A note that I sent to my friend Lauren that I thought I would share with all of you:
Greetings from Bamako, Mali! I just got in this afternoon and was finally able to check my OKC mail. (For some reason I can't access my account from Senegal.) The last three weeks have consisted of AMAZING food; wonderful sunsets on white beaches; not understanding anyone (my French is appalling); long car rides on terrible roads in shitty "bush taxis" that should've been scrapped ten years ago; being turned away at the Mauritanian border because they're no longer allowing white people in due to Al-Qaeda (four Frenchman got their throats slit in the desert when passing through for the Dakar Rally); and my guide spending (or pocketing) all my money and abandoning me in Cap Skirring, the southernmost point in Senegal - and one of the most difficult places to be if you have to track a person back to Dakar with little cash. The police are now looking for him, but he has effectively derailed my vacation. After realizing how much of a nightmare this trip has been, I was ready to throw in the towel. But then I remembered that my room in Chicago is subleased until the end of the month AND I've already dumped a large stack of bills just get there, so I might as well stick it out.
And that's just what I'm going to do.
I've lost so much time on this trip - all thanks to this asshole who stole my money - so now I'm forced to make a mad dash for Timbuktu. It's going to be a grueling two-day bus ride to get there, but I'm hoping for the best. I came here to reach one of the most remote outposts in the world and ride a camel, damnit! Wish me luck!
I hope this e-mail finds you well. If I don't reply for a while, it's likely because I'm stranded in the middle of the Sahara.