I flew to Mopti, and was met by Oumar (he and Camara drove to Mopti while I was touring Timbuktu).
On the way to the hotel he taught me some words in Bamara, the main language in Mali:
i ni sɔgɔma: Good morning.
To which I (a woman) would answer: Ntze. A man would answer: Mba.
i ka kεnε wa?: How are you?
To which you respond: kεnε, tɔɔrɔ te, ko tε, tana tε.
After checking into the hotel, we headed off for the city tour. Which was 100% walked. What an amazing day. I felt like a celebrity, with everyone waving and shaking hands.
All the kids (and some adults) shouted out what sounded like Tu Ba or Tu Babou as I walked by, which Oumar said basically meant: hey, white person!. I immediately thought of Baloo from the Jungle Book, so I kept picturing myself as a big grey lazy jungle bear ambling through town. That would be worth shouting about!!
I got to play hopscotch with some girls who we happened upon as they were playing!
Sunday is the day for weddings, so we saw lots of wedding parties. I even danced in the streets with the women at one wedding ceremony, which I was picturing the big bear dancing with all the gorgeous women in festive clothes. Funny image I couldn’t get out of my head.
We walked from 830-100, then stopped for lunch at a riverside restaurant. The other 4 ladies were there, so I joined them and we all had grilled chicken and rice with an amazing tomato-onion sauce. Delicious. But, I had to spend 10 minutes flossing later.
Oumar and I took a river cruise along the Niger. We had our own private boat, The Alligator, and stopped at a Bozo village and did more meet and greets (yes, I was Baloo the Bear walking along the island in the Niger in the Bozo village.) One house had a solar panel and a TV with soccer on, which was pretty amazing.
I wonder if that house is still standing? I wonder how that newly wed couple is doing? Did they flee Mopti? Did they stay put?