Friday, February 02, 2007

Mali Country Tour Begins - First Stop: Sikasso

As we know, Mali is a pretty big country. The CIA World Factbook puts it at 1.24 million square kilometers. Just to compare that, we're looking at a little bit less than 2 Texas'. So, it's a pretty big area. Only about 2/3 of it is actually travelable because of all north of Timbuktu and Kidal regions being desert. So, when I came to find out that within the span of a month and a half, I'd be able to see just about all of that 2/3s, I was exstatic.

It all started out in Bamako for IST. I still haven't taken any pictures of Bamako, but maybe sometime in the distant future I will. But after IST, my sector mates and I took a fieldtrip down to Sikasso region - on the border with Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire - to visit some tourist sites and see how they run their operations down there. It was pretty cool, I've got to say. Here are a couple highlights.

Map of Mali - The red represents the region of Sikasso.

The Waterfalls at Woroni - Woroni is a really small Senefo village but because of the beautiful waterfalls there, Peace Corps helped to get funding to build a small campement (motel type establishment) for tourists and to help Woroni generate some income for the community. I'm planning on celebrating my first birthday in Mali here.

The Doors to the Sudan - Situated on the old road that connected Cote d'Ivoire to Mali and to the Sudan (not the country), these rock formations are called the Doors to the Sudan. They almost arc over the road and are pretty impressive.

After Sikasso I headed up to Koutiala for a couple of days to visit Andreea, Merv and Greg. Admittedly, there's not that much going on in Koutiala to take photos of. However, I will be returning and will most definitely find something to prove I was there. Koutiala is the cotton capital of Mali and it's a pretty big city with over 100,000 people. Other than waiting at the bus stop for 7 hours, I was pleased with my stay there and even more pleased with the hospitality of my friends.

Next Adventure - Jose's vacation in Mali - Stops to include Timbuktu, Gourma Elephant Reserve, Dogon Country, Mopti and Djenne. Stay tuned for more from Sara's Malian Tour.