Sunday, November 11, 2012

Malian Memories

Hi folks. A little reminiscing today if that's okay with you. Around this time of year, five years ago now I made it to Mali where I had a fantastic time in an amazing place.
I visited the Dogon Country and the mosque at Djenne. But I was recently sent a couple of articles from the Melbourne newspaper 'The Age'. It seems just five years after I left Mali is now a haven for Al-Quaeda and its affiliates!
Dogon Country
What can I say about something like that? I met some good people there and had the time of my life. I slept under the stars on rooftops and took a boat at the confluence of the Bani and Niger rivers. Two Irish gals I met traveled with me and my mate Paul until Mopti where they went up river to Timbuctou and we went downstream (lol - by BUS) to Segou and Bamako. Today, Timbuctou is off limits! It is no longer controlled by the Malian government and is a stronghold for the Al-Quaeda affiliate AQIM.
There is a strong chance this region may soon be a new front of the 'War on Terror'. From the sounds of the article, dated October 22nd 2012, the lives of those in Timbuctou and beyond are dire at the moment, in a land that experiences frequent drought and lack of food and water. Kidnappings are rife in this area of foreigners, over 50 million Euros has been collected in ransom over the last few years.

Bani river, Mopti
 I've been to places that people worried about. My parents asked me to strike Russia off my itinerary the first time I went solo-traveling the night I was leaving, despite the time money and effort put into getting a visa! I was told I was a lunatic for heading to Kazakhstan by a friend last year, half the countries I go to raise eyebrows.
Djenne, in the distance the mosque
However. I always check the situation before I go. I would not head to Mali today. I would not head to Pakistan today. There are so many places out there worth visiting, why go somewhere when things aren't right in the country? They'll improve. For all I know, even the south of Mali might be perfectly safe.
Challenge yourself when you travel, but don't be fill-hardy.

Having said all that .... I only say I wouldn't go there having already been there!

More on Mali in my book -
Chapter on Mali:

Across Africa:

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