Ca Va Mali

Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
Trip End Dec 16, 2012

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Flag of Mali  ,
Thursday, December 29, 2011

Well, we finally entered Mali, we didn't know what to expect. We had already suffered disappointment with travel warnings, against travel to the Dogon and Djenna areas. Yes, these areas were the most popular tourist attractions Mali had to offer, but recent kidnappings and a shooting of tourists in nearby Timbuktu, made these areas a no go zone. The Dogon tribe visit, and the mud mosque at Djenna were to be major highlights of West Africa, but for us, it wasn't meant to be. So for Mali, the question was 'Ca va Mali' (French for 'How are you, Mali!') and we were soon to learn that Mali was open for business for us.
Our first couple of days in Mali allowed us to bush camp in some amazing surroundings. At times the surroundings could be mistaken for outback Australia. The rugged scorched earth, pristine water ways and eucalyptus trees. The red dust was everywhere and even gave the truck its first dose of a sand bog. It was amazing how excited the boys got when the truck got bogged, which allowed them to use the sand ladders for the first time.
When it comes to bush camping, in Western Mali we were treated to five star bush camping on the stoney bank of a river. It was beautiful and really refreshing, being able to wash for the first time in days. Ca va Mali, so far, so good!
We then got a really pleasant surprise, stopping at the small village of Manantali, for the soul purpose of cook group shopping. 'Ca va, Ca va, Ca va!!!', as we climbed down the stairs of the truck, we were greeted with heaps of bright smiles of Malian children who had probably never seen white people in their lives. They were happy to get their photo taken and when shown the photo, all they could do was crack up laughing. It was so special. We then ventured into the market and we got the same friendly 'Ca va' from all the adults and children working in the market. We were high on life, loving the friendliness of these people. Ca va Mali!!!
Kita was another great experience for food group shopping, and the locals were once again friendly. Words can't describe the look on locals faces as we perused the market, and all they could do was smile and say, Ca va!
Leading into Christmas, we headed to the capital city of Bamako. It was great to spend seven nights in one place, but unlike Western Mali, not all the locals were as friendly. We experienced things being thrown at the truck, and Karen even had a near encounter with the military police. Okay, okay, Karen wasn't so innocent, but it was an accident, taking a photo of a mural attached to the National Assembly could of happened to anyone. Grabbed by a military policeman was a little bit of a wake up call, but a quick delete of the photo and rushing off helped, but a fellow passenger wasn't so lucky. Lisa was dragged by three military policeman, then got away, then was hunted down in the market by at least six of them. Her camera was taken off her and she was marched back to the building, but talked her way out of it and got her camera back. We were in West Africa!!!! Ca va, Mali? Not so good that day!
Christmas crept up on us, and before we knew it, we celebrated the big day dressed in local outfits, and indulged in lots of food, alcohol and a pig on the spit. What a great Christmas!
As we left Bamako, we were back in the friendly Mali that we knew and loved. More bush camping, small town market shopping, and admiring the locals friendly attitude and the awesome hair dos of all the local girls. As we reflect on our time in Mali, there is one thing that we will never forget. Driving down dusty roads, passing small local villages where the local kids ran out of the village and chased the truck screaming 'Ca va, Ca va' and waving frantically, trying to keep up with us, how amazing! Mali was great so hopefully one day, we will be lucky enough to again say, 'Ca va Mali'!
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