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Niani - AFRICASIAEURO - Mandiana to Niani -
Night in the Savanna of Mali


I depart from Mandiana customs check point in the afternoon, leaving  the now familiar surroundings behind. The road leads to Niani at the Malian frontier.

To my astonishment I find the road in much better condition than the ones I got used to since entering Guinea

At 40-50 mph seems like a highway. A few checkpoints on the way, nothing spectacular, the usual 'pay 'n drive' method works well here.
The scenery has changed into Savanna now. Grasslands and scrubs, solitary Baobab trees, no more the dense tropical jungle.

Life in these areas is dreadful, no running water, no electricity, as in dark ages. People though can adapt to any condition that is forced upon them.

We reach Niani at night close to 19 hours P.M. and my fuel is close to nil. Of course Niani, the border town must be having fuel, I guess.

What I finally find is not the usual filling station
After crossing the town, which is not much of a settlement, I am directed to the 'station'.

I never can, somehow, forget this scene, it is another milestone in a long road through Africa. In Niani I find a petroleum lit grass hut, a crooked set of timber serve as poles, a straw covered roof.

TRAVEL IN GUINEA


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Gasoline is  filled from beer bottles of 0.7 ltrs, lined up in a row on the front of the 'gas station'. If it were not for the acute shortage, I would burst out in laughter, but now I realize I have no choice, for after Niani there is a 100 miles nothing except bush and unknown territory.


So I fill a 50 bottles of 'beer' gasoline, with a price tag almost double inflated. I do not even want to look for food, for I need to continue to Mali this evening.

Selingui






I leave, with a nbsp; memory lasting forever. The evening brings some cool air, I sense the mighty river nearby. And when I reach the bonfire that is lit near the main road I recognize the Guinean border guards who camp here.

To describe the scene there will be difficult, however this is an entry / exit point (Niani) and I must say the guards are the friendliest I ever found in Guinea.

Exit stamp in my passport, i carry on, the dark road cutting through the middle of the bush, beside the river. Driving carefully in the dark, which is against my mentor's advice, I focus my full attention on the rough road ahead of me. The Sankarani river, tributary to the mighty Niger

Selingui dam

I cant see clearly, all is dark around me, but to me it seems it is more a lake than a river. Floating gently, yet majestically. A build up to the mighty dam that feeds three quarters of Mali with electricity, the Barrages de Selingui.


A gigantic project as I am to see later on. A premonition overcomes me. I slow down my vehicle to a mere 10 mph. I cannot see the road ahead of me, and the high beams are not helping much either.

Niani Map

I notice the concrete structure that stands in the dark was once a bridge crossing a creek beneath. Now, the bridge has been washed away, and I am standing 6 meters over the creek that floats beneath under it.

In darkness, I maneuver the car back and find a diversion I passed minutes ago, leading to the creek's bottom.

Beyla



Any 'normal' vehicle would not be able to manouver through the half empty river bed- road , yet I manage to cross the waters - which aren't deep, surprisingly - climbing the other side to continue my journey.

The road turns to the left and leads into pure grassland, with bumps shaking us to the brink. In the distance a see a shimmering light, a line decorated with obsolete plastic carrier bags in all colors indicate a further check point.

No one in sight, in the middle of the Savanna. I honk the horn. It is 8 p.m. and I still have to make headway. After a few minutes later a customs guy appears and tells me the border is closed for tonight.


From his uniform I can see we have reached Mali customs. ' I beg ', a common way of getting things done in these parts, to let me pass, as I have pressing business in Bamako

After consultation with his superior for which he disappears back into the dark, he reappears and removes the rope that serves as a barrier. We cross the line and follow him, guiding us to a shelter build from grass, roots and pieces of fried branches and twigs.

Where are our car papers ?... He disappears into the hut, and I wait. 5 minutes, 10 minutes pass. After 15 minutes I follow him and see three customs officials inspecting my International yellow vaccination pass.

I am asked if all my vaccinations are in order, which I confirm. Something they must find, and in my case they ask me for a valid 'Vaccination contre Meningitis' as you guess right the vaccination against Meningitis is what delays my departure.

5000 CFA change their hands and I carry on through the night.



God was gracious enough to let me come out to tell my story. At some stage I was not sure if I could make it back home.
CONTINUED AT SOME LATER TIME ..

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DEC 26, 2022 | 13:53 PM
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