Wednesday, 27 February 2008

24th Feb 08

Date: 24th Feb 08
Location: Bafoulabe, Mali
Weather: hazy sunshine, bloomin hot at about 44°c
Status: Ben – all good, Luke – fed up with African roads and progress, Colonel – all greased up and ready to go (apart from a broken suspension!)

Up early and treated the Colonel to a good greasing session to keep everything underneath running smoothly after a couple of really dry and dusty days bouncing around to get here, the suspension bush which has sheared is a cause for concern but there’s nothing that can be done until we get to Bamako so will just have to take it easy and keep and eye on it.

Made slow progress for the first hour of the day along the usual twisting dry and dusty tracks until we suddenly arrived at the Balofe river, which flows into the Senegal river which we were at a week ago. An absolute pleasure to see some flowing water after the last couple of days on the road, so once we’d found a suitable spot we both jumped in (after checking with the locals it was ok first!) and washed the dirt, grime and heat from our bodies.

Made our way up the river to the delightful town of Bafoulabe which runs for a few kms along the river, it’s a lovely place after the dry roads with fields of vegetables, tree lined streets and happy faces everywhere saying hello as we drove through the narrow main street.

The ferry across the river departs a couple of kms to the north so we made our way to it to find it on the opposite bank empty. As we were the only vehicle there they tried to charge us CFA10,000 but with my diplomacy and Luke’s ranting they dropped it to CFA6000…which the guide book quotes, ha Africans!

A nightmare of a road followed for the next 50kms as it tracked another river to the east on what we thought should be the main road to Kita. Now we’d heard it was good tarmac but the one we were on was made up of the finest cement dust which got everywhere! Think we may have taken a wrong turn but we decided to hack it and after driving for 4hrs decided to set up camp at the edge of the road for the night.

One part of the road for the day followed an old railway line which ran from the capital to the coast many moons ago but has now been removed leaving a raised road with no tracks, and annoyingly no bridges to cross the riverbeds, so every km or so you have to drop off the side off the road, cross the rocky bed and then head back up onto it…really not the way to look after a screwed suspension, but nothing else to do!

Dinner on the fire of rice and sweetcorn in a sweet chilli sauce….oooo the pleasures of Waitrose and the goodies from Mum, thank you! Bed early for the assault on the next town for money, visas and cold beer!

End of day location: halfway between Bafoulabe and Kita, Mali
Distance covered: 100kms

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