Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush Taxi to Gao

Kate and I walked the dusty streets of Sevare, past little girls playing in mud doorways, past the Peace Corps building, past the Peace Corps Baba shop with its bead museum, past the Mobil station, and towards the bush taxi stop. There was a little restaurant across the street that served mafe and rice that we ate with our hands. We sat outside at a wooden table and watched boys with plastic buckets swishing by in long boubous, men in Dogon straw hats whizzing by on scooters, women with babies lashed to their backs dangling giant gold earrings from their ears.

At the bush taxi stop we sat under a lean-to, and waited, and waited. A gorgeous young Tuareg girl with golden skin led her tall old turbaned father around by the hand. Finally they sat down shyly on the ground, and then made Mali tea in a little pot and offered us sweet hot cups of it on a tray. The tea jolted us awake in the midday heat and made salty sweat drip into our eyes.

The way bush taxis work is that they leave when they are filled up. That could take 10 minutes or 10 hours. So we had another cup of tea, and then another. I wished my French was better, or I knew a smattering of Bambara or Tamasheq, a Tuareg language. I smiled at the girl, widened my eyes, nodded, in thanks for the tea.