad governance and policies.  Mali has many problems…           

It has been a while since I’ve updated the blog, to be honest my mood has not been good and the fatigue of travelling in this part of the world got the better of me...  It is also that time of the year over Christmas and I am a long way from Paulina, family and friends, I was missing the people that know me.  The very hot dusty days, brain slowly cooking in the helmet and the lack of nice food also took its toll on me.  It’s not all fun and excitement here, there is lots of things to consider and you can’t carry that much.  Doing a trip like this changes you, your outlook on life changes, thinking hard about your life…  the experience of this trip is changing me.


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