UPDATE TEN YEARS AFTER...28June2017:Mali 2017Latest Update - Broken State?l
Nov 15...to Mali, walked to taxi lot at 6:30am, since we had been ckg the nite before I think they knew we were coming...all the taxi guys pointed to a single taxi to Bamako, the price was just what was quoted the nite before, the driver loaded the bags(no addl charge), told us to get in and off we went to pick up 3 others who were waiting! We got to the border town Sigueri on smooth roads in record time, waited, had tea & coffee w milk(sweetened cond) some bagettes and suddenly just as we were getting into the taxi to go up pulls a cop yelling, Who took my picture?...Give me your passports!! Etc etc...Turns out Mari had been taking a street shot just as this police officer was coming on his motorcycle. He was VERY upset, Mari was defensive claiming it was just of the birds and trees, Bonnie did a lot of pleading all the while telling Mari to delete it and show him it was gone...finally she deleted it, Bonnie saying to the cop she didn't mean anything , etc etc...long story short he finally returned our passports after Mari proved the pic was gone!
Taxi took us a block and we were turned over to another taxi, smaller with 2 different women in the front seat...much less room with 4 of us in seat for 3...off we go. Luckily the roads were smooth and we made good time to the border where we got out and sat for a while waiting on the police to ck our passports and stamp them out! Lady in front got impatient and convinced our driver to dump all our bags in the road...luckily Jake got there in time to keep him from driving away. Loaded up, Bon & I had some words for the lady in front(of course, she had some for us as well...but since no one understood the other, none the wiser, ha!) Jake thought we were a bit childish and overreacted, maybe! But as it turned out we only drove another 1 km to the Mali border where we walked to the ck point and got our passports stamped again, this time the driver had disappeared and since we thought we had paid for transport all the way to Bamako we were a bit pissed and thinking it was the woman's revenge!!!
As it turned out the Guinea taxi could not cross the border and we only had paid to the frontier! We had just enuf currency to afford the minibus to town and who should be on it as well but the woman who gave us grief as well! So we were relieved that she was not the reason and it was our poor French understanding! Again!
The bus went about one km and broke down, way overloaded...another came up(even smaller than the 1st) after driver made a call, and we all proceeded to climb aboard plus they transferred all the baggage from on top...24 passengers in bus meant for 15 + 2 jump seats in rear(Bon & I sat there!). Smooth road...this bus leaked oil, little puddles each time we stopped...and 2 hours later we got to the rough section described in LP, 50 km under construction, gravel & dust. Bon, who suffers from claustrophobia, tried to get them to let her leave back door open a crack, to no avail...there were no open windows and we were cramped like sardines! Bumpy ride, not fun, another taxi to Mission Catholique
where we found the price quoted in the LP to be correct for first time in a long time!!! They had room for us in the dorms(guys & gals separate), lots of other like travelers, but most in vehicles of their own other than a retired Dutch couple who traveled like us!
Walking in the streets to internet etc...lots of kids with hands out, there were 4 or 5 that just wouldn't let us go so I just turned and shook the hand of one who smiled broadly then the next, and next, and before I knew it they had all shaken my hand and laughing & smiling took off back in the direction we'd come from, ha...miracles do happen
A little further on a single boy asked for money as well, I tried the same tactic...did not have any affect, he hung with us for blocks. Finally, while we ignored him I noticed out of the corner of my eye a large Mali woman speak to him sharply, take ahold of his collar, turn him around, and he was gone...another kind of miracle, ha
Another great relief, we found the ATM at BMC bank and we could get $$ since we were totally out of CFA the currency in most W. Africa countries we are traveling in(other than Guinea).