Monday 16th February 09 Bandiagara to ? via Mopti. Continued

I take a look around Mopti and enjoy the waterfront but then decide to head back to Bandiagara filing my previous journal on the way. It is early when I get back so I head out on a piste which seems promising. No signs along the way and after stopping to view some lovely villages I turn back. When I get back to the camping I find that this was in fact the road to Sangha and I just stopped a little short. Not to worry as I have to protect my leg for now. At the camping I meet a young Moroccan woman, Miriam, around mid 20’s who is travelling through this area and on to Burkina alone. Now who says I am brave. She is planning on a few days hiking in Dogon and has fortunately met up with a Canadian guy with similar intentions so I think they will have a fun time.

I cook food and retire at a sensible hour.

Tuesday 17th February 09 Bandiagara round trip.

I head out on a different piste after breakfast today. It is really quite nice and I am fortunate that a tourist guide drives past and means that I take 1 turn I may have missed. I end up in Yawa which is stunning for it’s views down onto the plain from the rocks. It is also a great drive down and then I am backing desert territory. The tracks are confusing and I make a few different routes. I end up going down one bit thinking it may be tricky to return and end up in a village with a huge amount of kids around me. At this point I make the decision that I need to deflate the tyres and that is interesting for the surrounding throng. It is rather loud and I have a good look around before making ready to leave. I am having a bit of difficulty hearing the name of the village so I ask a young boy who has a schoolbook to write it in my book for me with my pen. The name of the village is Guimini and his name is Saiyara. As a thank you I give him the pen to use for school. Of course this then leads to everyone wanting a gift but I am firm on this and they just get a thank you. I take a picture of the kids which they think is fun and hopefully I’ll be able to get a copy to them after the trip ends. I head off and after a bit of a detour along various right and wrong pistes head back up the difficult bit in high range with no problem.

It is a good journey back and I arrive in time to settle down for an early tea.

After my tea Miriam arrives back at the site and we have a nice chat before it is time to sleep. She did a law degree in France and is travelling for a while before deciding what to do as she has been put off law after finding out what lawyers have to do. She and the Canadian guy are having a car pick them up in the morning and off for three days into the Dogon country with a guide.

Wednesday 18th February 09 Bandiagara to Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou)

I get up to fetch bread and make my breakfast as usual. Out of her room comes Miriam with enough gear for 2 months, well that’s how long she is travelling. I take a photo for you all but have to spill the beans that they are using a local guy who is a bearer to carry it all for her otherwise, by her own admission, she wouldn’t get 800m.

I shower and pack all the stuff away making sure I am fuelled up and full in my water tank. I set off hoping to find the village of Teli which is one of the real villages built into the mountain. I have a point marked for it and it appears to be on my route. I set off and the road is inconsistent to say the least but there are some very nice views and villages. Oh yes, while I remember, on the way to get bread this morning I passed a young boy of about 10 years heading the opposite way with a goat on a trolley. Unfortunately for the goat he also had a bucket and a big knife.

I get to Teli having driven down a beautiful mountain pass. I took some pictures of a Dutch mum and child who I also met at Bandiagara. It looks like the father didn’t recover from his upset stomach. They are travelling in a huge truck which one of the fathers built. I think they are finding it a bit on the large side. I also gave them a copy of the template for the fiche that I am using so they can prepare for Mauritania and Western Sahara. I will put one of the pictures on if they are any good. Teli is very nice but wishing to look after my knee I decline the opportunity to climb up and around the village. So off on a road that gets progressively worse to the border. Out of Mali is simple and clean. On about 40 kms to Burkina Faso. I think there must be a dispute as to who looks after the road here as it has quite large potholes. Please beware. Arriving at the Burkina border the police is fine and the customs just a little more methodical with a cursory glance at the contents of the vehicle.

I drive on into my next country and make for the OK Inn at Ouagadougou. I arrive in the city as it is getting dusk and am amazed by the number of mopeds and bicycles. It is also very smoggy and difficult to see. I finally get to the OK Inn and am allowed to camp for free. They allow this for overlanders but expect you to use the bar and restaurant for some of your stay. I am a little shocked by it’s other purpose which appears to encourage the local pimps to sell their wares to older European men. Quite unsavoury actually and strange to see it in such a nicely laid out environment.

I obviously don’t partake and retire reasonably early to be up early for the Ghana Embassy.

Thursday 19th February 09 Ouagadougou.

In a bad mood but I’ll get to that in a bit. I go and get bread as normal (not so good today) and have breakfast and pack up the tent as it is quite a trek to the Embassy. I set off with all the necessary documents and arrive around 9ish. A lady gives me a quadruplicate form to fill in and they have a nice shaded table in the courtyard for you to do this. The form is straightforward but I don’t really have references in Ghana. I plan to go to Tema and arrange my shipping followed by a trip into Togo and return to Ghana to ship and fly. The lady says the one reference of the shipping agent is enough and then actually tries to help me financially. A single entry visa is 15,000CFA a multiple is 36,000 valid for 6 months. She suggests I get a single and get another single from Togo. This would be cheaper but would involve another 4 photos and more waiting time so I opt to get it all done with a multiple there and then. I am told to return tomorrow at 11.30.

It is all going well and I next head off finding a street selling office facilities such as photocopying and laminating. I need to get a replacement done of my poster which advertises the CD as this fell off in Mauritania and had worked well up to that point. I locate the right places for each task and will return tomorrow with USB stick in hand.

Heading off I end up with the day being ruined. At a roundabout I see another Landrover with roof tent stopped at the exit I am waiting to go to. It then moves off and my lights turn to green. I follow the traffic round and am pulled over by a policeman. He asks to see documents and keeps going until he actually holds one in his hand. Schoolboy error but I don’t really have the photocopies to hand. Will remedy this tomorrow. He then tells me I have a fine to pay for travelling through a red light. This is a scam. I reckon the other vehicle got caught in the same way. I unfortunately can’t get through the language barrier and come away 10,000CFA lighter which is probably twice the going rate . I am very annoyed as it is blatant corruption against which you have no real say. That was around 4 days budget which would have gone to local traders who need the money. I hope the other vehicle did better. The GPS for this location is N12’22.290 W1’31.186 as I think this is probably a regular point. Angry. I’ll finish this later when calm.

Slightly calmer as I meet a French couple who have had a similar experience. Why do the police steal from their fellow countrymen in this way. Oh well, best to avoid the cities. Done some washing but can’t get rid of the dust.

Just picked up e-mail and have received one from a guy, travelling as a couple, who is encouraging me to drive not ship. I am partly tempted but once again am brought back to the fact that I am travelling alone. I have already seen more than was in my original plan which had been just to ship from Europe to Namibia. I adapted to the current one because I wanted to see the Sahara and Mali. I’ll keep you all posted. Please keep the guestbook alive as it is nice to see.

I’ll send this now and let you know how I get on with the rest of Burkina later.