Bright and early .. well early, if not that bright .. emerging from my room, I noticed Lulu, sitting on top of the compound wall, surveying the scene outside. Having made her acquaintance during the previous
evening, I gave her a reassuring pat on the head and wished her a very good morning .. which was almost my undoing. Either very grumpy first thing in the morning or disliking being disturbed whilst on guard duty .. she snarled
and nearly bit my fingers off ! Later, whilst chatting to the other guests awaiting the call to breakfast, she suddenly appeared, laid her head in my lap and offered to shake hands, we were friends again.
Lulu ? Mac's sometimes friendly guard dog !
We ate an enormous breakfast of pancakes, muesli, yoghurt, mango and banana salad and various jams .. all Mac-made and delicious. Amadou's brother arrived half an hour earlier than scheduled and turned out to be a slight, po-faced individual with an altogether depressing attitude to life in general. Totally opposite to how Amadou had been on the previous day, who was unfortunately too busy to take us himself .. going on a mission to Bamako .. on the bus !
Factfile 24: 'Brother' and 'sister' are terms with many different meanings in West African society. "He is my brother" or "She is my sister," can mean the other person: shares the same
father and mother, the same father with a different mother, the same mother with a different father; is a cousin, a friend from the same tribe / village / area or country .. or merely a person of the same race or skin
colour. If it is important to know .. and sometimes it is .. posing the question of "Same mother, same father ?" is the best way to find out and to show some understanding of African ways. A husband having up to four
wives and many children with each, is quite common and with other relatives duty-bound to take over responsibility for any orphaned children of their own brothers and sisters .. it can often get very confusing as to just
who is related to who .. and how .. in their large extended families !
The deal we had arranged with Amadou was conditional on the driver being a good guide, the car being comfortable and .. above all .. reliable. We had spent some time negotiating his exorbitant first price of CFA 55,000 for the whole day, down to a less punitive one. But even so, we were suffering from being in Mali's main tourist area, with little choice of car hire.
Our driver, apart from appearing somewhat
sullen and morose, spoiled his chances right from the off .. demanding the full amount up front, supposedly just to cover petrol and local taxes !
A 260 km round trip wouldn't cost that much for fuel .. neither would the most avaricious of officials demand all the remainder .. so we agreed, after some terse words .. on a lesser amount
and for the balance to be paid at the end of the day. Not a good start !
Fuelled-up, we left Sévaré on the road leading back towards Bamako .. passing through the checkpoint on the outskirts of town without incident and enjoying the roadside views
which we had missed in the darkness, on our journey of arrival. Flat areas of dry fields that would be planted with millet during the rainy season and the occasional rocky outcrop .. lined our route.
About 100 km from Sévaré we were stopped at a police roadblock. Alaghi and I had our papers checked and were asked for CFA 1000 each. This time it was an official tourist tax request from the Urbane Commune of Djenné, for help towards the maintenance of Djenné's fragile buildings, which .. with the issuing of an official receipt .. we were happy to pay.