Archive for November, 2009

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 24-11-2009

…is by SOTRAMA:


You may remember that Cotonou had lots of zemidjans – motorbike taxis – as well as some three-wheeled tuk-tuks. Well, in Bamako, the SOTRAMA (apparently short for Société de Transports Malienne) combines the speed of a conventional taxi with the ventilation and ‘fun factor’ of a tuk-tuk, but at the price of a zemidjan! Add to it the ‘social’ factor – that you can meet strangers, find out their surnames and then mock them for eating beans – then it’s a great way to get around town! I blogged about sotramas on my visit to Bamako in 2008 (click here to read post).

It’s basically a minibus painted green, with the normal seats and the side door removed. Narrow wooden benches are then put all the way round the inside and a chain is put across the open doorway for relative safety! Any make of minibus will do, as long as it’s green, but Toyota and Mercedes seem the most popular. Here’s a photo I took inside one the other day:


You’ll also notice that – like on a bus or underground train – there are handles on the ceiling to hold onto; very necessary at times, unless you want a head injury (or, worse still, to fall out!) Here’s a wee video someone else took of a sotrama ride in Bamako – and they even overtake THREE other sotramas:

(Fancy turning the camera onto his own face at the end – I’d NEVER do a thing like that!!!)

PRICES are very reasonable; I can travel from near my house over the new bridge into town (about 2 miles) for 150cfa, which is around 20p! And, it’s so accessible, you can even take the kids:


Finally, here’s a good site in German all about sotramas, for those of you who speak the lingo (or like looking at pictures!) Thanks for reading – leave us a comment!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 13-11-2009

…for a number of reasons.

Firstly, we had to sit about 10 feet away from the bonfire so that we didn’t get too hot:

Plenty of wood available though – most of that came from the local market for the handsome sum of £2.30!! (Unlike last year in England, when I had to beg for it at the local tidy tip!)

Secondly, you CAN’T buy fireworks ANYWHERE in Mali in November; end of December, yes, but otherwise they are unobtainable here. Thankfully, some friends had brought some ‘Tasmanian Devils’ with them from Guinea and gave us a few (don’t ask HOW they got those across the boarder!!!)


Some other friends had a couple spare from last New Year and – due to the dry climate here – they still worked fine, sending up sparks which then exploded high in the sky with a loud BANG. Only trouble was (and this is difference no.3) half the neighbourhood came out of their houses in panic, thinking there was a coup d’etat, or at very least a shooting (T.I.A. eh?)


One thing which was the same was the delicious food – baked potatoes with Heinz Baked beans followed by some delicious deserts: parkin, fudge and good old flapjack. Yum! A great way to ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November!’ That’s Guy Fawkes Night, by the way!