Bamako, Mali

  • Date
  • 1 April 2000

We’re in Mali – Bamako to be exact. This country is dirt poor – even the capital is dismal, depressing, smog-filled and filled with many mud and cement homes. Most villages we’ve passed through in the last four days do not have electricity and wells supply the only water, which is often not safe since people wash and live out of the water in the neighboring rivers that feed the wells. During our hot drives, I longed for a cold drink so many times, but refrigerators do not exist in the villages. The temperature is so hot (above 100 degrees at 6 p.m. in the evening in Kayes) that cold showers, the only option, feel like liquid comfort. In the evenings, candles light the towns.

Children play along the dirt roads all day long and school seems to occupy little time. Females average only four years of education in Mali. Most women marry by 16 and are grandmothers well before 40. Mali has the first or second highest infant mortality rate in the world and one in seven women die during childbirth or improper abortions. The statistics shock.

Roads – if you dare call them roads – in Mali are the worst we have seen thus far. Without the seat belt, I hit the roof of our car, but with the belt my body is bruised from the brutal bumps.

Still, Africa may be the most engaging part of the journey thus far.