On the ride back from Timbuktu, I was once again in the boot of the 4 by 4. At least this time, there was the cutest little Tuareg boy, Khalil, on his way to Bamako. He insisted on sharing his cookies with me and when we reached Dounza, we said our good-byes. I got on another bus going to Sevarre. A bit later, I saw little Khalil who took another bus to get there as well en route to Bamako. He gave me a bottle of pineapple soda and insisted I take it. “S’il te plait” he said in the cutest way ever. How could I refuse? I took a sip and tried giving it back. He insisted I take the whole thing and showed me he too had a bottle. Awww. My heart melted. Someone that was riding with us from Timbuktu to Sevarre said to me in French that Khalil has fallen in love with you and I said no, I have fallen in love with him.
Between parts 3 and 4 of the ride back to Djenne from Timbuktu, I was waiting on a bench under a straw roof. I decided to start unbraiding my hair since it was so dirty and I knew de-braiding was no easy feat. A little girl just came up and started helping me, exchanging only a few words. Then she told me she had to wash dishes and she’d be back. She came back with a little “truc” (since everything in Mali seems to be called that) and continued unbraiding. She told me she was from Gao but only here with her dad because of school holiday. After some time, my ride to Djenne was ready to go, so I thanked her and was on my way. In Djenne I was sitting outside and attempting to finish the unbraiding process when six little girls came up and just started helping. It’s this community feel and moments like these that made my trip so enjoyable.
In Bamako, I stayed at the Auberge Sleeping Camel, recommended by the American I met in Djenne. I stayed in the dorm and was waiting for the bathroom. A guy walked out, we greeted each other, and immediately knew we both looked really familiar to each other. I told him he looked really familiar and he told me he recognized my face. I asked if he was from Senegal. It turns out he was my neighbor in Senegal 5 years ago and dated my housemate Claudine. And here we are 5 years later in Bamako at the same hostel. We reminisced about Senegal and our mutual friends. He called my host family in Senegal and I spoke to Marieme, who is now married. (who isn’t married?) He apparently opened up a restaurant in Dakar, but is in Bamako for business. He works in the gold and diamond business. Sounded a little sketchy, but what a chance encounter.
My life is always more spontaneous when I’m abroad. My last day in Mali, which was a Sunday, while wandering through the streets of Bamako, I happened upon 4 French tourists and their Ivoirian friend living in Mali. They were attempting to hail a cab. Finally, they were getting in and Vanessa, who is half Cameroonian, said they were going to a wedding. “Le Dimanche a Bamako, c’est le jour de marriage” (Just like the song!), meaning Sunday in Bamako is the day for weddings. She invited me along. Who’s wedding? Where? When? Questions aside, they were leaving and I joined them. Turned out to be so much fun, with lots of food, music, colorful outfits, excited guests and hosts, and of course dancing. Afterwards, as I was leaving, the Ivoirian took my number and later that night invited me to Soul train, an Ivoirian club with lots of good music. If it wasn’t my last night in Bamako, I probably wouldn’t have gone and if I wasn’t in Bamako, I most definitely wouldn’t have gone, but voila: that was my last day in Mali!