Bamako was a city of mixed fortunes for me. Upon arriving we found Jessica, the local Peace Corps representitive, and settled into her apartement quickly making a mess. Our first day in Bamako was productive as we searched the market for a new rear wheel for my bike and thankfully after a long time found an adequate replacement, nothing more than adequate though. We then headed to a local bar to meet some other peace corps personnel, we nick named this bar the 3am bar because even at 1pm with its heavily curtained windows little light made it inside giving it the atmosphere of a bar at 3am. We spent the rest of the day and night bar hopping and ended up rather drunk. The next day we headed to the immigration offices to get our visa`s but the process took 24hrs meaning we had to wait an extra day, not a problem we just started our bar crawl again and ended another day rather drunk. By our third day in Bamako my foot had started to swell up and turn purple, it had been hurting for a few days but Id taken little notice. It turned out I had an infection in my left foot and it was rapidly becoming very painful. We headed to the peace corps medical unit and managed to get anti-biotics but Id waited to long and the infection was in full flow. I spent the day limping around Bamako, picking up our visa, getting a new phone and doing other necessary errands. By the end of the day we were back at the 3am bar and I could barely walk, I was in agony. That night Alan and I decided to take it easy as we were hoping to leave the next day even with my bad foot. But when the next day came round my foot was hugh, purple and I could barely put any weight onto it plus it wouldnt flex. This ment cycling was impossible and I spent the day in bed resting my foot hoping the throbbing would subside soon. The next morning my foot had improved a little but not much, I decided to give cycling a try. Unfortuantely Alan had been out for heavy drinking session the night before and was in no state to cycle. This ment we didnt leave Bamako until 2pm and therefore barely made it out of town before stopping to camp. The cycling wasnt actually to bad as long a I didnt put much pressure on my foot, at this point I was taking the anit-biotics. The next day was the most painful of them all. The swelling had gone down which was a very good sign but it had brought out a lot of nasty looking bruising and this brusing ment just wearing my boots was painful and we had to stop every hour for me to remove the boots for five minutes to relieve the pressure. It was a long and painful day but my foot was recovering and by the time we made it to Sikasso the pain was almost gone.
Sikasso was a city by the Burkina Faso border and we again stayed with the Peace Corps. Alan had asked a friend from back home to send a care package to Sikasso a few weeks ago. We had both been looking forward to recieving this package but it never arrived, apprently Alans mate never sent it, we were very disappointed. But there no time to dwell and we headed for the Burinka Border. Crossing the border turned out to be an easy process, we are getting good at crossing borders. The next few days riding were largly uneventful as we passed through Bobo and headed towards the capital of Ouagadougou. Except for one day, we had covered the miles early and decided to stop for something to eat and a quick beer in a town called Pa, which we named Po for the benefit of the days rhyme. A quick beer turned into a few and by the time we left we were quite drunk and cycling unsteadily to say the least. We thought it was funny to shout 'my name is Sue, how do you do?' and 'Tallie ho' at the locals as we cycled past. This confused the locals and we recieved some strange expressions. Once we found a place to sleep we heard a game of football in the distance and after going to investigate we ended up playing in a full sized game of football with a referee and everything. Alan was on the side of shirts and I was skins, my pale complection stuck out a mile away and ment I recieved the ball a suprising amount. After dark the game finished and every player on the pitch insisted on shaking our hands like we were something special. Its amazing how happy they were to play football with us and they quickly offered us somewhere to stay for the night. Upon reaching their village we were shown to the chief and he told us we could stay for the night, its the first time we've had to ask the village chief for permission to stay. That evening they treated us very well offering bucket showers, a healthy sized meal and a mosquito net to sleep under. They were obviously very interested in us and our journey and we talked late into the night about ourselves, it always seems to be about us it can get annoying. In the morning they had prepared a warm bucket shower, our first in god knows how long. They also made us breakfast and a strange drink of tea and coffee mix which actually didnt taste terrible, i'd of prefered just a tea though.
We made it to Ouagadougou yesturday and headed straight for the Ghana Embassy to get our visas, after this we contacted Mr Kabore, our local contact a friend of Fred from ChildReach Ghana, and he directed us to his office which is where we are staying. Today we picked up our Passports and took them to the Burkina immigration office to get our Burkina Visas, this will take another 24hrs and means we have to stay here a day extra. Because we are forced to stay an extra day we decided to tour the town centre starting at the Grande Marche. Its been a while since we've been to a market in Africa and I forgot how much of a pain the stall owners are. They harrass you as soon as you enter the market and follow you all over the place continually asking you to visit their stall. After 10mins in the market we had acumilated a massive corwd following us and asking us to visit their stall, this is unbeilevably annoying and we quickly got frustrated with it and left without really seeing the market. However our new helpers, as they liked to call themselves, did not leave us and continued to harrass us for a further 20mins and proberbly 2 miles. We avoided the market for the rest of they day and headed to the nearest bar for a quiet beer. This bar was up market and full of Western NGO's who where very impressed with our journey. It turned out they were providing tents for locals who had lost their homes because of the recent flooding.
Tommorrow we will get our passports back with all the necessary Visas, except for Nigeria which was unbeileavbly expensive, and the day after we will head for Ghana. This will be our first opportunity to see some of ChildReach's work and both Alan and I are very excited. Ghana is a new territory for ChildReach and we are going to be helping by doing lots of press with Fred, the new head of ChildReach Ghana.