Burkina Faso and Mali
well. Where should we start ? Last news were from Ushuaia,
bottom end of the world. Were now in Bamako, Mali, and
impressions have been piling up faster than snow in countries
far away from where we are. Harhar.
3000 or so kilometers from Tierra de Fuego to Buenos Aires
were quite uneventful in terms of the landscape, mostly taking
us through endless straight stretches of highways and nondesript
patagonian country. One attraction was the relentless wind
that forced us to ride against it at an angle that would usually
make us fall over anywhere else and slapping us around brutally
with every passing truck. We had to fight like hell at times
to keep the bikes from blowing into the oncoming traffic.
welcome distraction was offered by meeting Erwin Thoma, a
german round-the-world biker with whom we rode and camped
with for a couple of days, our campsites being patagonion
gas stations that would be the only places offering shelter
from the wind mentioned above.
reaching Buenos Aires, we took it easy for a couple of days,
enjoying the dangerously good argentinian wine and food and
partying like fiends. Total distance covered by the time we
got to Buenos Aires was almost exactly 30.000 kilometers in
five months since Alaska.
we had decided to change our initial plan by dropping our
visit to New Zealand and extending our time in Africa, we
opted for a stopover in Luxembourg in order to treat ourselves
and the bikes to some very welcome attention by friends and
mechanics, respectively. It worked very well, in both cases.
Thanks. We should be sponsored by Pinot Noir, we deserve it.
airline, Cargolux, after flying us from Buenos Aires to Luxembourg,
also transported us to Accra, Ghana, where we spent a few
days visiting and getting acquainted with yet another unfamiliar
culture. Ghana is spectacular. The city itself was not much,
but the people and the reception more than compensated for
that. We had been warned that West Africa was a constant hassle,
so the very minimal hassle we actually encountered seemed
minor in comparison with the good experiences.
the people were not all that used to seeing tourists, much
less on motorcycles, so the usual greeting was surprise mixed
with a lot of curiosity, followed by what seemed like a hearfelt
«You are welcome ». From Accra, we rode west to
Cape Coast, then north to Kumasi, heart of Ashanti territory,
and on to Kintampo and Mole National Park.
to Cape Coast, we met Christian, a german desert biker with
whom we rode into and through the park. The road wasnt
exactly easy, consisting mostly of washboard, alternating
with some deep sand just for fun, but we made it. In the park,
apart from seeing elephants very very up close (see pictures,
will only be available once we get back to Europe end of March,
sorry) , I also had the pleasure to drive our guide around
on the back of the bike, dropping him along with his machine
gun into the sand at one particularly difficult passage. He
took it very graciously. He was also very useful in swatting
Tsetse flies while we we were driving, since the flies would
distract me from concentrating on driving the bike which in
turn would make him pretty nervous. If in Mole, say Hello
to James, hes all you can expect from a good guide.
We rode on around the park into Burkina Faso, where we only
spent four days, two of which were in Bobo-Dioulasso, where
once again we met pleasant people (including Ramin, an Iranian-Italian
riding a BMW around West Africa), heard some good music and
did some serious shopping. Just before the border, we spent
a night in Tumu, which is mostly worth mentioning because
of Latif and Alex, two locals that took us into their protection,
showed us the sights, fed us Fufu (dont ask...) and
the local firewater ( called Asabe, quote « the white
man calls it local drink ») and introduced us to their
Bobo, the road led us to Sikasso in Mali, and on to Bamako,
to a much anticipated reunion with a very good friend, Manu
and his wife Nathalie, friends from Luxembourg that have been
living in Mali for the past eighteen months. In accordance
with tradition, we spent the weekend partying, after which
we left by car for Mopti and Dogon Country where we spent
a few days admiring what is deservedly considered as being
the main tourist attraction in Mali.
are one of the most homogenous tribal groups in West Africa,
with a very distinct culture which is accentuated by the fact
that they mostly live either on top or on the bottom of a
huge cliff in the middle of nowhere, the Falaise de Bandiagara.
Their cosmogony continues to intrigue ethnologists in general,
they are swarmed with tourists, yet it seems that they manage
so far to maintain to a large extent their own style of living.
Another one of those places to come back to for further exploring.
getting back to Bamako, we spent yet another great weekend
with our friends, and thats where this update ends.
We are now heading for Mauritania, via Nioro du Sahel, Route
de lEspoir, Nouakchott and Choum, where we plan to catch
the train to Nouadhibou and cross the border to Morocco. Inch