English translation day 45 -

Day 45-48

From Bobo it was only 50 km into Banfora, so I had time enough to explore the surroundings near Banfora that as promised by the guidebook, were very pretty. First stop was  the waterfalls of Kariguella.
With the help of  the fantastic GPS maps OpenMapSource I could easily take the smaller pistes, and enjoy the green scenery where I first saw  agriculture on a large industrial scale.
When I arrived at the falls I was the only tourist there and I was able to walk up without a guide and  with some amateur mountaineering I found my own route to the top, wonderful.
From there it went to the more traditional villages around Tengrela, where a boat trip to see the Hippo's was included in the entrance fee . After half an hour of peddling in a cannoe we saw the first hippopotamus sticking his head above water, and later we came up close to about 5 hippos grazing in the shallow waters.
A camera with zoom would have been nice
Because there was a baby hippo in the group we could not come closer. Luckily I had my own paddle along to participate in an emergency paddle if needed because these animals can be dangerous.
After another very nice ride towards Banfora, I got to a bridge that was blocked by some people and they asked for money to remove the branches. Although  it clearly  was a setup to extract money, I didn't fancy going all the way round, so I haggled a good price and  was I Banfora on time to check in at one of the most charming hotels of Burkina, La Canne au Sucre. Here they make their own rum, which had a bad effect on my head and the bill the next day.
On  the last  day in Burkina, 100 km of pistes brought me to the 'Pics of Sindou' and in the direction of the border with Mali. Sindou was  a bit disappointing, if you didn't pay attention, you would drive by the rock formations, without noticing them.
The crossing of the border was done in an African record time of 45 minutes and 2 days later I returned to Auberge Djamilla in Bamako, where I and Boni met the two other Belgians one month ago.

Boni is now in the hospital of Lome, Togo,with  malaria , hopefully he heals quickly.

(EDIT: Boni contracted the most severe form of malaria and had to be repatriated to Belgium, he's better now, but the bike is still in Lome)

In two days  I'll be heading to the border with Mauritania, leaving the african culture and driving into maghreb territory.

Dag 49-53

To get out of the very busy capital in one piece I decided to leave very early, which was a good plan and gave me this view over the Niger river.

Although I got the full map of Bamako on streetlevel in the GPS, it's quite hard work, and a couple af times I drive into one way streets, just to stay on track, luckily most cops are still sleeping.
The last days I notice the temperature is lower and it takes a couple of hours before the sun warms up the place.

My goal for today is Diéma, a crosroad village on the way to Mauritania. After an internet search I came to ´village ventures´, a development-project started by an English lady, named Pam. Because there was  no other  accomodation in Diema, I was welcomed and got a little strawtop hut appointed to me.

This friendly lady showed me all her projects, she had build all of the huts herself, had some youth education going on and she just finished the well. She also helps out neighbouring schools and hospitals, very impressive. The remainder of the day I saw all sorts of people coming by, from the mayor of the city, to local herders and craftsmen.

From her I learned a lot about the local culture and customs and I was very thankful of the experience (www.villageventures.info).
The next morning it was of to the border with Mauri, and quite a culture clash.

Via Nioro du Sahel (a bandit town, from which once westerners were adbucted) I came to the border, where the douane told me they had no stamp and they couldn't help me, back to Nioro it was. After this 120 km detour I finaly got to Mauritania. 3 checkpoints and 10 km later , they asked for my insurance.

I knew I wasn't insured, becaue my ´carte brune´ was not valid here, but I tried to play dumb. The officer would have none of it, and from their modus operandi I could clearly see they meant business. They stopped every car and had the people unload all of the luggage, clearly looking for some bribary. I convinced him I would drive back to the border to get the insurance, but when I came back 2 hours later, he still demanded a fine, I finally gave him a cold coke and the smallest bill I could find, before they had the idea of searching my luggage and finding the illegal alcohol I was smuggeling into this strickt muslim country.  5 checkpoints later I arrived before dark in Ayoun El Atrous but the difference in culture was a bit of a shock. The hotel room was just a 4 walls  with a bed and the restaurant they recommended was a carpet on the ground and 2 cooking pots in the street.

I could choose between rice and couscous and they also showed me a bucket of bones with some fly infested meat. Although I asked for just some rice, I also got some of the tasty meat. Mauritania didn't really impress me, especially when they tried to sell me some overpriced fuel in botttles, which had water in it, the next morning. Because of this bad intro into the maghreb culture I decided to drive straight to  Nouakchott with only 1 stop in Aleg. But I have to admit, that the landscapes are really stunning with the rock formations and the sand, that invades the road.

What also gets my attention, is that all the cars are old and of the same brand and type (merc) ,and that the sides of the road are littered with the wrecks of those merc's and a lot of dead animals, mostly cows.

Cow eating plastic garbage

From Aleg to Nouakchott I pass some great sanddunes, that give the impression you are driving on a sea of sand and with exact 0,0 ougiuya in my pocket I arrive in the capital.

Here I get to know a new kind of driving that is some of the worst so far, they just drive with 4 cars on 2 lanes and push you of the road.

At a traffic light I almost get run over by a truck, speeding through red, and by giving it full throttle I arrive safely at auberge Sahara, a true oasis for the ´overlander´. Here I meet up with the Italians, which I got to know at  Pam in Mali .The clean rooms and wifi make for a nice stopover on the way to the Western Sahara, Inch ´Allah.