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Farewell to Mali: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Mali, West Africa
KEVIN: It seems like everything I said about Mali was bad! I complained about the mosquitoes, the flies, the food, the heat - which made me faint - and the rain, too. It rains every single day.

ABEJA: But the rain was such a relief from the heat! It was so hot today I didn't even want to leave the room. When it finally rained I almost ran out and jumped for joy in the mud puddles, but I don't have any other clean clothes! Besides, the rain brings green to the desert, like the green on the Baobab trees. And it's not all bad, Kevin: we've met some really nice people.

JASMINE: My favorite was Barry, who met me at the airport and helped me find a taxi and a place to stay, and even introduced me to his family. They made me a delicious home-cooked meal, Mali-style. I don't know what I would have done without him. I was so grateful, I let him borrow my safari hat when he gave me a tour of Bamako.

MONICA: But Barry kept your hat, Jasmine! He was wearing it when I saw him with his friends one day when you were away in Timbuktu. I very politely asked him to give it back, but he said no, that you owed him money! I told him we had paid him back for everything but he still wouldn't give it to me! We argued and argued until a crowd formed around us in the middle of the street and a police officer came over. The police officer calmed us down and Barry and I agreed to settle it later that night, but he never showed up. I was so upset about it that Kavitha and I left for Djenne the next day without the hat. But on the bus we met Fanta, a very nice Dogon girl who let us sleep in her garage and showed us around Mopti for free.

KAVITHA: She was really nice, Monica - until you left, that is! I took her out to thank her for all she did for us, but after that she expected me to pay for her everywhere we went! Even after I moved out of her garage she found me in a restaurant and ordered the most expensive thing on the menu! Then there was that really, really hot day in Bamako when I was feeling weak from the sweltering heat. When I went out to look for bottled water, I noticed sewage flowing down the street from the earlier rains. And the marketplace was really crowded. Men kept grabbing my arms, making me so angry that I said to myself, "The next man that grabs my arm is getting slapped!" But the next person that grabbed my arm was a sweet, smiling little boy who handed me a bag of hibiscus juice, and asked, "Have you tried our local drink?" He didn't even ask for money. He was only a small boy, but he taught me that no matter what your situation, it's how you think about it that matters.


Abeja - You think you've got problems? Try getting across the Sahara Desert sometime!

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