We break camp and hike out while the crew packs up. Soon our drivers in the loaded Land Cruisers pick us up and we are on our way to Mopti.
On the road we stop in a small town where we spend some time in a very interesting shop/museum specializing in beads and jewelry, ancient and current. Sigrid is taken with what she thinks is a necklace of carved quartz beads, but when we learn that the quartz beads, are old, pricey and are being sold individually we reluctantly decide to leave the "necklace" for other buyers. This may be the only thing we liked and did not buy on the trip, perhaps we are learning restraint.
We arrive in Mopti around 11 AM and pull into the Hotel Relais Kanaga, where we were told the rooms were being cleaned. We drop the bags and head out for for a walking tour of the waterfront, taking in the bustling activity in stalls and boats, with people selling fish, salt, fish, vegetables, fish, ceramics, fish, dairy, fish and more fish. Some scenes from the waterfront:
Various stages of the salt trade are in evidence, with huge slabs being loaded on and off of donkey carts, to and from boats, in and out of markets. In the stalls, the large slabs are broken down into smaller slabs, and bags of ground and rock salt.
Lunch at Restaurant Bozo on a point at the end of the pier. Food was good, the beer was better. Mark says he is going to buy one of the smaller slabs, and I ask him to get me one too. He delivers it to us later that day. I actually wanted one of the big slabs, but apparently Mark misunderstood me. I guess I just have to be satisfied with the little one.
After lunch, the group breaks in two - those wanting to continue a tour of Mopti, and those wanting to return to the hotel. Sigrid and I needed a break, so with Matthew and Cindy, we return to the hotel, check in, and I join Wes and Susan at the pool. Wes is working on his journal, I am working on my tan.
"What one word would you use to describe D'Jenne?" Wes asks me.
"Pungent." I reply. Not a fair characterization, there was much to see and experience in D'Jenne. Much history to learn and culture to appreciate. But it was my first reaction.
Turns out it was a lucky break that we checked in early, not so much for those returning from the tour. They were told no rooms were available. Paul gets into a big argument with a rude manager at the front desk. Long-short:Maria had to bunk with Jan, despite paying single rates for the tour, while Paul and crew had to camp or sleep in the truck. Later that afternoon, we saw a large European group check in and shown rooms without any problem, so clearly there were rooms available for all of our group when we were checking in. We learn later that the owner of the Kanaga Hotel apparently also runs a tour service that competes directly with TransAfrica Tours. They are apparently not above partaking in a little sabotage of a competitor's tour.
The Kanaga Hotel is nice. The pool is nice. The rooms are nice. But the food is mediocre, guests are treated like cattle at meals, service is poor, and front desk attitude is bad. Still, the pool and bar were a welcome break for those of us who got rooms early.
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