madnomad.com dispatches aperture poste restante etcetera

Hurry up and wait!
By Evelyn - 21 Jul, 1999

Page 2 of 2

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The sun was soon setting and there still remained cargo needing to be loaded. We had been waiting since 9:30 that morning. And we were not the only ones to get upset; apparently this was the first time for others to ride (or wait) with B.E.C. and they claimed other companies were not as bad. Finally, they began calling names and allowing passengers to board. This exercise took 45 minutes and as more people piled on, it was clear that they had over-sold seats on the bus. Not only were people sitting on the foldout aisle seats, but they were also inserting an extra body, starting with our row. We'd overpaid for half a seat? We were adamant in refusing but could do little to prevent a young man, equally helpless, from being squished in next to us. We yelled at the bus attendant demanding our money back; he yelled back at us to get off the bus. We considered it for a moment but figured tomorrow or the next day would be no different.

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He then proceeded with the next row, but the women in front of us would have none of it. One in particular began to speak up. She had a loud bellowing voice with a body to match. She tongue-lashed, laying into the bus attendant mercilessly, and no one was to stop her. The entire busload of disgruntled passengers watched as she picked him apart, occasionally causing an up roar of laughter with her cutting insults. The only thing I could catch was in French, "tete de mouton" (sheep-head), the rest of the tirade was in Bambara. The bus attendant had nothing to say in his defense and fuming, turned his back to the audience in embarrassment. It was incredibly satisfying to watch this woman put down this sham of a company.

It was 7pm when we finally pulled out of the station. We were already exhausted and were still in Bamako. The episode waiting for the bus to leave would be as tiring as the journey, well, almost. We sat six in a five-person row, directly beneath the broken ventilation porthole on the ceiling of the bus. It had been left open and the midnight rain dripped onto Gregg. We shivered our way into the night after countless stops for police checks, prayer, mechanical problems, and rest stops. 13 hours later we rolled into Sevare, a neighboring town outside Mopti. Though it was not our destination, we decided we had had enough of our "rapid, secure, and comfortable" ride and stumbled off.

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Back in Bamako, we were told by another traveler to look for a place called "Mack's Refuge" in Sevare. John "Mack", as he is locally known, is an American, born and raised in a village in the Dogon country to missionary parents. He recently opened a modest lodge where travelers could sample a bit of home cooking and books in English from his library. Just what we needed; we went off in search for Mack's Refuge. Locals had heard of him, one even knew him from childhood, but none had any idea where he lived or that he had opened a hotel. We abandoned our search after two tiring hours traipsing around town with our packs. It seemed pointless chasing our tails for something that didnít seem to exist. Instead we compromised with a room at the Bani Hotel, where we lay our heads down and slept for 14 hours.



 



 

 
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Hurry up and wait!
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