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Our Tale begins as many do with the dawning of a new day. Mr Cam opened his eyes and found himself in a very messy hotel room. As his eyes began to focus he felt the merriment of the previous night give him a leaving present in the form of a headache. To the bed next to him was Aidan still asleep; on the floor was Michael also still in the land of nod. He pulled himself up and attempted to clean himself up before he stumbled out into the day to get some breakfast. He had been attending a conference and it had been a long week with not much sleep, today was Saturday and check out day.
After breakfast he was feeling much better but would have liked to grab a nap, but this was not to be. The morning was spent saying goodbye to everyone as the hotel emptied and the guests dispersed to the corners of Ghana. Today was a big day for Mr Cam though as it was the start of his next adventure. He had caught up with his traveling companions at breakfast and the details of their departure were sorted out. Pien was going into town and would meet CJ and Cam at the bus station at 16:00. The rest of the morning passed uneventfully, and the group soon found themselves in the STC Kumasi bus station waiting for their bus. The bus was three hours late arriving, “Africa Time” the group joked while boarding the bus and then they were off heading north to the Burkina Faso boarder.
The journey passed, and they slept the best they could while the bus lurched forward into the night. Dawn was breaking when they stepped off the bus in Bolgatanga about 45mins from the boarder. They took the chance to get some breakfast while the bus was checked. Soon after the bus was ready, and they reached with Boarder. They left Ghana with no trouble, the Burkina entry was another story as Pien needed a visa which they didn’t have forms for and took far longer then it needed to. But if there is one thing that Mr Cam and his party had learned in Africa is that you can’t rush things and they the three of them soon found themselves walking to rejoin the bus in Burkina Faso and heading to the Capital Ouagadougou.
They were only spending a night in Burkina as their destination lay in the country to the north Mali. Mr Cam had been to Ouagadougou before but had not enjoyed his stay, so he was no looking forward to returning. But after an afternoon walking around and a very nice meal (four cheese pizza) the city had grown on him and he had enjoyed himself.
Around the time Mr Cam and his companions were seriously planning this journey there had been some issues in Mali with banditry and kidnappings. Infact last year they had received a warning about venturing to Timbuktu do to security issues. They had planned to head north out of Ouagadougou to Mali and almost changed their minds after meeting a French girl on the bus from Ghana who had said it was dangerous. All the facts were weighed (they had a colleague who had just driven this route and back a week previously) and the decision was made to stick to their route, mostly due to the fact the bus along the other route was full the next day.
So, the next day they did just that and boarded a bus heading north to Ouahigouya, this was a good road and a good bus, and they found themselves arriving early. A van was located that was heading to the next village, Koro which was just across the Malian boarded. There was enough time to make some breakfast out of the French bread; bread in Ghana never hit the spot so this was a real treat. The car soon left, and the travelers found themselves on a very dusty road heading out into nothingness. The landscape passed by with hills giving way to flat planes. Camels started to dot the road side feeding or being ridden. The boarder cross consisted of a few buildings with nothing else around, and the entry and exit were no bother to companions even though they had obtained Malian visa.
Soon after this Mr Cam stepped out into Koro the Malian border town, the time here passed like the previous change of vehicle, and they were once again on the move heading this time for Mopti the large city that would become their base for the rest of the trip. The flat planes were scarred suddenly by a large escarpment rising with shear cliffs and stretching off into the distance. This was the mysterious land of the Dogon which held rumours of people who could fly unique rock formations and villages high upon the cliffs. Mr Cam and is companions watched as this land of intrigue passed them by, knowing that they would be returning to probe into its mysteries.
The van reached Mopti well after sundown with the three weary dirty travelers within. They quickly obtain transport to their hotel with a welcoming name, Hotel Ya Pas de Problem. After being out of the tourist seen for such a long time the companions were a bit put back by their welcoming party of guides all bidding for their custom. After a long day of traveling the last thing they wanted was to deal with this, so they sought sanctuary in the hotel and relaxed on the roof top with dinner and a drink. It was here that they would come meet a man would play a major role in the trip, Hamidou Guindo was his name, another guide but he knew that people just arriving did not want to be pestered and, so he played it cool and allowed the travelers to seek him out. He was to become their guide not only through Mopti but also in other trips through Mali.