December 21, 2008 GMT
Dead bikes and Sheep dick!

For the trip back from 'Tim' and Douentza I was looking forward to heading back South on the bearing that would lead us eventually to South Africa. Off the piste that had so nearly cost me and Bully a downturn I rode a more attentive ride toward the bike. The gearbox wasn't feeling as crisp as it had, it felt clunky and stiff as if protesting the changes I asked of it. Full of false neutrals and hated going into first gear, like a friend that had been neglected and quickly wanted again, not wanting to open up to the usual rapport and banter but remained subdued and sullen, I felt sorry, guilty even. It'll work out I'm sure... I hope! Where the hell am I going to get another gearbox from in West Africa?
Mark and I went back down to Sevare, the only route available to us from the North, staying again at 'Maison Des Artes' and full of knowledge that Migo has repaired his bike and was hot footing it towards us. Still with problems of an overheating rear brake and no lights! I was keen to meet up with him again to assist in any help I could. I was prepared to ride back towards Segou, a few hundred kms away but he ended up only in Djenne so I decided to ride down there again and see if I could help. Mark had work to do and stayed in Sevare. It's a nice quiet place so who could blame him.
Migo had done really well whilst on his own in Senegal, the damage to his bike of a busted pump was a daunting task for anyone to deal with and I'm sure would have been a trip stopper for lesser men but he endeavoured to complete the job and I have admiration for him. I'd have been tempted to get drunk, burn the thing and gone home!


Migo is a computer guy, his trade comes from his head in a methodical way, a typical German as we Brits may see it and his European traits show through quite quickly. A thinker, enjoying his own company and not used to the brashness of people like myself. A runner, recently trained for a marathon and enjoys his morning yoga sessions, a good guy, I have a lot of time for him. He's more of a technical rider, thinking through his actions, always planning his next few moves and enjoying the ride, especially through towns and cities of which I also love. I enjoy riding with Migo and although our two bikes are vastly different in power and speed I enjoy his pace and manoeuvring on the road. It shows when we three ride together. Mark, the experienced traveller, slower and steadfast but the experience shows, Migo, the technical rider, thoughtful of the next moves, sharp eyed and sharp thinking. Myself........ neither of the above, lacking in patience and skill, enjoying things I'm not quite fully understanding, not as effective as a firearm or calculating as a knife but more of a club!

So we all met up again in Sevare and moved onto the next calling, Burkina Faso. Meeting up for dinner and discussing the best routes etc we agreed to meet up the following day and head towards the border taking in some of the Dogon Country en route.


The Dogon Country in the South of Mali is a big tourist attraction for not really having changed in thousands of years, the people not having changed and refuse to do so but I was a bit full of tourism and decided not to join the guys on a little side trip to one of the villages but to move further towards the border having found my own little mission to do whilst there. Not only check out the border formalities for us but I'd come across a Dogon Mayor, staying at the Maison des Artes and during our conversation he mentioned he had a busted Yamaha XT660 Tenere with electrical problems. Being armed with an electrical tester and not being too dumb about bikes I offered to take a look as it was in a town called Koro. The last town before the border with Burkina.
So again we split up and I headed to Koro. Firstly with the boys riding through some of the most beautiful scenery I have come across yet, the guys getting video of me chasing the local shoolkids well into Dogon country, splitting up where they went to a village called Ende for their night of 'traditional tourism'. No lights and warm beer in my eyes, so I set off seeking out the bike garage with a letter of introduction in my hand. Quickly finding the town I asked around for the place and was guided and shown the garage, formalities made and letter shown I took a look at the bike. A sorry looking, piece of motorcycling history looking very sad indeed! The problem, I was shown was a blown CDI unit and a very expensive bit of kit to replace! Even for me! Even if it was obtainable and certainly not in Mali, the bike was too far gone to repair and I had to resign it to it's fate of a lonely death in the back of his garage. I tried for days after to get an email address for Kay, to tell her there was nothing I could do but couldn't.


My night in Koro after checking out the border formalities was a quiet affair with only the task of finding somewhere or even something to eat being the hardest task. The Auberge I was staying in was a dump so I opted to sleep outside in the carpark with the tent inner serving as a mosquito net. I opted to eat at a mutton vendor again and was annoyed as to the lack of meat he gave me when I requested 500cfas worth, I politely asked him for some more, protesting at his poor servings. He looked at me then mentally agreed, went back to the 'hotplate' and started cutting away at a weird looking piece of flesh, not the usual joint of mutton I was accustomed to but darker, rounder and proffered up a half dozen pieces and dumped them on my paper portion of meat.
After taking a look inquisitively I figured out, well I think I did, as to what the hell it was........ Circular, like sausage slices and fleshy, whiter then most but the distinctive 'hole' in the middle gave the game away! Sheep Dick! It was obviously a food source as to the way it was cooked with everything else so I figured 'what the hell!' and scoffed a fairly sized chunk! The locals looking at me, not trying to feel too paranoid I swallowed rather quickly and would have paid a tenner for a glug of beer at that moment! I've eaten a few things in my time, snake, rat, dog even but that's the first time I've eaten sheep dick, thinking about the lack of food in these parts and the need to make use of everything the animal can provide but I'm sorry, still a squirmish European but I did try.
I'd gone off eating any more after that and offered the remains to anyone else watching me, I needn't have asked twice as the rest was snatched from my hands and devoured by a man who had a hell of a smile on his face and thanked me profusely! Each to their own I suppose! I did growl at the vendor for taking the p**s and the whole scenario left a funny taste in my mouth, Boom! Boom! (Here all week, try the veal!)
The following day I met up with the boys and we hit the border. My previous days recce ended up a farce as we missed the customs post and had to ride back 30 kms for the carnet stamps. The ride into Burkina was a long one with a 'no-mans' land of miles and miles .............


Posted by geoffshing at December 21, 2008 11:02 AM GMT

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