home / Mailing List Update / 20 March 2005
20 March 2005

Debbie writes... We have been out of contact from the rest of the world for a while now - no TV, no internet, no telephone --- it has been quite refreshing. Travelling is such a privilege these days - it offers you the opportunity to meet wonderful people and experience new cultures and different scenery. I am only now beginning to realise just how sheltered my life has been and how little I know about Africa.

We are in Bamako (Mali) at the moment, getting all our paperwork done and applying for our Ghana visa. Mali is an incredible country - the people are so friendly and very kind. Coming from SA where I have been used to the aggressive SA blacks (sure you can identify), I have been constantly amazed at how incredibly kind and generous they are. A couple of days ago we met a fisherman who invited us back to his village for the night - he did not want us to bushcamp near the river. He offered us a bed to sleep on (open air under the stars), gave us fresh mangos, fed us local food (porridge and cous cous), served us mint tea and made sure that everyone in his village doted on us. It was very special and we all felt incredibly humble...

We are staying at a lovely place in Bamako for a few days - it is a 'soon-to-be' campsite/auberge run by a lovely family. He is Mali/French and his wife is French/Irish - they have two gorgeous daughters - 9yrs and 5yrs. They have been living here for 10 yrs and have decided to 'open' their house to travellers. There are so many French travellers in this part of the world, so they don't even have to advertise - all word of mouth. They have these wonderful huts on their property, which they rent out to travellers - as I type we are sitting in the one which has aircon - it is heaven! Their kitchen and dining/living area is open to guests so it is a very social environment - just like a farmhouse in SA. They are a really lovely couple! Living in Africa is so different to Europe - there are so many advantages of the carefree/open lifestyle that it has to offer. My mind is constantly buzzing about thoughts of this rich lifestyle vs the strains/stress of living in Europe. Which is the better?? I know what I would have answered a few months ago ... now I'm confused...

The African heat is SO intensive - March is only the start of the summer in West Africa and we are already experiencing temperatures of 46deg C - in the shade!! We are constantly drenched in sweat and, with the red dust from the roads, are permanently dirty. I have NEVER been so dirty in my life - even mountain-biking does not compare! The other day we were swamped by moisture bees - Luca and Sameena (our new Italian friends) got a tyre puncture, so while they were changing it the bees started arriving. Within seconds we were all covered in bees - they were stung a few times, but luckily Martin and I got away with no stings. Luca and Sameena are great and we are having lots of fun with them - we plan to travel with them to Cameroon and then see what next - they are also travelling to Cape Town. They are hoping to film a documentary in Cameroon. See the video clip Martin made of them for the website :-)

I can honestly say that I have seen a different side to Africa than the one I knew in SA. There are some really lovely people around and it is just so refreshing to experience sincere kindness. My views of Africa are certainly changing and I must say I am enjoying all the different new experiences that are coming my way.



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