Farewell Mali – Memories on the Road (Overloaded)

Something that I had anticipated for a long time now has finally been concluded.  I shall probably never again return to Mali; the country where I have worked in, on and off, between June 2006 and April 2011.  Until this week, there was always the marginal possibility of returning for another field season.  However, recent events in the country – conspiring with the general attitude of the management of the company we work for – have lead us to resign.

Big News, hey?!

It was quite an irony that on the day of the Mali Coup (22nd March) – my husband was out of town attending an interview for another job.  He got it – and soon we shall be moving home.  I shall reveal all in a future post, but for now – all I will say is that I am excited about this move to a city that few geologists would ever get the chance to call “home”.  For anyone who knows the exclamation “like-hey-shoo-wow!” – that should be a giveaway!

It’s prompted me to go through the archives.  I noticed that there were quite a few scenes that I hadn’t yet shared with you on this blog.  Not the best quality photos, to be sure; many of them were snapped whilst moving – grabbing the opportunity as it presented itself.  This is raw.  This is pretty much as you see it in Africa!

This post focuses on “Memories on the Road”.

When we drove to our field camps from Bamako, it never took less than 4hours.  For much of the duration we were in Mali there were road-works that prolonged the journey.  Occasionally there were a few curious sights along the way that made it a little more interesting – mostly cases of well-packed and thoroughly overloaded vehicles.  Otherwise it was a long, hot, dusty and boring trip.

Old Peugeots were clearly favourites for the wood stacking.

I cannot look at this next photograph without thinking of Fergie singing “My Hump, My Hump, My Hump – check it out”

Number 14 is a passenger riding pillion on a scooter – with a full-grown ram on his lap.  Not altogether an unusual sight…

A hind quarter of cow in transit (with head neatly tucked in behind driver) was also not entirely unexpected…

There are always breakdowns; no red triangles around here, though.  You just have to keep your eyes peeled for cut branches leading up to whatever stricken vehicle has succumbed to road-stress.

For all previous posts on Mali – click here

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17 thoughts on “Farewell Mali – Memories on the Road (Overloaded)

    1. Hi Bama – those poor old Peugeots were always breaking down! I think the reason they were preferred over other trucks, was the relative ease they could be fixed. However, it would be a Health & Safety Officer’s worst nightmare (should they exist) – when the truck broke down, it would get fixed with its load still on the back!

  1. How beautifully they stack their trucks!
    Thanks, I have Fergie in my head now! 🙂
    And to be able to ride on the back of a motorbike with a ram on your lap. Wow. Impressive skills for the passenger just to hold onto it assuming it is alive and more so for the man steering. Such a different way of life.

    1. Hi throve – it is a work of art to be sure – but I guess they wouldn’t be able to pile so much on if it wasn’t packed so nicely! – And yup, I do believe the ram was still very much alive!!

      1. I have to admit that although I have heard plenty of Malian music on the radio etc – I don’t really know which of the musicians I have been listening to. Much of the local music is super soothing to my ears – I really enjoy it.

  2. Lu, I never asked you where you live and where you are from. I feel like I should know this! I think it would be so cool to go to some of the off the beaten path places that you have been to.

    1. Hi Nicole – I’m from Scotland, my husband is South African so “home” is either, or both. When not working in weird places we split our time between Edinburgh and Pretoria.
      I think the same about some of the places you have visited 🙂

      1. Hi Nicole – not quite moving back to Scotland. That was the plan this time last year! I’ve given up planning – am now just going with the flow 🙂
        I’ll be posting about my new home town soon-ish…

  3. What a sight those Peugeots are with all those logs stacked so high! Amazing. Well, I have done an internet search on that phrase you used to hint at your new destination, so I have an idea where you’re off to but I’ll wait until you announce it officially 🙂

    1. Meanderer – I must apologise sincerely. For some bizarre reason I have not seen your comments to reply to them – you must have thought I was being incredibly rude! As for the destination, I am sure you are right… but until we make the move, it’ll all stay under wraps!

  4. Although overloaded dilapidated trucks are a common sight in India I have to say I have not seen anything here, so beautifully stacked! Africa is dream high on our list.

    1. Hi Madhu – It really is quite amazing how nicely these trucks are packed! I don’t think anything else in Africa is quite so nicely organised, though 😉

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