My Travelcation in Bamako, Mali
Like nearly every story in my life, the tale of my travelcation in Bamako starts with a little bad luck and some terrible timing. Months of hard travel through West Africa had definitely worn a bit on my ambition to be moving constantly. Every day was a struggle. Not that it didn’t also come with it’s rewards, but certainly the pace I was travelling wasn’t something I could realistically maintain. However, if it wasn’t for struggles in the non-travel aspects of my life, I probably would have never realized how much I needed a travelcation.
I hadn’t earned a proper paycheck in 2 months, was spending at a rate of someone doing well for them self, and on top of it the spirits of the Niger River magically pulled my GoPro camera from my hand and tossed it into the depths of its gaping mouth. I had no choice but to take a break in Bamako, I had no money to continue on even if I wanted to.
It didn’t take long, however, in Bamako to realize that a travelcation is exactly what I needed. As is the case every time some goes array in my life, I can’t help but wonder if the world knows what I need more than I do and simply steers me across bumps to take me exactly where I need to be.
I was exhausted when I arrived in Bamako. The last time I spent longer than a week in one place was in Phoenix in January, ten months before my arrival in Bamako. I think that was the last time I took a true vacation. The last time I met a fellow traveller was in late July, and the last time I took an entire week off from writing was in August. As talk of American Thanksgiving started to surface on my facebook feed, I came to the realization that, damn, I needed to take a break; or at least change how I’m operating, because no one can possibly function the way I have been.
While my work is travel, my vacation is one away from travel. It is one where I sit still for a couple days watching Will Ferrell movies and drinking alcohol with friends. For me, a vacation is a couple days without looking at search engine traffic statistics or playing around with WordPress. For me, a vacation is never saying the word travel or thinking about my next destination. I love travel, but we need breaks from even the best things in life.
I’ve spent a month in Bamako now, with a short break to the interior of Mali mixed in there, and I can’t be more satisfied with it. Although to the eye it looks nothing like Medellin, Colombia it feels a bit like that to me. There are incredibly friendly people, a massive expat community and a nightlife that would satisfy even Charlie Sheen. I’ve worked myself into a bit of a routine here staying at the Sleeping Camel Hostel. I don’t worry about waking up to catch buses, booking hotels down the road, and planning activities. I just go about my life.
I think perhaps the problems in my life are always centered around the fact that I’m always looking forward. I love to tell people how I live in the moment, and I truly try to do so, but like the Niger, my mind often meanders like a snake lost in the desert in search for a home, a meal, or just a nice spot in the shade. I am always in a hurry, a byproduct of the idea that I think that my life is too good to be true so I want to indulge in as much of what this planet has to offer before my lucky time in travel comes to an end.
My travelcation in Bamako has recharged my energy and moreover it has fueled my desire to challenge myself and the world. This coming week, I will set off on a scooter I bought and attempt to drive it all the way to South Africa. Why a scooter you ask? Well, with a scooter, I have no choice but to take things slow.