Participate in a marriage
Sunday usually is the day marriages are being celebrated . (Hence the famous song by Amadou & Mariam 'Les Dimanches à Bamako, c' est le jour du marriage).
If possible try to join such a celebration.... You'll experience the enthusiasm and exuberance of traditional West-African life!Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Use your right hand
Like in many other countries all over the world, eating with you left hand is not accepted in Mali. Very often when you're eating local food in Mali there are no knife and fork or spoon around to eat with, so people often eat with their hands. And since the left hand is considered the "unclean" hand people only eat with right.
Of course, if you eat with knife and fork this is not a problem, though the hand that brings the food to your mouth is best to be the right one, even if you eat with a fork.
Besides the eating part, also when you give things it's best to use your right hand. For example: when you give money, but also when you get back the change.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Have some tea!
Malians love their tea! No matter where you are in the country, you'll always come across someone boiling a fresh pot. It's considered a great gesture of friendship to offer tea to visitors, and it's also considered quite rude to decline such an offer!
The cups are generally very small, about the size of a shot glass, so even if it's not your "cup of tea" to have this type of drink, be polite and drink it anyways. Especially if you plan to spend a decent amount of time with the person who offered it.
Be careful though, because it's always freshly made, which means it can sometimes be very hot!Related to:
- Food and Dining
Soap Operas :-((
In Mali if you go to lunch in a restaurant at telenovelas' time (soap operas time) you are lost!!!
Mexican and Venezuelan telenovelas have invaded Africa too. In Mali people see these telenovelas translated into French and they are very popular, even between men. So if you want to have lunch at telenovelas' time you'll have to wait until the break, like it happened to us :-((Related to:
- Road Trip
Local masked dances
This could be considered as a tourist trap as well. During your excursion to the Dogon country it will be almost impossible to avoid them. They tell you how lucky you are because these dances are rare to see and oops! just that day there is I don’t know which important event and there will be a performance! The truth is that they do these performances every day as soon as they see a group of tourists arriving to the village. And they make you pay the performance very expensive! Ok I payed just to get them to be quiet but I was not interested in it and I preferred to go around the village to take some pictures. But dances were so long that I took all the possible pictures about the village and I still had enough time to see half of the performance :-)). Luckily I sat next to our guide and he explained me the meaning of the different “scenes”, otherwise it should have been very boring!
Picture 3: the man dressed in blue marks the step. All the warriors have to follow him
Picture 4: warriors fight, not very comfortable!!
Picture 5: they want to kill the warlok :-((. But after that this same person sits in front of the warlok to play with him. Mah!
In small villages it will happen to you to see this kind of constructions
(picture 1). They are, together with mud huts and mud granaries, very common in Mali. There are good to protect yourself from the sun but there are used as stalls. The village’s local markets are basically a group of these stalls. Leaving Mopti direction to Timbuktu we found another kind of constructions (huts), very different with regard to the first ones
(picture 2). Even the granaries are different, completely made of straw (picture 3). Maybe they belong to a different tribe.
These fabrics form part of Malian clothes. They are made of natural materials and decorated using natural dyes. We are not talking about simple accessories, something to put some color to their dresses. From these fabrics (the designs, colors, materials) you can understand lots of things about the owner like his tribe, social status and even if he is married or not. The picture shows some fabrics waiting to be sold.
I found these constructions very nice, as they look like the smurfs’ huts. Made of mud and slightly elevated from the land by a wooden structure to avoid humidities, each hut corresponds to a family. Sometimes, if the family have more ressources, the man has his own granary and the woman has another one (usually bigger!). Women introduce the grain after the harvest through the roof. The wooden sticks on the wall are used not only to keep the consistence of the mud architecture but also as a ladder. Then, when the family needs the grain, it is taken out by a child who introduces himself in the hut through the small window. Don’t you believe me? Look at the second and third pictures!
You can find these granaries everywhere in the country
Women in Mali are very elegant! And it is not a matter of a good dress or nice accessories; I am talking about a natural elegance. You can see a girl or a lady dressed with very poor clothes but she behaves and walks as if she was the star model in a fashion show. La classe!!
The baobab tree ("Adansonia digitata") is very typical in this area. Also known as the upside-down tree (the sparse branches resemble roots) it is very spectacular and some of them can reach 25 m high. Its fruit is called “pain de singe” (monkey’s bread) and its taste is not very different from cola, with a final acid taste. I have read that some baobab trees are more than 4000 years old!
I don't know how to describe this: it's a kind of fruit with a final acid taste that it seems to have the same effect than our cola: if you eat it you cannot sleep at night.
Following the advice of our Dogon guide we bought a bag full of cola before starting our trip to Dogon Country. Foreigners use to offer cola to old Dogon people when they arrive to their village as a sign of respect.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
If you wander around the markets in Mali, you'll see lots of stalls with a kind of dried fish (picture 1). This is a very popular dish in Mali. You can also find some fruits like small bananas and big watermelons (picture 2)Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Pinasses are the traditional boats in Mali and they are the main transport on the Niger River. Pinasses are made of wood and they put black tar on it in order to be waterproof. Local people use paddles to sail; tourist pinasses are covered with a roof and they have engine.
We used pinasses to do short excursions and visit traditional villages around Mopti but it's also possible to use it for long excursions, like the 3days trip in pinasse to Tombouctou
When we were in Segou we were lucky enough to see a Wedding! Very nice, it seemed that all the city was invited to the event!!! Of course people were wearing their best clothes (picture 2) . . . weddings are always very important in the community!!! On the picture you can see the most expected moment: the just married couple going out of the church :-)
Although we are not Muslim-Mali is,
and we celebrated along with the population at this local party where of course we we’re the only ones drinking!!!! We danced till the early hours of the morning, from reggae to rap to traditional African music, letting go was a blessing that night:)
from left to right is Tina, Jonathan, Crelene and her African man Vieux and then there's Alessane, and me!
ACI 2000, Hamdallaye, (formerly Radisson SAS), Bamako, 2566, Mali
Good for: Couples
Missira 1, Rue 08, POrte 1039, Hippodrome, Bamako, Mali
Good for: Couples
Quartier du fleuve - rue 311, Bamako, BP E 3506, Mali
Good for: Couples
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