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Timbuktu or Bust!

The time has come to strap on my backpack, and head into unknown territory. After being in Bamako for two weeks, it is time for my first official trek. Now, what could be more perfect than a trip to Timbuktu? Kevin, Abeja and I set off on this journey only a day ago, but it seems we've been gone for a lifetime. We left knowing that it would take at least five days to get to Timbuktu, but little did we expect the challenge that was waiting for us. This was the plan: From Bamako we would take an eight hour bus ride to a boat in Mopti which would then get us to Timbuktu in two days. OK, sounds easy enough. Yeah, right!

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"We're going to Timbuktu!"
"We're going to Timbuktu!"
It may not be a luxury liner but...
It may not be a luxury liner but...
So, we arrived an hour early for our bus, thinking we were planning ahead. But, we were sorely mistaken. There were only two seats left--and there were three of us. So, we jumped into a taxi hoping to catch other buses headed in the same direction. How wrong we were! After quite some time and a lot of brainstorming and luck, we finally made it to the boat dock where the big boat would take us to Timbuktu. What is the big boat, you ask? Well, I wouldn't know since it was already fully booked by the time we got there! And the next one wasn't until NEXT week.

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Another beautiful Malian sunset
Another beautiful Malian sunset
Whatever shall we do? Well, the logical next step is the large canoe! Of course! I mean, why didn't I think of that? OK, this will really be a new thing for me. I was definitely not using the large canoe as my mode of transport back in LA. You know what they say, "There is a first time for everything!" So, off we went in search of a "Pinasse," which is Malian for large canoe.

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Sleeping on the roof is OK except for the mosquitoes
Sleeping on the roof is OK except for the mosquitoes
We made friends with a group of Italian and Basque travelers and together we found a bargain deal on one of the "Pinasse's" our new pal, and found out that we would head out in the morning! Yeah!

As night came, we found ourselves without a home for the night. Luckily, Mamadou came to the rescue. He found us shelter for the night. (Well, if you call sleeping on the roof of a mudhouse a shelter!) But, hey, no complaints from me. It could be worse.

Will we make it to Timbuktu? Tune in next week.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at


Abeja - Contrast of Worlds: My Most Difficult Stage of the Odyssey Journey

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