Stories about welcome. We have done nothing here yet because we are locked into the process of “ARRIVING”, just showing up, and people have given and given of themselves when we have little to offer in return right now. It is humbling.
A lady named Shari, a life long resident of Mali made our arrival in Bamako the least stressful ever. Shari is a Canadian citizen we got to know over the last few years. When our flight arrived five and a half hours late at 1:30 am, due to an in flight mechanical error that turned us back to Paris, she was there with a huge smile. She opened her home, her life, and her refrigerator, a tall order for a guy with my appetite, especially when the power was off a lot today. (Only expats understand the great resistance to open a fridge when the power is off for a yet undetermined period if time.).
Her last kindness was delivering us to the bus station at six am, as we continued our journey home.
As a thank you, my wife and I took Shari out for a late night dinner after teaching her English class.
When we exited the restaurant we noticed a small bread bakery window open across the street. There in Bamako i bought my first French Baguettes, and I really did literally leap into the air as i crossed back across the street with the loot in hand, to the great joy of all the Malians watching and giggling up and down the street. My wife and Shari just laughed at me from across the congested road. Shari was quite impressed with my piment consumption at our evening meal.
A Malian friend took care of some urgent financial business for me, wirelessly sent phone credit to my cell phone so I could begin making calls, and booked our bus tickets two days before our arrival in Bamako.
Sure i reimbursed him for the cash out of hand but he did a lot of running, in a congested African city (you understand this, right?) putting out much of his time so we could continue on to the next leg of our journey quickly.
I gave him some new sport sandals from Canada that he asked for eighteen months ago. I sheepishly won on this barter.
Enroute to our region in Mali we got word that our lodging water was not working. Difficult to stay in a place without water to clean, scrub, drink, or shower….. and we oh so needed a shower. I almost forgot how dirty one can get here.
However, Lori saved us. She met us at the bus and drove us and our bags home. We dumped things in the place and I immediately got to business. But not before Lori provided us with needed cold drinks and a fine dinner….. by afternoon my wife was just all done in, with a massive headache. So Lori took her back to her place where i joined them late evening for supper and we stayed the night. Lori was here today to help Lynn get the place and office opened up and we are getting nicely settled in
My Malian a connections really came through. We arrived in town at noon, but by 7 pm i was able to get my smartphone hooked up, pay for our internet hookup at the Orange office. An Orange Tec actually come twice in one afternoon, when a problem resurfaced later. Got my motorcycle fixed with new battery, insurance paid, and my shiny new plate installed. I now have the real registration card, the fake one is no more (you read about that here). The licence plate that took five freaking years to come.
An acquaintance of mine, also living in a predominantly Muslim region, not 150km from me as the crow flies in a neighbouring country, wrote this today.
“You need to know that this is deeply personal. I live among Muslims who have taken me in, fed me, given up their bed for me, cared for me when I wrecked my motorcycle, and have patiently listened to me massacre their language until I could communicate and be a friend.”
(K. H. Working in a West African Country)
Well stated K.H. Thank you for the reminder. It’s true a thousand times over. I experienced it today as well…
It is good to be back.