Flew here from
Also met a Franco-American couple plus their baby boy on their way to Gao to work with a NGO. They said that Gao itself is currently safe although the road between
Upon arrival, a half-Turaeg-Songhai guy named "Alibaba", obviously a member of the local tourist syndicate aka mafia, picked me up and I negotiated a price (CFA 2500) for a motorcycle ride into town. I had wanted to get a taxi but he said they would only use the taxi for larger group of people. The other people on the flight all had advanced reservations at hotels.
When we reached Colomb Hotel, Alibaba tried hard to sell his guide services. After I dumped my luggage, we walked next door to the tourist office where Alibaba showed me his photo on the tourist office's register of travel guides. In my presence, the official at the tourist office also concurred with Alibaba's assertion that new rules require tourists to walk around town with a guide, as too many tourists had upset locals by taking photos indiscriminately. With a guide, permission to take photos would be more readily granted. No choice but to agree to a half day guided tour for CFA 10,000. I also made a booking for a seat in the 4WD to Mopti on Monday. Although most attractions in
Oh yes, got a
Lunch at the hotel, followed by a nap. Very, very tired. Unfortunately, I could not take a shower as the water supply in the hotel was suddenly cut. In fact, I was to discover that water supply in the whole city would only resume in the evening. I met a few upset French people who had just arrived at the hotel hoping for a good shower, after 3 days of canoeing on the River Niger.
By the way, when the water came in the hotel, it was gloriously golden-brown. Should I used the expensive mineral water to brush my teeth?