On June 7, 2012 at 1825 we checked in at the Emirates counter at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where we were provided boarding passes firstly to Dubai under EK 333 which would take eight (8) hours and twenty five (25) minutes, secondly to Johannesburg under EK 761 which would take eight (8) hours and ten (10) minutes, thirdly to Maputo, Mozambique under SA 144 which would take one(1) hour and five (5) minutes and fourthly to Nampula which based on recollection would take another two (2) hours and thirty (30) minutes.
During the check-in in above, I was told that my newly- purchased hand carried bag with a weight of Fourteen (14) pounds has an excess weight of Seven(7) pounds thus making me panicky on where to place the things with the above-cited excess weight.
To avoid delay, mindful that there were others after me awaiting in the cue to check in, I hurriedly placed in my coat container the set of coat, pants, tie, handkerchief, and underwear, shoes, slippers, important documentations and other things of value which I would need to make myself presentable in international gatherings or conferences and the needed travel documentations in the remote possibility that my big luggage would go astray.
I, inadvertently, left unlocked the newly-purchased bag containing my spare watch, chargers for my cameras, laptops, Ipad, perfumes, etc. which I decided to check-in together with the bigger luggage.
Due to the unwieldy appearance of the coat container, I, thereafter, bought a bag likened to that of a tampipi to replace the coat container from a nearby shop which specializes in wrapping plastic layers to unwieldy bags to make them intact.
I would later realize once more that the tampipi bag though relatively inexpensive is more or less associated with the remote provincial dwellers (ciano, ciana, etc.) or newcomers (novatos, novatas,, etc.) which would not look well while traveling internationally and trying to project a professional look aside from the absence of rollers which would necessitate that it be carried manually.
Upon entry to the departure area I therefore had to buy again another hand carried bag presentable in appearance requiring me to pay Two Hundred Dollars ($200) considering that I had just caused the purchase of an expensive bag which this time had to be checked in because of the panicky situation cited earlier.
In the process, the tampipi bag which I earlier bought was left behind in the store prompting my companion to state “saying naman”. Thus my companion took it back from the store who appeared to be silently suspicious of not returning the same.
On June 8, 2012 after a stopover in Johannesburg we arrived at Maputo, Mozambique. We applied for a visa fee at Forty Dollars ($40.00) each, which was readily granted, thus, removing another anxiety of not being able to enter the country.
After immigration, we were confronted by fixers claiming certain amounts to facilitate customs check-up. While I was again panicky because of the pressure my companion remained unfazed though her bag was meticulously being checked presumptively to secure money. Patience and calmness on the part of my companion prevailed over the evil modus operandi.
Thereafter, we went to the domestic airport for our final flight to Nampula. Upon arrival at Nampula (weary and tired after seventeen (17) hours of continuous travel) another ordeal confronted us because the supposed guide that would welcome us could not be found.
It took us at least one (1) hour before we left for the hotel based on the assurance of our travel organizer based in Mali whom we were communicating with that somebody would be definitely coming to fetch us.
At the hotel, anxiety continued as our names were claimed not to be listed aggravated by the fact that they could only speak French and barely of English as further compounded by the nagging realization that the supposed local guide has not yet surfaced to extricate us in the continuing misunderstanding.
What would happen to our tightly scheduled prolonged expensive trip? Our deep anxiety was neutralized when a certain Yvonne called us asking for apology, explaining forthwith our itinerary and that she could be contacted any time of the day or night.
Inside the hotel room, I discovered that the hand carried bag I checked which I failed to lock was in a topsy-turvy appearance. I discovered that my watch, my newly bought perfume, chargers for my camera, laptop, Ipad, etc. were all gone.
On June 9, 2012 the driver who is of German descent fetched us. We firstly visited the Nampula Museum before proceeding to Ilha de Mozambique or Mozambique Island (a declared World Heritage Site) which would take another three (3) hours to reach the place.
Along the road, we noticed the presence of numerous cashew nuts trees which according to our guide was one of the dominant industries of the country. We bought a big basin of cooked cashew nuts at a very cheap price for our consumption.
I inquired also from our guide about what I read in the airline magazine about the numerous presence of rock paintings in the Nampula area. I was told that we would be passing a place with a prehistoric rock painting but it would take at least an hour by walking to reach the same as an ordinary vehicle would have a hard time negotiating a protruding railroad track.
The decision to visit the place did not push through hoping that it could be done on the way back because many vehicles were parked before the protruding railway track which means that were many visitors crowding the rock painting area. The intended visit with the presence of big crowds could unduly affect the travel schedule in the Island.
Upon arrival, we took a thirty (30) minute rest before starting the tour by walking in the Island with the following highlights, as described hereunder in the Lonely Planet book I was reading.
“One of Mozambique Island’s main attractions is the Palace and Chapel of Sao Paulo. The residence of past governors, it dates form 1610 and is now a museum. Many rooms have been renovated to give a glimpse into what upper-class life must have been like during the island’s 18th century heyday. The museum contains ornaments from Portugal, Arabia, Goa, India and China, as well as an important collection of Indo- Portuguese furniture. The pulpit in the chapel was made in the 17th century by Chinese artists in Goa. On the ground floor is a maritime museum.
Behind the palace is the Church of the Misericordia and the Museum of Sacred Art. The museum is housed in the former hospital of the Holy House of Mercy, a religious guild that operated in several Portuguese colonies form the early 1500’s, providing charitable assistance to the poor and sick. The three museums are open from 8am to noon and 2 to 5 pm Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is free, but donations (in the box by the enterance) are appreciated.
At the island’s northern end is the Fort of Sao Sebastiao, which dates from the late 16th century and is the oldest complete fort still standing in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s open until 5 pm daily; entry is free. Guides (US$0.80) can be arranged with the tourist information office.
Immediately beyond the fort is the Chapel of NossaSenhora de Baluarte, built in 1522 and considered to be the oldest surviving European Building in the southern hemisphere. At the island’s southern end near the dhow port is the Church of Santo Antonio, and further south, a cemetery with Christian, Muslim and Hindu graves.
In the centre is a Hindu temple, and to the west is a fairly modern main mosque.”
As described above, we finished the highlights of the Island except the Fort of Sao Paolo which we would visit the following day. I thereafter went to an antique shop and bought authentic items representative of the place for shipment to Manila. During dinner, I chose lobster to my satisfaction and delight.
On the following day June 9, 2012 I went for a very early morning act by walking the whole stretch of the Island from the Fort of Sao Paolo to the Church of San Antonio. True to what was mentioned by the driver the fundamental structures of the residential stone houses from the fourteenth (14th) century todate would be replicated.
The door at the center together with the equidistant windows on the left and right hand sides of the door remains the basic features of the varying stone houses that would be built over five(5) centuries.
Later, I together with the guide availed of the dhow sailing boat to encircle the Island. It was my first experience to ride the same, purely relying on the wind for its movement. I found out that through a sail boat you could not approximate the exact time of your arrival.
We failed to arrive at the appointed time which is at 1100 and place which is at the Hotel where I was supposed to request our driver for us to leave early in order to visit the area of the prehistoric rock painting. The driver despite our delayed arrival was cordial and amenable to my request to leave early.
We, thereafter, visited the Fort where we appreciate its enormity. Inside thereto a is a big cathedral or church, a dungeon for Dutch prisoners, a big water reservoir, among others.
Thereafter, we left for the airport with a hopeful stopover to visit the rock painting. When we arrived, the Toyota Land Cruiser could not simply negotiate after several attempts the elongated race track thus the only recourse is to walk the three (3) kilometer stretch to and another three (3) from for almost one (1) hour.
My lady companion begged of not to join the long walk. This would mean she would be left behind the isolated area with the elements or, heaven forbids, intruders. Considering that this is a chance of a lifetime opportunity to see the rock painting in this area, I consulted the guide on the proper course of action. He assured that the place is a peaceful place and no harm would befall my lady companion, thus the decision to walk was carried.
When we returned, I was gratified that no untoward incident happened to her.I was extremely happy with the development on top of witnessing the rock painting thus providing me, once more, with the feeling of achievement to witness another rarity aside from completing the visit to the highlights of the place. We arrived at the airport to catch our flight to Maputo.
At the Maputo Airport hoping that this time somebody would not fail to welcome us butagain after stretching our necks looking at each direction, at every nook and cranny nobody was again there. I was once more frantic because both I and my companion could not simply recollect the number of Yvonne or the paper where we wrote the number.
We waited for another hour until we decided once more to get a taxi for the Southern Sun Hotel where we would be booked. Amidst the pressure of perceived mulcters, beggars and other people trying to elicit money, we got hold of a taxi.
When we were about to enter the taxi, a young person approached us showing our names in the paper banner he was carrying. Normalcy once more prevailed after scolding the young person who would act as a driver that would bring us to the Hotel. The driver provided us with a chance to finally talk to the elusive Yvonne which ended in laughter.
At the Hotel, we were accommodated into two separate rooms which, indeed, satisfy the requirements of a five(5)-star hotel. Our rooms face the sea, have grandiose bed, bathtub with a see through setting adequate for honeymooners.
On June 11,2012 breakfast at the Hotel was impeccable amidst a rich ambience depicting the Portuguese and African influence. One is reminded of the Vasco de Gama days. The beautiful and rich surroundings had the tendency to supersede the negative incidents heretofore experienced.
On our way to the airport to catch the flight for Capetown at 1040, a travel guide joined us to briefly explain the history of Maputo. There was point in time when they were under communist rule. I saw the building designed by the builder of the Eiffel tower.
At the airport, as expected, we encountered the whispers of the custom officers of asking for money as they inspected my hand carried bags to which I succumbed just to get it over with. At least Ten (10) US Dollars were donated.
We took the South African Flight SA 1786 to Capetown arriving thereto at 1315 after a two(2) hours and thirty five(35) minutes flight. We took a taxi bound to Southern Sun – The Cullinan Hotel at the Cullinan Waterfront.
Contemplating that the tight schedule of the seminar would not allow the visit to the Table Mountain and the highlights of the place like the Cape of Good Hope, after check-in, I contracted the services of a taxi me to bring to visit these places although my camera was manifesting that it would soon run out of energy. Another sad thought is that the camera would no longer be recharged because of the stolen charger.
I visited the top of Table Mountain and its phenomenal views. I was impressed on our way down that the cable we were riding of the automatic changes direction to give focus on the highlights of the Mountain amidst the backdrop of important tourist spots of Capetown thus allowing all the occupants of the cable to equitably enjoy the views.
Its unfortunate I was not possessed with the camera to document the same. I am nevertheless thankful that I had previously bought a book from the souvenir shop highlighting these views.
Considering there was still time left I inquired from the taxi driver whether we could visit the Cape of Good Hope. Admittedly, until that point in time I would not know the historical significance of the Cape.
It took the driver at least an hour passing through scenic spots with accompanying explanation of their historical importance like the erstwhile apartheid areas, zoo with all types of snakes, place of imprisonment, etc. before reaching the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope park only to be told that we could not enter.
I had to console myself with this frustration after frustration situation by taking things lightly and praying that Divine Providence would help me out from these challenges
Confronted of what just happened of not being able to document the places I had just been and that there would be more places to be visited and events that would transpire, I resolved that I would buy an exact replacement of my relatively- expensive camera.
Upon arrival, I sought inquiry on the possible existence of Canon camera products. I was told there was camera shop which could be selling the brand I mentioned and it is opened during nighttime.
Divine Intervention prevailed once more when I went to this shop and explained my problem. The salesclerk rationalized that there was no need to buy another camera and that the solution is to buyageneric charger which they had on stock that would be able to effectively recharge cameras of all types and brands. I had to rely on his categorical pronouncements prompting me to buy and thereafter expressing my deep thanks.
Upon arrival back to the Hotel( accompanied by a deep prayer for Divine Intervention),I placed the used-up battery in the generic gadget and the red light thereto opened up, meaning it was working. After several hours the red light was substituted by a green, thus my continuing anxiety was finally neutralized with my answered prayers.
On June 12,2012 we registered for the seminar. There appeared to be numerous participants who joined. The President of International Publisher’s Association on stage greeted representations from practically all the countries except the Philippines.
To make up for this omission, I raised my hand to pose a question. I firstly introduced myself that I am coming from the Philippines before proceeding with the question. My question appears acceptable as the question was answered by all the resource speakers on the panel table.
After the seminar, we attended the welcome dinner at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Wines were served in abundance. At the dinner table, we were in the company of my longtime friend from ShriLanka (who used to represent SL during APPA-related gatherings)representatives from Capetown (one of whom is of Indian ancestry who jokingly would announce that my companion was his girlfriend coupled with the other gestures of closeness). The lamb meat was the highlight of the viands being served.
On June 13,2012 I had the opportunity to pose more questions. I heard (as per my suggestion during the post mortem session at the Abu Dhabi which was duly endorsed by my friends from Spain) that this time resolutions would be made during the concluding day unlike in the past seminars where no resolutions were being issued.
In the afternoon, we joined the Capetown tour. It was a nice development as I would now be able to finally see the exact point where Bartolomeo Diaz and Vasco de Gama landed at the Cape of Good Hope ( which I was prevented to do so after my first attempt as cited earlier). After reaching the highest point of the Cape by escalator, another climb would be done to reach the Watch Tower.
To climb the Watch Tower (with phenomenal sights once more) through winding stairs by an aging person like me amidst the strong winds could be considered a feat. I am lucky to have crossed the barrier. On my way back through the escalator I saw a Japanese about my age. I asked what was his secret for staying young and strong.
With a Japanese accent, he answered back that he was doing what I was doing pointing to my companion. It was good my companion could not have understood what he was saying.
After the watch tower tour, we finally reached the exact place where Diaz and de Gama first landed for our posterity shots. Again, it was a shining moment, when you would finally reach an important place and would try to capture its historical importance of being the birthmark on the march towards civilization.
On June 14,2012 the culminating part started with the grant of Freedom to Publish Award to a Caucasian photojournalist. He showcased the various photos appearing in newspapers and magazines critical of the erroneous governance of leaders which could be contributory to the abolition of apartheid practices.
Thereafter the IPA Resolutions were finally read for approval to which no objections were presented. I am elated that my proposed courses of action which I presented earlier in a draft form were adopted although expressed in a more eloquent manner.
Later in the night, the culminating Ballroom Dancing was held giving high honors to the Thai Delegation as the next host of the Publishing Forum come 2014. As usual, the guy of Indian ancestry sat beside my lady companion and made a prearrangement that she should dance with him.
The same did not materialize as my lady companion proposed that I should dance with her when she saw the Japanese old man( with the young male secretary) enticing her to dance.
I could surmise that the aggressive guy of Indian ancestry could have felt frustrated when I suddenly said that there was a need to leave immediately in view of our flight the following day.
Prior to our departure for the airport ,I visited the cultural area which is called the Long Walk. I hurriedly bought souvenirs of the Zulu tribes to be shipped to Manila including the book about Ethiopia, etc.
On June 15,2012, we rode with a long time friend of mine from Japan(an erstwhile Vice-President of IPA, Mr. Kanehara whom I have learned to have a nine(9) story building in Japan) on the same van going to the Airport. We took the South African flight under SA 336 K from Capetown to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport which took two(2) hours.
Upon arrival thereto, we proceeded to the Gate (which took us substantial time to reach because of its distance) for our flight to Dakar, Senegal which would take eight (8) hours and thirty five (35) minutes arriving thereto at 0125.
At the Gate we realized the numerous presence of passengers who would similarly be taking the flight for Dakar with Washington as the ultimate destination. We were requested to form two (2) separate lines one for male and another for the female thinking that it was Muslim religion requirement. I found out later that the same was instructed to be done to satisfy security requirements.
It was indeed threatening to be amidst the multitude of people. Presence of mind prompted me to adopt the usual strategy of revealing my seniority status (whom they invariably acknowledged realizing that it is truly so coupled with actuations of being weak) thus allowing me to join the first and business class passenger in liberally entering the plane. My companion would serve as my old age assistant.
Upon reaching Dakar, Senegal, although our bags were checked through Bamako, Mali my companion decided to check our bags. True to her suspicion her bag was not there. The problem with missing bags is notwithstanding the continuous bickering and cajoling they would not simply appear. Its good the Immigration Officer remained cordial as he was at the receiving end of the tongue lashing.
When we arrived at Bamako, we paid certain amounts to secure our Mali visas. As usual, immigration officers through their representatives would demand money in exchange for the immigration stamps of approval notwithstanding the issuance of visas.
The strained relationship, the presence of unlawful solicitors of bribed money, the prevailing tropical heat, the sleepless nights all contrived to worsen the situation. It is further aggraved by the recurring inquiry on whether the missing baggage has already arrived or not thus causing temper to rise.
The temporary remedy is to buy clothings and all the needed paraphernalia at a huge expense but the same could not truly replenish what was lost like the big luggage, thus prompting you to put things awkwardly in plastic bags. The agony of waiting is also excruciating prompting my companion decide not to join the Mali trip as she would just stay at the hotel to follow up the bag.
Incidentally, the five (5)-star hotel where we checked in is called the Libya Hotel which was built during the heydays of Kadafi. It is just beside the Niger River. I learned from our guide the same is the third (3rd) largest river after the Nile(which is the first (1st)) and the Congo(which is the second(2nd)).
It was fortunate that the head of travel agency was able to convince her to join thus the journey to Djenne and Dogon Country would be commenced on the succeeding day. The number of kilometers to be traversed is six hundred forty (640) kilometers all in all.
On June 17,2012 we left the Hotel at 0730 after breakfast. We stopped along the way to have tea with a friend of the driver. The art of pouring and repouring tea at varying points is artistic. We saw in the restaurant small colorful lizards. Surrounding trees were filled with nests.
After traveling two hundred thirty five(235) kilometres , we arrived at Segou, the Bambara tribe kingdom. We visited a Catholic Church and met the Parish Priest. Thereafter we were brought to a Hotel decorated by African artifacts and whose manager comes from Libya.
I was encouraged to buy many souvenirs displayed outside the Hotel. They claimed that their prices were rock bottom to which I was inclined to agree due to the absence of tourists which admittedly was so. I learned also that the absence of tourists was due to the unsettling political situation brought about by the recent coup d etat which happened during the preceding two (2) months.
In fact, although it was my long time dream to visit Timbuktu the same until now could not be realized due to the alleged presence of Al Qaeda whose alleged leader was Bin Laden in the area.
After Sejou, we proceeded to Djenne (a World Heritage site) which would take another three hundred thirty two(332) kilometres to reach. Along the way, one of the stops was to take photo of a cluster a rice granaries. My companion manifested her soft heart to the kids by giving them chocolates and having photoops with them.
We arrived at the medieval city of Djenne late in the afternoon where we immediately proceeded to visit the famous Mosque of Djenne (world’s largest mud brick building) for posterity shots. The vicinity was muddy because of the recent rain. We thereafter checked in at a hotel likened to that of a small mosque. Our beds had mosquito nets.
Similar to what I have been doing during previous trips and this trip,I would visit very early in the morning the locality where I am staying and would try to feel its pulse. When I was in the vicinity of the big mosque I was offered that I could see the inside for a certain fee to which I yielded.
During breakfast the canned sardines which we brought with us was the top choice to go with the local breads. After we saw the installation of stalls for the Monday market where tribes from all parts of Mali would come to sell their products.
Some of the names of the tribes are Fulani, Hunter, Bambara, Bobo, Songhai, Tuareg. etc. Fulani appears to be best dressed with their conical hats and dignified long sotanas.
I bought some local items in the market like the small stove, water container, etc.
Thereafter we visited the place where a young virgin was sacrificed for the prosperity of the place. We thereafter the cross section of Djenne where we learned that boys and girls at the age of thirteen(13) could have trial marriages.
Girls would be allowed to play around with different males in order that during marriage she is duty bound to remain faithful otherwise sanctions would be imposed. Koranic tablets were also utilized to enhance teaching of the Koran to the younger generations. I bought a souvenir of the same.
After Djenne, we took the road for Bandiagra which is part of the Dogon Country. I noticed that the Dogon Country is on a plateau that trees and plants appear to be in abundance.
Before proceeding to Bandiagara, instead of visiting Songho (which is the circumcision grotto), we decided to visit a Dogon settlement called Niogonon where we could see the installed Mosque from afar.
The road thereto could not be seen. We drove towards the destination presumptively guided by trees and basic instincts. Upon reaching the place my old body was powered by will power to reach the top of the rocky mountains to witness the Dogon settlement.
Upon reaching the top ,I could see clusters of tubular stone houses with the same basic architecture beautifully arranged which is uniquely different from what I have previously seen. I thereafter visited all the nook and cranny powered by the will power to see new discoveries. My companion with a fear for heights thankfully was able to reach the top through the guidance of the guide.
Thereafter, we proceeded to the Hotel in Bandiagara. It is a very beautiful hotel decorated by grandiose Dogon woodcarvings but it was said sight considering that we were the only guests. Due to the economic situation, the owner of the Hotel was persuading me to buy some of his Dogon handicrafts.
On June 19,2012 we proceeded to the Dogon County. Before reaching the Bandiagara
Escarpment, we made a stopover at one village. Our guide explained that women undergoing menstruation are considered dirty, thus they are requested to temporarily reside in separate houses.
We were told also that in case of village disputes the protagonists would be invited on low ceiling justice houses (togunas) which would prevent them from fighting precisely because it is low ceiling thus immobilizing any violent movements.
We learned that the male gender has his own granary to store rice and other agricultural products separate to that of the female gender who has separate granary similarly for accommodating rice and other agricultural products. An important part of the house is the stair which is the symbol of Bandiagara.
After entering the Bandiagara escarpment, we stopped to climb at a Dogon village embedded on a cliff where you could see from a distance rectangular houses.
Again, powered by a strong will power I responded to the challenge to climb the situated on high elevation with the aid of the local guide. Our guide showed us once more the location of the toguna. He explained also the skeletal objects of animals placed on the wall which would evidence the number of animals captured serving as trophies by a Dogon hunter.
We learned also that snakes are likened to gods which must befed and cared for to bring good luck to the Village. I heard that human offerings by the villagers are being made to please the gods which could help explain the sacrifice of the young virgin for the anticipated prosperity of the village.
After descending to the lowland I bought more Dogon souvenirs. I saw my companion interacting with the children which has been the set up from time we touch base in Africa. She has a soft spot for them notwithstanding their dishevelled appearance, with mucus draining from their noses, etc.
Our food provisions were at times freely given prompting our guide to safekeep for himself. I am nevertheless happy with this development as it temporarily beclouds the sad thought that her bag has not yet been retrieved.
On our way to another village the guide pointed to us uninhabited caves of tellem tribe (which were the original inhabitants of the escarpment who had the non-black features).
At the next village, we partook our lunch and thereafter witnessed the famous Dogon dance. The girls and boys were prohibited from seeing the Dogon maskdance. The dancers exemplify the antelope, lion and various animals.
Thereafter, we drove to Songho to visit the circumcision grotto. Original paintings on the wall were allowed to be repainted and accentuated. Stories again of the snakes-gods were repeated.
Thereafter, we drove to Mopti via Bandiagra. It was stopover at Bandiagra that my companion learned that her bag was finally retrieved to everybody’s delight. Similar to what happened to the girl whom she met at the Senegal airport where the latter narrated to her that her bag went through Washington before retrieving the same, the same fate happened to her bag.
It would be wiser next time around to hand carry a small bag where all your important things could be accommodated. On the other hand, it could affect the wholesomeness of the travel like the absence of paraphernalia to further beautify one self. Be that as it may, the burdensome feeling has finally been extinguished.
The second part of the telephone call, however, appears negative. Instead of flying back to Manila on the Twenty First (21st) of July, 2012 the same is being rescheduled to the twenty third (23rd) of July, 2012 at the same time. I philosophized that the Law of Compensation by Ralf Waldo Emerson could just be taking place where one door would be open while another would be closed.
It can not always be a win situation. During trials, the philosopher within us comes out to prevent us from being a nervous wreck. The important thing is that we keep on punching to reach out for as many endeavors as we face the twilight years where immobility would set in. We must thank God for the blessings received.
I learned that Mopti is a take of point for Timbuktu by boat. It could have been a beautiful and adventurous boat ride to satisfy my long time dream of being able to step foot at the famous Timbuktu where it not for the prevailing political climate, as I have mentioned earlier.
We checked-in once more at a five-star hotel. In the morning I walked through the main road parallel to the river. It is only now that I realize that with the cooler morning setting, free from the chaotic traffic situation, beautiful ambience of the Hotel it could be justified to designate Moptias the” Venice of Mali”.
On July 20,2012 we drove through the six hundred forty (640) kilometre road to Bamaco.
We had a stopover at Sejou where we took once more our lunch at the Hotel where ate last time. We thereafter visited a workshop where we were encouraged to do sketches of whatever on a mud cloth with the aid of an artist.
I drew a lion which is symbolic of San Beda where I am presently active alumnus and a crown which is symbolic of Rex which is the source of livelihood.
At the Hotel in Bamaco we were met by the owner of the travel agency who, as earlier cited, acted as the organizer of the entire African trip. We expressed our deepest thanks to him for the recovered bag.
He explained that postponed trip arose from the construction at the airport. He proposed that we joined a tour to the mining place and another historical spot. He proposed also that instead of paying for the extended stay at the Hotel he should shoulder the same because of better price privileges.
I explained that I did not have cash money to pay the additional charges but considering that the Hotel accepts credit card for payment, I would just directly pay the Hotel. I told him although I would like to join the proposed tour I could not because I did not have cash money. When we parted ways, our arrangement is just for the guide to accompany for me to buy souvenirs for shipment direct to Manila.
On the following day June 21,2012, the guide told me that the owner was amenable to accommodate all the charges that would be incurred for the proposed travel ,thus my travel itinerary was changed to visit the mining area and the historical spot above-cited.
We firstly visited the historic area where according to legends the Mande gods struck opened the rocks which brought about the beautiful arch. It was indeed scenic. I failed to comprehend the other historical significance of the place. In the area, if a house is numerous, chalk markings a member of the family owning the house is engaged to get married.
The mining area was open to any stakeholder. If gold would be unearthed the stakeholder would get a share from the equivalent value of the gold extracted. I also saw an albino baby which according to the book I am reading is the favourite human sacrifice for the gods because of whiteness. It was my intention to take a picture of the baby but the guide suggested me not to do so because of the impropriety and other cultural implications.
I learned from the book that at a certain place in Mali if they could not find an albino any fair-skinned would do to serve as human sacrifice.
Upon arrival at the Hotel, I met once more the owner of the travel agency. He finally yielded to accommodate all the charges prompting the preparation of a promissory note stating that my indebtedness would immediately be paid upon my arrival in Manila to which I affixed my signature.
On July 22, 2012 I did the last bulk purchases of souvenir items. It is fortunate that the guide brought me to an antique shop with quality and unique items. I bought plentiful at the promised accommodation of the owner of the travel agency.
On July 23,2012 we were fetched at 0800 by the guide to the Bamaco Senou International Airport to first check in for the flight to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport via Ethiopian Airline ET 600 K at 1040 which would take six (6) hours and then from the latter airport to take the flight to Dubai International Airport via Ethiopian Airline ET 600to leave 2215 which would take three(3) hours forty five(45) minutes and then upon arrival at Dubai we would check in via Emirate Airlines for Manila which would take eight (8) hours and fifty (50) minutes or a total of approximately nineteen(19) hours.
Upon entry at the Bamaco International Airport the airport police checked my travel documents and gave a nod to proceed. I soon realized that companion was responding to many questions from the custom police prompting me to return to help.
This gesture of mine of trying to help my companion could have angered the custom police requiring us to return after we have checked in. It took us a while before we could get our tickets prompting us to proceed immediately to the immigration as departure time is fast approaching.
It was at this precise moment that the airport police intervened and suddenly got our travel documentations and brought the same to their chief. The chief said that we would be brought to the police precinct to get travel clearance.
It was at this time that my companion shouted on what their basis was considering that no wrong was done. I similarly shouted prompting the custom chief to proceed towards the direction of the immigration booth instead of towards the exit giving me a clue that he was affected by our thunderous voices.
It was that at the precise moment that I secretly handed numerous dollar bills to his hand thus neutralizing everything and allowing us to go once more to the immigration without any more intervention. Our eyes and gestures at that moment were likened to that of a fierce lion and lioness conveying that we should no longer be pushed around or else we would roar.
At the pre departure area my companion complained that I should not have returned for her when she was being questioned as she could take care of herself. This served as basis of a quarrel prompting me to leave together with the pronouncement that I would no longer intervene on any obstacle.
Knowing the formula of getting ahead of the pack by claiming I belong to the elderly group and therefore claiming assistance, I was able to immediately enter the plane after at least three (3) rigid security check-ups.
It was during this moment that I lamented the decision to leave my companion as she could be held again for questioning. Through the airplane window, I saw at least three (3) vans had arrived carrying passengers for the plane but I could not see her.
Travel indeed to the African countries is indeed demeaning, I said to myself. On the fourth (4th) van arrival I finally saw her thus anxiety once more is neutralized. Upon taking her seat, she said (while looking at her skin with mosquito bites) that had she known that the travel would be as difficult and complicated as this, she would not have joined.
Upon arrival at Addis Ababa the time gap between arrival and departure for Dubai is too short thus prompting us to hurriedly look for the gate number and thereafter run once more.
I realize also that using the airport as the basis Addis Ababa would appear to be comparatively modernized and sophisticated than the other African countries we previously visited except of course South Africa which from my end is top of the line. The misconception arose because publicity in media that the inhabitants of the place were malnourished due to famine and the like.
Upon entering the airplane, the two aisle seats assigned to us would allow another passenger to be seated in-between us. We thought all the while that nobody would seat in the middle seat considering that substantial time has already lapsed but then a curly fair-skinned guy finally showed up and took the seat. He was surprised that we were not seated together.
Instead of trying to appear like a man about town like the South African guy with Indian ancestry in Capetown, this guy kept on bragging about her beautiful wife and his inclination to be domesticated as if my companion was interested in him. In travel, you meet people with varying dispositions.
Upon reaching Dubai after several hours of travel, we checked in for our flight to Manila. A little anxiety took place again when the gate number was again changed to another gate number, thus prolonged walking once more took place.
A traveler should be continuously astute and alert because of the ever changing conditions. Rest and relaxation is very scarce. In hindsight, money continues play an indispensable role in resolving complexity.
Finally, upon our arrival in Manila, our bags were the last ones to come out thus the anxiety is once more extinguished. We looked at each other( without saying a word) as if to convey that finally travel anxieties are now put to rest.
I am reminded of my brother Ogie who has had terrible traveling experiences who said that traveling is definitely not a bed of roses. The only time you would appreciate travel is after you have completed the same and you would view it in restrospect to serve as colorful subject matter of continuing stories.
At times you would be misconstrued as bragging, so the best way is to keep it to yourself and reminisce the same in solitude unless the opportune time would come necessitating you to narrate from your end to serve a better purpose.
Thank you Lord and to Lee (among others) for the realization of this trip and the many lessons learned.