Mali: Sahel Journey
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours


Dispatch 7 - Somadougou

  Click to enlarge

Essentially this day is backtracking - back to the ferry, along the causeway and through the farm and pasture land along the national highway, but it wasn't all a rehash. Besides the subtle things like the time of day and lighting being different and the road side activity slightly different, Somadougou was unrecognizable.

When we had passed Somadougou two days early it was a no more distinctive that than any other road side village. Each is slightly different in layout, size, architecture of the mosque, but they were a lot more the same in terms of color, texture, shape and size of the building and sparse population.

Even before we reached the village we could tell something was up, but there was a stream of people coming towards us starting five miles before the village; pedestrians with loads, bikes, carts and small trucks that were packed. Today Somadougou was jamming. For more than a half mile, the center of town, along the main highways was packed with people and vehicles and they spilled off on both sides for a couple hundred yards in place. It was the weekly market.  Good luck to any highway traffic that wanted to get through.

Click to enlargeBy mid-afternoon many had already finished their business and were heading home. The traveled by donkey carts, horseback, and some walked. Most carried more than was normal if they had just been coming or going from the farm. People were heading off on the tracks and trails in all directions that lead from the main road. They were literally fanning out to all points on the compass..

Even with the seemingly large exodus, the market was still going strong. There was food and drink stands to nourish the crowds. The food commodities area had grains, beans, spices, vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, fish and specialty items like cola nuts. There was bulk cloth in uncountable numbers of colors and patterns. Tailors were sewing cloths on the spot. A lot of merchants were selling used cloths - everything from bras to blue jeans to sports jackets. If you need something for your farm, horse, bike, car, or house you could probably find it or a reasonable substitute. Each turn though the market brings you to something unusual and different.

By dusk most of the market had vanished back into the savannah, leaving behind the dregs of spoiled fruits and vegetables, leaves, paper and plastic packaging. Not long after sunrise even this evidence of the bedlam the day before had been swept way.


The option for a quick, hearty breakfast, at a reasonable price  in Djenne is still problematic.



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