Sunday, January 2, 2011
In the Middle of Timbuktu
We are currently in Bobo, Burkina Faso where we spent the New Years, celebrating, then spent new years day washing away a weeks worth of bush camping, off our bodies in one of the countries largest water falls.
The people of Mali were very nice people. Seemed to have a high level of happiness, although I was glad to leave the dirty overcrowded city of Bamako behind. The day after I was arrested in Bamako, another American was walking the street with some Chinese girls he met in town. A van pulled up to them, demanding to see their passports, which they didn't have. Trying to walkaway,because they weren't sure they were police officers, four guys, surrounded them, grabbed them, and threw them into the police van and drove them far from where they were staying. After holding them, they finally were made to pay a fine,even given a receipt,and allowed to go on their way.
But that's Africa. You can't expect things to be like home. What doesn't kill you only makes you tougher. And Africans are as tough as they come. You can't blame them for being hard.
Along a three day river trip up the Niger, I finally found out where the town of Timbuktu was located. It's a small place on the Niger River, in Northern Mali. It's fitting that Timbuktu, would be located in a western African country, because traveling through these countries you do get that overwhelming feeling that you're "in the middle of Timbuktu." Culture shock is the best way to describe your experiences. They make the markets of Marrakech in Morocco, seem like Boulder, Colorado.
Burkina Faso is the third poorest country in the world. Ranked almost dead last in the lowest quality of life. But this doesn't stop them from working their asses off. They don't have time to feel sorry for themselves,or for you to feel pity for them. For the people of Burkina Faso, tomorrow isn't guaranteed. The life expectency is 50 years old, 1 out of 4 chidren die before the age of 4,and over 50 percent of the population is under 17. If you could see how they live their life, you would never complain about how you have it back home ever again. The biggest challenge I have traveling through the country is trying to find internet.
Just driving the roads you get a sense of the everyday struggle. Every vehicle is loaded to the max. Three,four,five,even six people ride on a motorbike. You can't help but laugh at some of the set ups. Trucks are overloaded till you think they would just tip over. Smaller cars are no different. Goats,chicken, and even live cows are tied to the top. It a way that you just can't comprehend coming from a western culture. How they carry the things that they do, or even manage to ride a motorcyle holding a window is beyond me. But because of this lack of safety you see accidents such as trucks who lose their entire half end,cars whose wheels just snap off.
Today we saw the worst accident we have seen traveling along this trip and honestly, actually surprised we haven't seen more like it, the way people drive, ride, and walk through traffic in such dangerous ways. Safety isn't a priority, survival is. Dead Bodies and motorbikes were scattered in the road, from what looked like an accident involving a van. Back home the road would be blocked off and shut down, here they are just left on the road, till police move them, or family comes to retreive them.
But this is traveling through Africa. Nothing is like back home. The photos I have taken will bring some reality to what their lives are like. My point in shoot has taken a beating, almost as bad as an African donkey. So I'm surprised I can still take pics with it.
Internet is too slow to upload pics, will probably have to wait a few weeks before I can. We have another week in Burkina Faso so I can't imagine what else we will see driving the roads.
If you go to Victoria Falls in Africa you can swim in a pool above the falls called the Devil's swimming pool. This falls in Burkina Faso would have to be his hot tub.