It is now evening, on my last full day in Mali. Items are already
shipped off, luggage packed, donations and gifts given and received, and
good-bye's said more than once. Although I am very much looking forward to
seeing my family and friends in green Wisconsin, I will miss this place.
As we drove through Bamako tonight, I reflected back on some of the
sights that first caught my attention. Women and girls expertly balanced
large items on their heads and carried babies on their backs. Men pedaled
bikes, carrying enormous loads of goods or produce. Women sat along the
bumpy, dusty roads, hoping to sell their brochettes, mangoes, or other food
items to passersby. Although there were no Walmarts or any significant
stores, commerce was occurring everywhere, from the tiny tin shack to
telephone card seller at the roadside, to the small cement-built shops. In
fact, people were everywhere, especially with the heat of the day now past.
Women dressed in their brightly patterned and colored boubous. Likewise,
some men dressed elegantly in outfits made of besoin cloth and a matching
colored skullcap. Elder goats nudged younger ones to safety across the
street. People exchanged the long salutary Bambara greetings. Radios could
be heard playing Toumani Diabate, Neba Solo, and Salif Keita. Children
amused themselves by kicking around a slightly flat soccer ball in the dusty
street. So many scenes....
As we arrived to our destination, it was quite apparent that there would
be no sunsets. Rather, it was cloudy and appeared to be raining at a
distance. As night fell, the lights on the bridge and the "Batman Building"
provided a tranquil view of the city. An unusual breeze cooled us as we sat
on the terrace of the restaurant. Occasional flashes of lightning filled the
distant sky. All this, as we chatted away with friends and colleagues, some
with whom we may never see again.
In 24 hours, Mali will be but a memory for me. Although I may never find
myself in Mali again, I will revisit it many times in my memories.