Week5: Feb6-10

Festival, horse-racing, hurtling toward the finish line, aching at the thought...Departures

Sunday, 6 Feb. 2011, was an interesting day: Packing, taking Mami to the gallery to see the show, meeting Boubacar Alkourachi to discuss his photos and film work, buying the CDs and a fabulous beaded necklace I wouldn't have bought under any other circumstances. I decided to abandon going to the concert, the last concert of the festival because it was my last night with family and friends. Mami was having a hard time breathing so we called Kida to pick us up. Just then we ran into Wren and Anna, so we dashed over to the restaurant across from the Esplanade Hotel for a quick coca-cola, sharing about 10 minutes before Kida arrived to whisk Mami and me back to the house. We squeezed in a visit to Mme. Sante (?) an aunt of Baco Sanogo's. She works with the Villages Millenaires projects overseeing 39 villages in the region. Dinner Chez Restaurant Mami with Ina and Michel

Monday, 7 Feb. 2011: Segou good-byes, last looks at my favorite city, carrying all the beautiful fabric I could want, processing a wonderful unexpected gift, leaving new friends behind, reconciling my two lives... Found Mme. Diao bedridden, but true to protocol, she could not let me go without the proper greetings to my family and our mutual friends. Thank goodness she is much better now. ThiouThiou Coulibaly came by as we were loading the car at Kida's and I'm not sure I hugged Fati enough. 

Monday Afternoon-Wednesday Afternoon: Bamako: Tour of Hotel Colibris with view of pool and community garden - Nouhoum is very proud of hotel and new baby girl, Fatimata; Fifi manicured, tressed and preparing for her first day out of the house and the baby's naming day. New glimpse into being a poor, urban Malian woman on the dating scene.  Kida's last joke on me - abandonment and redemption! Kida's sisters, a beautiful dress, minor medical/aesthetic recommendation; My entourage. closure? closure. Kalifa arrives. Yah arrives. Farewells in the Golf quartier with last photos taken in Bamako. Flight to the airport. Aminata's new hairdo. Favors at the terminal. luggage checked. 

Dakar arrival, claim the baggage with assistance, exit and re-enter the terminal, check the baggage with assistance and advice; get next boarding pass, with assistance (he didn't hear me when I said I had no CFAs), and finally advice on how to get CFAs so I could give an appropriate tip for his assistance, for his family.

Big South Africa Airlines flight, Dakar to DC: Not full, lots of room, except for the man who hoped I'd move and slept across 4 seats. Among other things, I watched The Departures - a lovely Japanese film about a decent cellist who becomes an extraordinary preparer of the deceased. I cried and cried and cried. a little emotional closing ceremony of my own.

Thursday Morning arrival in DC. Claim the baggage again, go through customs, walk halfway across the moon to reach the shuttle trains to walk the other half to get next boarding pass and check the baggage again so I can board a tiny, tiny plane that turned out to be much more enjoyable than the airbus. Left late, flight was quick, arrived early. Flight attendant flattered me by asking if I had any eligible daughters... lordie. Door opens, true hospitality ended in DC, punctuated by Richmond employees. I gathered my weary feet, knees and eyes, make my way out the plane, up the ramp, down the corridor and up the ramp to see a tall drink o'coffee at the top toss his cup away at the sight of me and the world of Mali begins to recede, reluctantly into mist...