We've been defeated by the heat and have opted to hire a car and driver for a few days. The 24 hour journey from Senegal to Bamako was a great experience and we are definitely glad we did it but I think having a car (with AC!) will make the next few days much easier. Tadhg was quite dehydrated this morning but perked up quite quickly, only to then be taken out in the heat again to catch a bus east to Segu. At the bus station just before we went looking for a bus I decided that I'd rather chill out in a hotel for another day till Tadhg was 100% again and I think Steve was pretty relieved! So we're in the hotel with the best pool, have been talking to a few expats, have eaten lots and watched a couple of movies and have managed to arrange a 4WD car with driver that fits all of us and is reasonably priced.
So a little bit about Bamako. The good stuff first. It is a small city with not too much traffic, lots of greenery, the Niger river flowing by, good fruit for sale and very few tall buildings. I liked it as soon as we drove in. The flip side is that it is one of the dirtiest cities in the world. Rubbish and rats everywhere. It's a public health nightmare. It really is food for thought and we've been talking a lot about it. It doesn't have to be this way, does it? So many problems and so few solutions. So far though, I have really liked the Malian people and having two young children with us is definitely a help. People either laugh hysterically or want to talk to us or at the very least they smile and stare with interest. We're looking forward to getting out of the city where things will likely be much better.
In teh city so far we have walked around a lot, been to the market, the National Museum, a high point overlooking the city at sunset, the Niger river, swimming in a hotel pool... We stayed a couple of nights in the Catholic Mission and had a six bed dorm to ourselves, did all our laundry, ate yummy street food, met soma interesting travellers. One girl has just come to Bamako fro, Scotland on a motorcycle with a friend and has got Steve and I all fired up and planning our own motorcycle trip (a few years away once the kids are old enough to stay with family for a few weeks) but there's no harm in dreaming :)
Tadhg was more or less back to his normal cheerful self this evening so we're heading off to rural Mali in the morning. More later.
I've just tried to get some photos on but this computer isn't cooperating. Next time.