Quiet and safe camping in the west of Mali
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May 2014, English

May 2014, English

May is probably the hottest month in Mali, and hot it was. Even at night its hot, no cooling down. Until around three in the morning that is, then it cools a little but not spectacular. So tend to sleep outdoors but wake up in the morning with a pillow wet and soggy.

The heat drains your energy. I am to tired most of the day to do anything. So I take advantage of the mornings by getting up even earlier. After 11 am my energy is spend. A swim in the river brings some relief but only for 10 minutes or so. Not a real pleasant month, temperature wise.

So what useful did I do this month? To be honest, very little. Put some bamboo mats on my metal roof to try and keep my house cooler. That resulted in a few degrees less heat, making staying inside a little more agreeable.

Spent a long time trying to get the electric sorted out. Had bought a freezer in Bamako. Not to sit in it (although its tempting) but to not have to drive into the next village every day to buy bread and meet.
The freezer used one ampere of current, should be able to manage that with my current solar panels. But I had misjudged. My panels work on 12 volt, And 1 ampere at 220 volt is like 18 ampere at 12 volt. Oops. So had to buy some additional panels and batteries. Also all the panels where different and gave of different voltages, so had to do a lot of trial and error to get things working. And for now it does, as long as there is some most of the day. A day of clouds is still a problem, luckily we do not have to many of these.

Had another encounter with a snake. My dog would not stop barking so I went to have a look. A big fat lazy snake. Moved it up towards a unused piece of land with a long bamboo stick. Wasn’t to easy since the thing must have weight 4 kilo.

The chickens have been bothering me the last few weeks. I had small chicks and three of them turned out to be roosters. 4 roosters in one hen house is asking for trouble. The original papa rooster would not allow his own kids to stay in the hen house so the new roosters ended up sleeping in a mango tree, taking one of the chickens with them. The rest stayed in the hen house at night. This I would close up and they would be silent until I opened the door in the morning. But the new roosters where up at 4 o’ clock in the morning, making a racket and waking me up to early every morning. I tried to catch the renegade roosters but they are way to quick. pretty soon I shall catch them though and cut of there flying feathers. That way they cannot enter the tree at night.

The first rain came on may the 18th. For days it had be threatening. Dark clouds came racing my way, Accompanied by heavy winds it looked like lots of water, but each time it blew over. On the 18th it rained properly. Heavy thundershowers with heavenly cool winds. The ground soaked up the rain in a juffy, but I slept wonderfully cool that night.

On a sunday for young man came to visit. The locals do that some time, they come to sit under a mango tree and enjoy the calm environment, sometimes even swim in the river. When, about 10 minutes later, I left to get some tools from my garden shed I found the four picking mango fruit, each a bucket in the hand. I told them I considered this stealing and asked them to leave. They were very disappointed. So was I.

Boly was enjoying his cup of coffee in the evening when he asked me if I heard this specific bird. Of course I do, I said, how can I not. For that kind of noise volume people in Holland would call the police. Well, Boly said, this bird is calling the rains, that is why he is making so much noise. Ahh, I said, I understand. That is one way of interpreting the racket.

Another week later 2 young man come to visit me. We are from association so-and-so and we want to give a party. We would like to do this on your terrain. 60 to 80 people will come and we will cook the food and provide the music.
Ok, I said, good plan. So we discussed the date and the price for using the land. It was short day, since the party was to be the next saturday. That saturday I asked some people to help me, to guard the mango’s and tell people where to park and so on, But at 10 a.m. still nobody had showed up. At 11 a.m. I told the guys to go home. In the evening the two organisers came again. They had heard that I had thought the party was that day. But they said it was to be on the 23th of June. I know my French is not perfect but I am sure they had said next saturday. Anyway, if you are around the 23th of June, youre invited.

Had some clients in May. The long expected Peter en Els made it to Mali. I had had contact with them since from before they had left Holland and they carried an outdoor motor for my african canoe.
Of course we ate together, exchanged information and lots of blabla.
After some days Joris and Angelique joined us. Joris, in his huge KAT1, their dog was a nice playmate for Brox. With five Dutchman on the campsite it was a lot of drinking coffee here and there. Together we visited the local market and Peter and Els went to see the hippo’s down the river. And of course we did some tours with the new motor on the river, the locals staring at us like we was Jesus running on top of the water.

Did a day trip to Kayes. The new road from here to Maina was almost ready so gambled a little. It was between 250 and 300 k one way. Left at seven in the morning. But the new road was only half way finished. And then there was the ferry at Bafalube. Their engine had broken and 6 man with long bamboo poles where pushing the ferry up and down the river. That took some time and arrived midday in Kayes. My business there was quickly done and had to drive the long and hot way back. Returned around 18:30.

Had collected some spectacles from family and friends in Holland (thanks Cees and Addie). On returning from Holland last month had not really communicated this but when last week I told Boly I had some glasses for those with eyesight problems the message spread quickly. I had already given the strongest pair to the village-chief. with -8 in front of his eyes he told me he could see much better.
Also finally helped the little boy who I had promised glasses in January. Then I did not have the right ones for him and he almost cried. So made him and lots of other people happy with better sight. Most needed glasses for far-sighted problems. I also carried reading glasses but still have lots of these left. I guess if you cannot read or write and have no books or other materials to read, the need for reading glasses is minimal.

I am not to happy with my dog Brox. He runs away constantly and sometimes I have the feeling he is only around during dinner time. And even then often not, leaving me with his prepared rice. Had him castrated in the beginning of the year in the hope , but there is no difference. he spends days in the village down the road, playing with other dogs. And am slowly developing the notion that if that is what he wants, let him be. I could go and find a new pup. Tying him up all day long is not an option for me, and being here only to eat is to African for me.
At the moment I have a shape-up or ship-out feeling.

The situation i the north of Mali is not really promising. We had all hoped that the new President, IBK, could diffuse the tension and come up with a workable solution but it seems that nothing is being dome. Except for a lot of talk about the fact that they should be talking, there is no movement and the rebels are getting restless. Last week this resulted in some skirmishes, a town hall was being taken over, hostages taken. The Malian army run away with tail between their legs. In the meantime, specially in Bamako, the French are blamed for this lack of action and their have been protests and skirmishes in Bamako as well. This way no good can come.

So thats about all for the month of May. Next month I a surely going to try to watch the world cup games, of course specially the Dutch team. Have a feeling that if they can beat Spain in the first match, the dutch can go a long way. probably only to stop when losing against Brasil in the final. But if their first game is lost or one of these dull 0-0 chess matches, , there will be dark clouds on the horizon.

so untill next month, greatest greeting from beautiful (but hot) Mali

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