On and on we waited, more and more became the confusion, up and up went the temperatures.
The Rough Guide suggests: At the height of the dry season, Kankan is so unbearably hot that you may decide to
abandon visiting the region altogether. The reference to heat, I can confirm !
First, this was our car .. excitement and queues forming for tickets .. then it wasn't. Then it went away and another one arrived ..
tickets were issued (FrG 33,000 each) and baggage started being assembled for loading. Great .. 3pm had been and gone and we were really fed up by now,
sadly contemplating a repeat of our Mamou experience and another night amongst the students.
Our baggage was loaded into the car which, leaving us standing there, was turned around and driven 20 metres up the street where it was unloaded again for an enormous amount of bags to be carried out of a house
and piled high on its roof rack. Sprinting over to reclaim our bags, we at last received an accurate and real explanation that yesterday's car had had a small problem and had not travelled. These bags were already booked on board, with no room for us, or ours !!
Factfile 17: It is commonly quoted that 'patience is a virtue'. Without it, whilst travelling in West Africa, you are likely to be tearing your hair out, grinding your teeth down to stumps
and with the heat .. be in severe danger of a having a heart attack within the first few hours.
I, we, they have, or it has, a 'small problem' .. are the words one dreads to hear.
A 'small problem' can encompass many
It's the usual prequel to a bumpster asking for a handout of money, the vehicle you are travelling in is terminally ill, or thousands of dollars have mysteriously 'evaporated' from the accounts of some project or government department.
Just occasionally it really is a small problem .. easily fixed .. with sufficient time !
Eventually another car arrived .. this time definitely for us ........ but with one small problem:
too many passengers .. not enough car ! More confusion, more arguing .. if I could have spoken the
language or even managed to get a word in edgewise, I would have joined in. But such was the vehemence of others whose tempers were similarly frayed .. it would have had little effect.
Asking Alaghi for the occasional translation, we let them get on with it and awaited the outcome.
Evidently with the overbooking, choices were being offered to us to go in another car by a different route. This sounded
OK to me until Alaghi whispered that the village we would arrive at was right in the centre of nowhere and it would probably take at least 3 or 4 days to get an onward connection. So we politely but firmly declined .. as, I
thought, did all the others. However, with one of those strange and sudden African reversals in fortune .. from a total impossibility to a viable solution being worked out .. quite unexpectedly it was done and finished.
With our bags loaded once more .. the taxi promptly drove off around the corner and out of sight. Going for petrol, we assumed, funny he didn't take us with him ! Half an hour later .. and not a little anxious .. we eventually
found out that the driver needed to get his travel papers signed by the local authority .. obviously costing money and not worth doing before his trip was actually going to take place. On his return we all piled in, settled
down and finally departed.
Only then did we notice for the first time something we had missed, due to the constant dusty pandemonium of the area; not only was the engine blowing clouds of blue smoke from its exhaust, but
these choking carbon monoxide fumes were swirling straight back into the interior !
With little choice but to accept it, or spend another night and day going through the same time-wasting procedure, we stayed in our seats. But I can truthfully say that I have never ever been on such an
excruciatingly unhealthy and uncomfortable journey in my life ..
and this was just the start of our problems over the long hours to come on the road to Bamako !