The Fat Kid Diaries: Week 57. Put Mali on the bucket list!

It was only 3 days, but much maligned Mali proved what so many people who've actually been and spent time there told me to expect, it's a fascinating place, with amazing people, and unique in so many ways. Yes, there are parts of the country which are best avoided at the moment, but my goodness it's near the top of my bucket list for a return visit in the future.

The week ended with with a final couple of days in Burkina Faso, and an arrival in (English speaking!) Ghana; another country I've really been looking forward to.

Ending: Sat 2 Aug 2014

Starting point: Djibasso, Burkina Faso

Ending point: Wa, Ghana, country 36 (via Mali)

Approx. Km's covered: 700km

Some selected highlights:

1. Some of the best roasted goat yet of the entire expedition.

2. The cashew nuts of Burkina Faso – unbeatable Fat Kid fuel!

3. The politeness, professionalism, and warm welcomes from the immigration officers of all 3 borders crossed.

4. The warmth of the people of Mali…quite incredible.

5. A day off in Bobo Dioulasso and touring the old city and markets.

6. Despite some challenging conditions, covering some decent miles.

7. Successfully entering Mali ahead of my visa validity dates (it's the small victories!).

8. Meeting the coolest Swiss couple on a remote Burkina Faso road, who sold up everything in Zurich, and are now 6 months into a 4 year round the world expedition in their land cruiser.

9. Should have been in last week's update, but meeting Erin Nicholl while in JHB, and especially seeing the joy on mum and dad's faces…congrats Dan and Dee!

10. Some truly epic landscapes.

Some challenges:

1.  Running out of water…never fun, but it's been a while fortunately!

2. Less than a 100km of dirt this week, but possibly the worst corrugations of the entire expedition.

3. Once again,100's of km's of dead flat, rough tar roads, in 35'C+ heat with constant winds…fun stuff!

4. Comprehending how one can cycle 135km on a not-insignificant tar road, and not see one other vehicle the entire day.

5. Mid week tummy flu!

African #HumanSpirit moment of the week:

The young girl at the school in Diebougou I camped at who assisted in putting my tent up, and who shared her sweets with me, all with the biggest smile!

Particular thanks to (as always, in no particular order, and apologies for the inevitable omissions):

1. Moussa and his wonderfully friendly team at DHL Bobo Dioulasso office for the generous and warm hospitality…and the tour of the city!

2. The church that allowed me to move my tent inside during the most incredible downpour imaginable.

3. The truck driver that stopped to share his water.

4. Lawrence van Lingen for the doc referral (should also have been in last week's update).

5. Discovery for the very moving Lettie tribute at the Vitality Summit.

Something random I learnt (aka a FFF or 'Fascinating FatKid Fact'):

Mali’s Great Mosque of Djenne is the largest mudbrick building in the world.

What I will try never take for granted again:

Smooth asphalt roads!

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