Six Things I Appreciate About Life In West Africa (Mali)

There are so many amazing things about  living in Africa and Mali in particular.

1. Local Food Within Walking Distance.

We run out of eggs, and all we have to do is walk down our stairs and within 50 feet are cubical stores and we can buy a tray of 24 eggs right there. We have to wash the poop off them… but hey, they are fresh and nearby.  But be careful around new years or the end of Ramadan. . Stock up because eggs will be sold out for weeks, and the few that arrive will be an elevated price for weeks.  Daily Fresh Local grown Fruits and Veggies, any time you venture into the market. We do not need to drive 5-10 minutes to a store like we do in Canada.

2. Fresh baked baguettes every morning, in every town and most villages.

But get there early. I head out around six AM, as by seven there will not be any bread left. The locals only bake what they can sell. Why waste money with left over bread that will only go stale?

3. Sitting on the side of the street on a bench with a bunch of men chatting, and watching the people go buy. Anyone will give you a seat and chat, if you know them or not.

4. Helpful People:

(Excluding official offices) If a small local shop does not have what you are looking for, they will often send someone to find it for you.  At Yacouba’s little Electronic cubical at the bottom of our stairs I will arrive looking for batteries, a fan, a USB Memory stick, etc. If he does not have what I need, he tells me to come back in 15 minutes.  I will come back, or more often than not, Yacouba arrives at my door with several options, various brands and qualities for me to choose from. And, if I chose not to buy any of the options,  it’s not any problem at all.

5. Bartering & Trading.

We bought a small TV to watch videos, and found out that there was no way to branch the computer to the TV for showing training videos. We kept it for three months and got some limited use out of the TV, However, we went to the cubical three stalls to the left of our front stairs, and we bartered an exchange for the old TV for a new one that would serve our work purposes. I only lost $40 on the original price of the small TV I traded in, and had what we needed.

6. Cheap Eats.

A rice and sauce meal at local watering spots for one $1. Or a steak, fish and fries for $4-5. There is very little variety in Sikasso, but it is reasonably priced. Or pay double or triple by going to one of the Hotels, with no apparent improvement in quality.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. chaseharpole says:

    So many of these are the things I now miss about Morocco. I think many of these appreciations shed light on the generally more communal lifestyle these cultures have, a lifestyle that visitors, myself and my friends among them, grow to deeply love. I know that the group I traveled with are now feeling the loss of this embedded since of community as we try to reintegrate ourselves back into America. Maybe I will go try to barter at the flea market for old times sake.


    1. That longing for the richness of West Africa, once it gets hold of you,never goes away.


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