The closest I’ve been to Bamako in Mali is a truckstop town called San, about 200 miles to the east. I was travelling to Bobo-Dioulasso after a trip on the Niger River from Gao to Mopti just a couple of months more than twenty-six years ago.
My first attempt to visit Mali, three years earlier, had been interrupted by a war, stranding me in a Burkina Faso border town. I made it through the next year, going up to Timbuktu by truck, the river being too low that season.
The parts of Mali I saw were fascinating, inhabited by people of a wondrous range of beliefs and backgrounds. From the Dogon hills to the great mud mosque of Djenne to the rooftops of Mopti to the great well of Timbuktu, I have never seen anyplace with more grandeur than that rather modest country.
Rarely, when I lived in Africa, did I stay…
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