Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Friday, March 30, 2007

(Sunday in Bamako)
As mentioned in the previous post (which is now complete with photos!), our time in Bamako was spent avoiding the heat and using the couple days to catch up on personal business such as e-mail, banking, booking tickets, etc.
I took the first chance I could to get a well-needed haircut and shave in Bamako. I unfortunately had to wake up our new friend (Joseph from Ghana) from his snooze under a mango tree, but he was pleased to speak English with the two new toubabs in town.
It wasn't until later in the evening on our first day in Bamako that Rachel subliminally reminded me it was Sunday...Sunday in Bamako. Those remotely interested in West African music will immediately recognize the significance of arriving to Bamako on a Sunday, as one of the most famous songs to be exported from Mali in recent years is titled Dimanche a Bamako. Performed by Amadou & Miriam (often referred to as "the blind couple from Mali)" and produced by international sensation Manu Chao, the album Dimanche a Bamako has been frequently played on our iPod stereo system ever since we entered Africa a few months ago.
As we listened to the album, and had a bit of a bop in our Bamako hotel room, I came to realize it was once again time to report on recent "Listenings & Readings". Reports from the iPod (commonly known on Donkey Crossing as NJiPE, or "Neal and Jen's iPod Experience"...named in honor of our friends who gifted us the fully loaded iPod) haven't appeared much recently, but the tunes have certainly continued, and I never regret lugging around the little extra weight that is our portable iPod speaker system.
Since entering West Africa we've appropriately found ourselves listening to a fair share of, well, African music. Artists such as Fela Kuti, Babatunde Olatunji, Femi Kuti and Amadou & Miriam have been top picks, while Anglophones such as Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, String Cheese Incident, Dave Matthews Band and Jerry Lee Lewis have all found themselves randomly selected in shuffle mode.
A recent long haul bus ride from Bamako to Mopti introduced us to a variety of Malian musicians we had previously never heard. Since we were sitting directly behind the driver and his apprentice, we were able to observe the ancient cassette tapes come in and out of the player throughout the ride. New artists to our ears such as Dayele, Samaya Djeli and Almamy Bah are a few that stuck out.
Ever since our French and Arabic studies concluded in Morocco back in January, I've been able to concentrate a bit more on leisure reading. Traveling through West Africa doesn't provide much in regard to English language book exchanges, however there's usually at least one tolerable title in which to swap a finished book for a new one. Recent completed books have included:
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Quarantine by Jim Crace
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Going Solo by Roald Dahl
The Knack of Life by Trisha Rainsford
All of the above titles come highly recommended, except for The Knack of Life, which is a tolerable read if it's the only English title in a West African book exchange.
I'm currently out of reading material and anxiously await finding a selection of English titles ASAP. It may prove a bit difficult as we just arrived to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso yesterday and the only English I've read so far was in the right-hand column of the menu at the Chinese restaurant we ate at for lunch.
Dimanche a Bandiagara
Our "Sunday in Bamako" was certainly a great one, but not nearly as special as last Sunday in Bandiagara. Bandiagara is one of the gateway towns to Dogon Country, which you'll read about in the next few days, but that isn't what made last Sunday so important. Last Sunday, March 25th, was Rachel's 32nd birthday!
We had a great time in a very nice hotel situated remotely in the middle of the barren African plain. We had a private stone hut and the grounds were equipped with a swimming pool and a miniature golf course! We were sure it was the only mini-golf in all of West Africa and it provided us with many hours of sweltering putt-putt.
The birthday girl poses between shots.Here I am lining one up on the final hole.
The self-timer has been used in a variety of environments, why not a miniature golf course in the middle of nowhere!?
We hope you have enjoyed our latest reports from West Africa! We had been without an internet connection for over a week, but we look forward to updating everyone on our slow boat up the Niger River, our three day trek through Dogon Country and our final African border crossing into Burkina Faso.
Take Care!


Blogger Jonathan & Kari said...

It's great to read of your travels and encounters w/ the beautiful people and cultures of West Africa.
I lived in St Louis for over a year in the village just north of Hotel Diamarek. Imagine my surprise and joy in seeing a picture of Batch (I never before wrote his name)!
I'm listening to Beaux Dimanches as I write this comment.
Safe travels and bon courage!

10:16 AM  

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