sexta-feira, 27 de abril de 2012



Tourism is suddenly on the rise in Mali, writes Eila Rana. It is transforming the lives of the sub-Saharan locals, who have long resisted the advance of progress. But don't expect to make it through without the help of a fixer ...

Djenné has just disappeared. I am standing on the banks of the Bani River, tired and irritable after a day's journey from Bamako, Mali's capital. The sun has set, and without streetlights, the city on the other side has grown invisible. I wonder if I will have to roll my sleeping bag out on the wrong side of the river.
After a series of frantic mobile-phone calls to Baba, our fixer in Bamako, we hear something snaking its way through the river towards us. Usman, Baba's friend in Djenné, has persuaded a local fisherman to bring us back across the Bani.
As my feet squelch in the mud on the floor of his unsteady boat, I'm thankful for the informal network of guides, fixers and friends of friends that help shuttle independent travellers across Mali. That help comes at a price, of course, which I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford.
Mali is not a common tourist destination. In the run up to the trip, everyone I tell gets excited about the prospect of my holiday in "Bali".

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