Friday, 27 May 2011

Mali & Mangoes

      I ni sogoma ( Good Morning!)   Like a bunch of girls on the school playground, loud screams rang out as the sound of my bike downshifting to a stop could be heard. I passed the group of girls about 50 yards or so away and found find my water before resting in the shade. Their day is spent trying to sell  baskets of fresh-picked mangoes to anyone they can manage to stop. It's a tough way to make a dollar in Mali where tons of unwanted mangoes rot under trees.
       I ate two, while we decided on a fair price and laughed over an exchange of words that neither of us could understand. The mothers and older women stayed at a comfortable distance, but they knew my stop would mean some money for the group. In the end I found the grandmother of the group, about three times the average age and asked her to be the banker, knowing I would cause serious inflation for the next guy to stop, if I didn't.
        My cheat sheet of Arabic words ended at Mauriania's border. I added to my list of new Bambara words while travelling through Mali. The friendliness of Mali made learning one of Africa's many languages a little easier. Unfortunately, before the next tank of gas is used up, I could be in an area where a different language is spoken.

Mauritania , somewhere around Ayoun
Bargaining for mangoes....


Friday, 13 May 2011

Life on the Bike

Another Wreck In The Desert

At the Port for the Day

Bringing in the Boats for the Night

Don't Grab the Diesel

Lawn Bowling? Don't know the name of this game.

Open Road
Just so you know....

Stuck in the Sand


The World is too big to travel the same road twice.
After a long ride from Rabit, Morocco to Madrid, Spain, my passport ,with $200 Euros stuffed inside, was rubber-stamped by Mauritanian officials. I had a transit visa valid for eight days in a country 3000k away.
It was enough to get me into the country, and with the help of a local in Nouakchott,  an afternoon at the police station, lots of official police "taxes" paid, I had a 30 day extension.

There was a total of 59 (!!) "police" stops to check documents. That started off easy, but as I traveled to Eastern Mauritania it got tougher. There is really nothing in the Western Sahara, or Mauritania for tourists to want to extend their stay. I had two nights of needed rest at Hotel Al Jazira with the "police academy" next door before moving on, seeing the guide-book recommended sights as I went. If the roads are good, the dead camels, cows, and wrecked cars are every where. If the roads are bad, it's like a game of chess between rider and road to survive.

Kiffa to Ayoun (about 120 miles), took six hours. This included getting stuck in the sand, putting diesel gas in the bike, and several detours. This left me with mild sun stroke. I took salt, lots of water, & used my bottled water to at least wet my head. That helped. Now I know to wear the outer shell of my riding gear when temps are at 110, as my body is not able to cool itself from the prolonged heat.

If a village does not have running water, a " bucket shower" can be refreshing, even with the water at 40c. Paying 30 euro at the only place in town to sleep sucks when they don't have power, or even a bucket of water. (I should have stayed under the stars again.)

I have now moved south from Arab Africa, to Black Africa and am in Mali! It's Friday night, music and beer are easy to find in Mali, so it's time to have a real shower again, and kick back along the Niger River in Bamako.

Today is the first day I've met anyone  from North America in about six weeks. A Peace Corp volunteer was returning to visit a village where she had been located. It's always a welcome relief to hear a voice from home and not have to translate.

The Bike stuff:
Regarding mapping before leaving, for the fuel in Africa was money well spent.
60 + MPG or 250 miles on a 17 liter tank.
New tires in Spain have 30% left after about 4000 miles.
Front fork seal leaks and needs to be fixed.
Took the Washington license plate off . (Ride safe !)
I may travel to Togo for tires, service, fork seals, and the beach !