Mali Travel Stories, Page 2

The Beverly Hillbillies Effect

The Beverly Hillbillies Effect
Bamako, Mali, West Africa
Monday, September 24, 2007

There is an intriguing phenomenon to observe on the planet, the best way I can explain is by calling it,
- The Beverly Hillbillies Effect -

When a person with who comes from a primitive background suddenly lives in a more developed world because of new found money, and become pompous yet still behaves as they was raised.

The Beverly Hillbillies was a television show in the USA about a family of Hillbillies from up in the hills somewhere who hit gold, black gold. The found oil on their land and became incredibly rich and because of this great wealth their friend told them to move to California, and go live in Beverly Hills, California, the place to go when New York is a Mercedes, and you want a Lamborghini.

The world is developing and changing at an every increasing speed, while the base lifestyle does not. You can take the man out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the man.

I was having an ugly feeling laugh and a cringe this morning, there is a man in the Hotel, he is in the Air Conditioned room next to mine. He has a radio blaring away at 3:00 AM in the morning in French, I suppose he does not understand French and must hear it at high volumes to separate the words, or he is enamored by the sounds. Well, after a few obnoxious hours, he gets up, the door close, I hear him clear his throat and spit, I am positive I am putting on my sandals to walk to the shower.

Later, I decided to go and get a dipper of water to make some instant coffee, the radio has stopped, it is quiet, I am happy. I go take a peak out the front balcony to see what the day is bringing, it is now about 5:00 AM and everyone is out swearing allegiance. I see the man over by the bushes and I start to chuckle, I try not to be obvious, but here is a tall man in a leisure suit, typical here, quite nice actually, a grey, not the normal I pajama colors.

He is brushing his teeth over by the bushes!

Ok, this is happens, the normal person of West Africa is diligent about brushing their teeth. The normal way it to walk outside, hand around a bush or the gutter and spit the toothpaste in the bush. The Hotels in this area of the world often do not have sinks, mirrors, or any method to wash your hands, or brush your teeth. They have caught on to the idea that a shower is nice, but the idea of brushing your teeth inside the hotel room is still sort of a mystery. I love when a girl from the hills takes a shower under what we would call a normal shower; they become thrilled by the idea of running water.

Ok, this man just is clueless, he cannot hide behind that leisure suit, and he cannot pretend to be something. We have a very nice set of sinks, complete with mirrors and half the faucets work; these are less than 10 feet from his room.

The difficult part for me about The Beverly Hillbillies Effect is not his lack of understanding of the modern world. I do not see any reason why he needs to speak French, I do not care that he brushes his teeth over a bush; I do not like that he spits on the floor in front of my feet. The problem is the arrogance that comes with new money, when you give a Hillbillies new found wealth; they do not become loveable like the show the The Beverly Hillbillies, the opposite, a person with money believes they are someone special, and they demand you say they are special. I try my best to talk about football and escape. A normal person from the hills, living in the hills, accepting reality is ten time the aristocrat of a person who wants to be something they are not, you cannot remove the basic culture and lifestyle of a person and the last thing in life I want to listen to is a person pretending to be something they are not, it is like watching a lie in action.

I came from Indiana, I am a Hoosier, this is not sophisticated and that is ok today.

The Beverly Hillbillies Effect


Losing Respect for West Africa

Losing Respect for West Africa
Bamako, Mali, West Africa
Monday, September 24, 2007

Respect is needed, self-respect, respect for others, it is not a want, it is a need, otherwise a person needs to spend 95 percent of their time checking and double checking because you do not trust the other person.

There are times when I meet people that are real jerks, however, they have special abilities, maybe they make one of the most beautiful guitars you ever seen. I respect the person differently, not about trust, but about merit, but I do respect them.

Made in Africa
Made in China
Made in USA
Made in Hong Kong

I search for pivotal ways of thinking, the one variable or question that demands I make a decision, the one perspective that just is incontrovertible.

The other day it occurred to me, a good test to know how developed a nation is, would be to know how many cell phone numbers are issued per 100,000 people. The problem here is there is no census, therefore all statistics are at best just guides and countries lie. Nevertheless, the number of cell phone numbers being used would alleviate the multiple economic streams of individuals. In addition, the governments could not hide because normally a government official owns the cell phone company and is making a windfall now.

Respect because of special skills and creative ability, the question I use is does the average person in the world see a label?
- Made in Africa -

People in West Africa beg continually for any white person or me to help them go to Europe or the USA. One person I know had an extremely persistent person, normally they are tremendously lazy, therefore, and this problem ends in minutes, as they want me to carry them, so the situation ends. However, one man went the extra step, I said,
- Do you want this person in the USA? -

It is similar to the European Union and Turkey, I just recently changed my opinion and now think, they should not become part of the European Union, they would not work together with the Union, the would pervert the Union. It would be like the USA joining with Mexico, however not a problem Canada.

Respect,
I see no skills, I see no
- Made in Africa -
Labels or stamps in the USA.

I cannot think of one person in West Africa, who I can say,
- Yes, I will help them go to the USA; they would make a good citizen.-

I went to the American Embassy in the Philippines, or Thailand and got a good laugh,
- We are importing prostitutes. -

Men fall in love with prostitutes, marry them, and bring them to the USA. I only have about 50 percent problem with that, as I know the Philippine girls can be great workers, and you have to admire their spunk and drive, they talked a sap into marrying them.

Kita, Mali to Kayes, Mali, then to Dakar, Senegal Train.

I woke yesterday with the full intention of getting on the 12:30 train from Kita to Kayes, Mali. Then while typing away, journalizing, as some people would conceptualize.
- I do not want to go. -

There is ego, I said this, I said that, and I am 100 percent sure nobody cares whether I go to Dakar or to Thailand, or to Portugal or anywhere, I know in the end, travel needs to be outlandishly selfish or you will find yourself on some train to oblivion because you told someone you was going to do it.

I avoid Europe, why, because to enjoy Europe, I need to spend about 200 US per day, own a car, and drive around. Being that I can have just as much fun and even more for 15 dollars per day in Thailand or Peru, why spend money I do not have, as German a friend of mine from Colombia said, when you are old go to Europe.

I do not have to make the best of a bad decision… hehehe

I can just leave and quit a country or more correctly cultures.

I have now traveled west from Togo, Ghana, to Burkina Faso, to Mali and every day I study the Encarta Encyclopedia, I have read every chapter in the Roughguides.com West Africa guidebook, trying to convince myself to go farther. I know the religions, the way they earn money, the cost Hotel, I have read the guidebooks long enough I can feel the personalities of the writers in their words. I keep laughing, one use the word
- Outside is Hideous -
Then about the train, the writer said,
- Rife - with theft.

This is too much, and especially about the crime thing, if there is one redeeming quality about West Africa is it takes work to be robbed, they just do not steal; you just have to be stupid. I am not saying they are honest, they just are not petty criminals, they are not purse-snatchers for the most part, and they do not stick their hands in my backpack.

I know the Caribbean, and if I go back, it will be either to a resort, or on a sailboat.
I know Paris, I am not going to Paris unless I have 500 US per day I do not mine flushing in the toilet.

I know Europe; I will travel around in Europe when I find a way to buy car insurance and plates for a van or motor home.

I have spent about one year of my life now in West Africa, and I finally have to give up, the guidebooks are not written for backpackers using public transportation, a.k.a. the Bus.

If I go North, I go to Morocco a place like Venezuela, not on the list to return in this life, but in the way, hard to avoid.

All I can figure out about going to Dakar is there is probably some Euro-Trash there or some drink-a-pint for breakfast Brits, the sections in my guidebook is about twice as big when it comes to how to drink bear or eat Western Food, and the Hotels sections are written for tourist, not backpackers. I suppose I am curious to go The Gambia to see if there really are European women there to buy men.

Ok, Africa is a breeze, safe, easy, the road are great, to travel by public transportation is a pain, and to find acceptable Hotel is too much work to be fun, I need a car or motorcycle.

Therefore, I give up, I accept the guidebook, and I will avoid the African people and take the cream off the top when I return. I will buy a nice Air Conditioned Van and enter from Morocco. I will make sure I am traveling with a Five Star Hotel travel mentality, and stop thinking it is possible to backpack West Africa.

Alternatively, I can wait just about 5-10 years and the idiots that rule will decide to buy better Buses. The roads are almost perfect, flat, easy, and nice, but Africa needs AC buses, the people are abusive, they will pack as many people as possible for money in a car or bus.

Another test of a country is,
- How many emails do you have of the locals? -

Another and simpler test of how good is a country for tourism is,
- How many tourists do you see? -

I can count on one hand the number of tourist in West Africa I have met, I meet many cannot-save-themselves Volunteers, dysfunctional reveling in the power of giving like the movie Schindler’s List when the guy talks the Nazi in to pardoning people is power. Eventually the Nazi did not get it, and either do the Volunteers, NGO etc. I am a recovering alcoholic and 100 percent sure, you cannot help a person that does not want to help themselves, and highly dysfunctional to try to help a person just too lazy to move.

I am doing some crazy things presently; I am carrying now 10 English books, and Three Cans of Vegetable. I realized my hands were tingling because the 40 Kilos of backpack weight is starting to cause nerve damage. I need to the books to avoid Africa, and I need the canned vegetables because the food sucks. I wanted to buy a box of Grape Juice in Bobo, Burkina Faso and they wanted three US dollars and I was going to buy, then I realized I did not trust that it was fresh, I need to spend two week there until I found the one store that is ok.

I did not eat yesterday, this is off my rockers crazy, as the Brits say,
- I could not be bothered. -

It just takes too much work to find food that is acceptable, plus in either Burkina Faso or Mali they started to smoke cigarettes and spit. Mali people spit continuously and I have yet to see them take a shower, I watch. Togo, Benin, Ghana people are always standing around with tons of bubbles on them, it is easy to find a shower, I think they have adapted this Morocco, Arab, I do not shower thing, and I think it will get worst if I go towards Dakar. I ride on buses, I do not have a 4-wheel drive, I smell them, I see them up close and personal, they culture has changed; they are pigs in Mali, compared to Togo or even Ghana, where they are clean. Now the teeth are stained with smoke, and they take huge logs and clean their teeth.

A person wrote me and said, Dakar just like Europe, that did not help, the last place I want to be is in Africa just like Europe, if I want to go to see Europe, I will go to Europe, and to be truthful, I do not like Europe, has to be the worst value for the travel dollars on the planet, they somehow want me to believe it is ok. The USA is half the price to live than Europe. I remember Sophi in Paris, 160,000 US for an apartment that in the USA all your friend would be saying to you, are you crazy, you sleep in the living room, and you dry your clothes by hanging them all over the furniture, and you drive around for one hour per day looking for a place to park you car, get a life, give up.

I am not sure, but I think the Brits pay a lot for beer, I keep thinking that Africa is probably heaven for their alcoholic propensity. Like the book, Are You Experienced, and everyone is talking in India on why people come or travel in India and finally a man screams,
- The Dope is Cheap. -

I would think to stay drunk and slowly drink yourself into a stupor is at least half the price in Africa and even less.

Every country normally has this subject, this topic that travelers talk about, and finally I get curious and want to go see for myself, and I have readers write and say, go see this, I do not meet any travelers to tell me of any places to see, and I cannot find any reason to continue. I do think the Forts of Ghana are great, and interesting to here them pervert and make up history.

Why come to Africa?

Therefore, I can say I was here. This truthfully is the worst reason on the planet to travel, like bragging to an audience that does not care, and will continually start to talk about AIDS. I have not see one sign ever of AIDS in Africa, I just see another country, like any other country, nothing is decimated, this place is place is just a welfare child and working to be on becoming third generation welfare family.

When I am tying away and I cannot think of anything good to say, then time so find a different culture, to say country is only going to cause you a traveler problem, I need to find a substantial change in cultures.

The big problem in the world for travel is winter; it truly limits the number of countries to visit enjoyable as a backpacker.

I have the sum of a few wants to be happy,
- Internet -
- Food -
YES IN CHRISTIAN AREAS - Nice women to share dinner with. -
- Good Books to read. -
- Something of interest to Photograph -
- A good value Hotel room. -
- People that laugh and are nice -
- Some clear and obvious tourist attraction. -
YES - Safe -
- I do not want to complain. -
- Conversation with interesting people. -

The two easy to agree with is that in Christian Africa there are girls to talk with, and Africa is for the most part very safe. Safe is SOP for most countries, however hard to be robbed here.

The other things on the list are tiresome and difficult to find, a continually scramble to find, and generally I fail. Acceptance of this is crazy, when I know I can change it.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

One taxing on the spirit problem with travel is we see many unpleasant things, and as I have learned in a very brutal ways, I get, and all people get in life exactly what they deserve, no more, no less. When a person in a bad situation reaches for help, there is always the hand reaching to help pull them into the boat. There will always be loser and winners and it is up to me, to decide my future. I am 100 percent responsible for my success and failure.

Losing Respect for West Africa


Bamako Mali

Bamako Mali
Monday, September 24, 2007

I am now in Bamako, Mali; I went to Kita, Mali by bus, realized the errors of my ways and took the bus back to Bamako the next day. It is not much fun to take travel for 8 hours one day, then 8 hours the next.

I will purchase a ticket to Asia and get the Hell out of Dodge.

Bamako Mali


Andy Has Three Options in West Africa

Andy Has Three Options in West Africa
Kita, Mali, West Africa
Sunday, September 23, 2007

Today is September 23, too early to go home for Christmas, and I would rather travel back to Ghana than to go Morocco. I have three options and they all suck, a true SNAFU. To think, I paid to do this… hehehe

I think the bottom line is counting countries, do I want to once in my life count countries, or do I want to obey the prime directive of travel. The prime directive of travel is to enjoy yourself. I think I have no choice but to count countries, travel back to Ghana, and fly to Singapore, Thailand of Philippines.

The three options.

1. Go to Dakar and fly to the USA.
2. Go to Dakar, get a Visa to Mauritania and travel by land to Europe.
NOPE, not in this lifetime, my worst option, like traveling into the worst of the worst.

3. Go to Dakar, get a visa to the Gambia, then go to Banjul, the Gambia, get Visa for Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and go by land.

Fourth option, go back to Bamako and fly to somewhere nice, that is the best option, it is a wonderful think to write in a journal, it makes decision making easier.

In the back of my mind, I know I should get an Air Conditioned car, drive down from Europe somehow with a friend, and just drive through Africa; it is what the guidebook wants me to do.

Andy Has Three Options in West Africa


The Challenges West Africa

The Challenges West Africa
Kita, Mali, West Africa
Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kiss me first, and we can call it love.

I am traveling West in West Africa, I am trying to sit back and enjoy it. It is hard to derive a conclusion. I think I have bought my own illusions of Africa hook, line and sinker.

I think my delusions went something like, I will go to Africa, see big Animals, see women walking around topless, and people living in tribal conditions. It would be strenuous travel, long arduous journeys from beautiful locations to beautiful location.

I was reading my guidebook on the bus yesterday, and realized, I am reading my guidebook on the bus. This was a new experience for me and a revelation in a way. I have tried to read guidebooks on buses for years, and after about two pages I become motion sick.

I was very lucky to travel to Abidjan, Cote d Ivoire on first true West African trip, then proceeded overland to Benin, and by the good Gods ironic guidance I spent some good tribal time in Natitingou, Benin. This was my first real taste of Africa and it made me want to come back and try to find it again.

I truly avoid reading guidebooks, I normally read them when I am bored, or I am in very expensive countries and looking for relief. I do not read about countries normally and plan ahead, because everyone is in love with the place they visited, write nice information because they visited it, and, well, it is like this, they spent a lot of money to travel there, so they must have like it, so they say they did, and they believe what they wrote, however they have nothing to compare it to, so they will continue to believe it was best.

I think Africa has not become insanely easy to travel, annoyingly boring, and West Africa is an expensive bruised banana in the market. I keep buying ten bananas and I need to throw nine out the window, and this is West Africa.

The challenges of West Africa?

1. French, the big one, the huge problem, and mainly a problem because until I spoke French well enough, I did not know, they do not speak French. Now that I speak good enough French, I can stop speaking with people who do not speak French and search for a person that speaks a little. Africa does not speak French, and Ghana does not speak English, however in Ghana it is easy, I know immediately they do not speak English and can go to the next person. I now know, they do not speak French in West Africa for crap, and can search for the one in ten that does.

Challenge is removed, I speak travel French.

Hmmm full stop.

Craig of Travelvice.com quote me, and created a continual reminder in my brain of what I should remember when I travel. He wrote in one of his post something like, and I do not remember correctly,

Andy said,
- I realized one day, 10 dollars is an expensive room on the planet, and I had been paying too much for a long time. -

This now is the annoyance of West Africa; everything is over-priced, about the worst travel value on the planet, maybe neck and neck with the Caribbean. To enjoy West Africa it has to be your first big backpacker trip, or you will be biting the bullet, eating bad bananas until you puke.

I am so bored I was reading the guidebook and thought, the section about how to get drunk and eating is bigger than the sections on hotels. I never read these sections as they just tell me how to avoid being in Africa and where to buy Pizza or as they say, Western food, or where there is cold beer. I feel to read these sections, and follow the guide would be to say, I give up, I will look at Africa from the window of an Air Conditioned four-wheel drive, if there is crap in the road, and we will just go around it.

I just thought of a solution to my headaches, I should just accept that I am not traveling from beautiful location to beautiful location. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow here.

I can be a tourist, not a traveler, there are no backpacker here in West Africa, they know better, they studied the guidebooks and read enough to know there are no backpacker in West Africa, I must accept that to backpack through Africa is a royal pain, a person should drive their Air Conditioned family car.

Tourist go to places like Africa, live in room with AC and room service, drink too much beer, pay for sex with the locals, give money to small children, tell themselves they are great people, inflate the price of room so much a local person can never afford to travel in their own country, then call it love.

If I say piss on Africa, I can raise my budget to the normal tourist level, read many books; I still have about 10 in my backpack. I should be able to travel faster because there is only the transportation pain to recover from, not too much room pain, although it would take 100 dollars per night to equal a Thailand room for 10 dollars, so I am going to just grin and bear it.

Damn it! I cannot travel as a tourist; I do not have a car. The guidebooks are written by people with their own transportation, the continually recommend Hotel or Motels that require cars.

The Challenges West Africa


What Happened to Bamako Mali Hostel

What Happened to Bamako Mali Hostel
Bamako, Mali, West Africa
Saturday, September 22, 2007

I am in this very modern, clean looking building, on the Niger River; it is called the Les Maison de Jeunes.

I thought the guidebook too harsh, however, the guidebook is to guide and this place is not good. I can understand why Paul Theroux uses the name Dark Star Safari for his bone book. Everywhere I go there feels to be a Dark Star hanging the city, as if something went wrong.

This Hostel at the price of 3000 per night for an air-conditioned dorm bed should be full, unless the other listings in the book are in never never land. That is also highly possible, as I think the guide writers are using travel standards that could be applied in Europe.

I am trapped in my room because if I leave the Rasta people and the aggressive men are everywhere, it is as if they imported people from the Ghettos of New York to live in this ultra modern area. I have a choice, stay trapped in my room, or find another city. Dakar is said to be worst than Bamako according to the Roughguide Guidebook.
It is SOP for me to enter a place in West Africa and everything is done wrong, they can take the best situations and muck them up. This facility is extremely ready to go, with some small changes, mosquito protection, remove the Rasta Rabble from in front, close the gate to have some security, and work must a little.

It is so tiresome to watch the staff sit in front of the Television brain-dead.

I am traveling against the grain for sure; I have no place to go, all my options are a Dark Star Safari. I will go today to Kita, a smaller village in Mali on the way to Dakar. No, yes, I just do not know what is good to do, this is not like Benin, Togo or Ghana where I could just go to small villages and find comfortably quiet spot to hang around a couple of days. It is hard to believe that West Africa could get more expensive than Togo, but it appears to be the case.

I feel like I am in the Caribbean again, no option is good, all the Hotels suck, you want to go rent a room in a resort because the locals are trailer trash with big mouth, and Rasta Rules. These Rasta want a smoke and do drugs, not work, be lazy and hit the drum guy are a waste of blood.

This just is not what I want to do, I do not want to rent a Motel room with AC so I can avoid Africa, I will just leave before I live in eat-Western-Food Pizza Head Hotels. I do not need to be here.

Morocco is about the same, or I would be going North presently,

I need a Visa to enter Guinea and I would need to stay four days in Bamako, with is tantamount to torture. The Gambia is my best option; however, as an American they want me to have a Visa. Dakar reads to be the European Asshole of Africa, this pay way too much and like it attitudes of Europeans, it is a Bourgeois thing to me, they have never had good values for anything and cannot related to life being priced at good values, then do not understand why an American complains when the Shampoo is four times the American price.

If I could get a Visa to The Gambia, I could enter these countries continue to travel east to Accra where I could fly to Singapore for about 800 US. Flying to Casablanca is to me like flying into a shitstorm, Paris would more torture, and to get to England and hang around the Barmy Badger Hotels in London seems as far away as Los Angeles.

What Happened to Bamako Mali Hostel


Gambling on Countries in West Africa

Gambling on Countries in West Africa
Sikasso, Mali, West Africa
Friday, September 21, 2007

I am approaching a strange cluster of countries that are not my list of countries to visit in this lifetime. The more I read, the more I study, the less I want to visit. Senegal is having a serious contender problem, nothing worst than mortgaging the house to raise the money to sleep in Hotel room of a country you despise.



I want to go to:
- Guinea
- Sierra Leone
- Liberia

These countries are in the way or obstacles:
- Senegal
- Mauritania
- The Gambia
(I am told this is sex tourist place for women of Europe, and a cheap way to fly to Germany.)

Cape Verde and Island country is out of the way.

Morocco is in the way, and I already have been to Morocco and now trying to figure out how to go through Morocco and not go to Morocco. Maybe like visiting a resort in Africa to look at Animals, call it Safar and say I was in Africa.

I have to make this gamble carefully, I know it is possible to enter these countries and wish to leave so badly I just leave, and never look back. By reading the guidebook, I feel Senegal is probably some child of Europe, which only a mother could love. It is one thing to enter a crap of a country and pay five dollars for a room; it is another thing to enter a crap of a country and pay 20 dollars for a room, when you pay 30 you have the taste of crap in your mouth for the rest of your life.
I feel like a self-appointed backpacker explorer, making myself a martyr in the search for backpacker ghettos, someone has to go and discover the truth, and admit, I paid a small fortune to live in crap. I am searching for the one credible reason for me to visit some of these countries. Contrary to any non-sense, I do not make money Blogging about countries nobody is interested in, I lose money. I am not a travel writer; I am not paid to lie for a living.

Gambling on Countries in West Africa


Africa Resort Hotels

Africa Resort Hotels
Sikasso, Mali, West Africa
Friday, September 21, 2007

I call a resort Hotel, a place you enter by taxi and you do not leave, maybe the Hotel California is better,
- You can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave. -

There are backpacker guidebook writers who do not own backpacks, they have luggage, stowed in the boot.

I took a taxi to the Tata Hotel that cost 9000 CFA here in Sikasso and fortunately, before the taxi left, I said, this place is the Hotel California. Take me to the Gare or Station and I will walk around until I find a proper Hotel.

Maybe a Pizza lover’s hotel, I forgot I was in Africa, whatever the case take care if you are on foot when reading the guidebooks.

I am now in the Hotel Solokhan for 4000 CFA, across from one of the Bittar Trans Bus stations to Bamako, however not in in the guidebook. Moreover, say, this is Africa all over it, no pizza and beer here. Quite a novel shower here, there is a stall for a shower and they bring you buckets, so you can dip shower in your room, however no running water. Normally there is a showerhead and plumbing that does not work; this one has no pipes to the room.

I think the Hotel chopped me and the regular price probably is less.

Africa Resort Hotels