Tue 9 Mar
We arrive in Bamako around 11:00am. The train ride has taken 45 hours. A quick call confirms our fears: we have missed the flight to Timbuktu (and the next won't be till Saturday). Stefan is tired from travelling and wants to recharge. I am enjoying his company and we have common objectives, so we check into the Catholic Mission. After a shower and a change of clothes we find a pleasant locals' café, above the market, for lunch. Later we go looking for a view, a beer, and a sunset but fail to find all three at the same time in the same place.
Wed 10 Mar
In the absence of convenient flights our plan is to travel up country by road. Stefan will fly back to Bamako from Timbuktu but we're unsure how to secure a seat so he doesn't make his intrepid way there only to find he's been bumped off. We go to the travel agent in Bamako first thing, book, pay, and then wait while the ticket is taken across town to the airline office to be endorsed with their official stamp. (I never did find out if this made any difference).
One more errand before leaving town, I want to use what the guidebook features as the only ATM in Mali. One wonders if they've only got one does anyone know how to maintain it? and are there any spare parts? My attitude is to get cash out of a "hole-in-the-wall" whenever I can, it has to be quicker and it saves travellers cheques for another time when there's no choice. However, what should have been a quick drive up, punch-in PIN, cash in wallet, drive off: takes forever. There are are only a couple of customers in front of me but they're very cautious: checking their balance before continuing and counting their cash before leaving; and the machine is slow. The queue moves slowly. Stefan is very patient.