Archive for July, 2009

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 28-07-2009

Yes, we made it to Bamako, Mali, where we’ll be living for the next three years, and here’s a photo to prove it:


That’s us this afternoon outside the house we’ll be living in for at least the next 12 months. Nice place and in a handy location. Here, have a quick tour:July '09 (Mali)
(TL: The lounge and dining room, TR: The master bedroom, BL: The bathroom, BR: The front garden).

It’s nice to be back in Africa after a few months away. It’s hard to put one’s finger on what it is that is so appealing, but it’s just a great place to be. Remember, I visited Bamako back in April ’08, when I wrote a post entitled a decidedly civilized city. I still agree with this assessment, although after a year back in the UK, the traffic and general hubbub of people everywhere is a tad overwhelming to begin with (remember, last time I was seeing it in comparison to Cotonou!!!)

The journey here was mostly uneventful, though the turbulance experienced in trying to land in Bamako during a thunder storm was something I’d rather forget! Having two relatively short flights with Royal Air Maroc (just over 3 hours each) and a pleasant stop-over in Casablanca made for a relatively stress-free journey, even if the meals on the second flight were identical to those on the first, and were served at around 2:00am (I mean, who wants to hear that timeless airline mantra of: “Chicken or beef, sir?” at that time of night??) Here are some photos of our journey here: Arriving at Heathrow, saying goodbye to friends and family and having a nap on the plane before the turbulance woke us up.

July '09 (UK)

Thanks for reading. More Malian musings soon…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 23-07-2009


Reading through the Daily Telegraph the other day, I was rather supprised to find Bamako, capital of Mali, listed in the world weather!

Similar to Beijing, not as warm as Bangkok, but way hotter than Brisbane! Still, with a top temperature of 32 degrees Celcius, that’s more than bearable and, actually, rather pleasant! Of course, July and August are two of the cooler months in Mali and temps do get into the low 40s in April. Have a look at my first impressions of Mali just after my first visit there 18 months ago and you’ll see that the extreme heat (in April) was one of the things I didn’t much enjoy. Also, have a butcher’s at these charts from :


Most of all, I’m looking forward to December and January, when (due to the Harmattan) night-time temperatures can fall to as low as 10 degrees at night, almost 15 cooler than Cotonou ever saw!

Well, enjoy the weather wherever you are next week – I know I will (for the first week at least!)

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 18-07-2009

Remember this post, when I found a TESCO shirt for sale in Cotonou, Benin?

Well, at the time, I was surprised to find such a ‘foreign’ item for sale in West Africa. However, the opposite just happened to me, when I found the shirt below in the British Heart Foundation charity shop in Rushden, Northhants:

rob shirt

Well, it’s clearly a West African shirt, and I should know as I own dozens of them (have a look at the Rob’s Shirts album to see more). How it found its way to central England, I may never know, but it’s a very nice shirt and, at £4.50, is almost as cheap as buying one in Benin!

Thanks for reading. We’re all packed up and ready to depart for Mali in just a few days (and, yes, I’ll be taking the shirt with me for sure!) Watch this space…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 16-07-2009

Now, maybe you don’t have any, but I do! Furthermore, I’m going to share them with you…


Firstly, my favourite English words are:



Being an international, polyglot (ooh, there’s another one!) sort of person, I have favourite words in other languages too!
Here are my French ones:


(translations on request!)


My favourite German words are:


There you go! At the moment, I’m learning Bambara, the language widely spoken in southern Mali. For now, I only have one favourite word in Bambara, which is: bamanankankalannaw, which means ‘students of Bambara’, of which I am one!

Thanks for reading – what are your favourite words? Leave a comment and let me know!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 10-07-2009

This mildly amusing yet rather poignant map is doing the rounds at the moment, so I thought I’d share it with you:

How the world sees Africa
(Thanks Eddie/Twitter for this one)

I’m sure (or at least hope) the above is somewhat exagerrated – I mean all MY friends know where Benin is, right??? However, there are two gross misrepresentations of Africa which I frequently come across, namely:

(i) That everywhere there is nothing but famine, ethnic violence and illness, which is just not true. Sure, there’s lots of it in lots of places, but we can all do something to lessen these by giving, by supporting fair-trade etc. Even by going…
(ii) That many maps of the world have got the projection all wrong and make the HUGE continent of Africa look almost the same size as Greenland.

Africa is a wonderful place and many of the people are some of the friendliest you’ll meet anywhere. Why not get out there and see for yourself (oh, and in case you’re still wondering, there are NO tigers there!)

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 03-07-2009


Hard to tell with our three ‘cheeky monkeys’ in the picture!

This was taken in the maze at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, where we met up with some friends recently. We thought this was rather appropriate for an Africanized family such as our own (though there are no gorillas in Benin or Mali!)

That’s all for now!