We get to Bani late and tired, but Pat gets to meet my best friend
here, and dinner is grilled chicken with ranch dressing and sweet
potato fries, so all's well that ends well.
DAY 3 - MOSQUES AND METAL
I hope you appreciate how hard I'm working on this alliteration. It
probably won't continue.
We spend the morning exploring the Bani mosques, which belong to a
cult whose story I'm fairly certain I've recounted elsewhere on this
The plan is for 6 of us to mount 4 camels that afternoon to visit a
gold mine. Thanks to a heavy dust storm and light rain, it ends up
being twilight before we can start. We name our four camels to an
Aladdin theme: Jafar, Abu, Jasmine, and Raja. Though we did this early
on, it turns out we got their personalities pretty well - Jafar is
mean as a snake, Abu really overexcitable, Jasmine nice, Raja
implacable (except when it came to anything on two wheels...whenever
Emma and I saw a bike coming, we knew our shared mount was about to
leave the road). 7km takes two and a half hours. We're sore and tired,
and our guide is dying to tell jokes and riddles. The jokes were
terrible, but the riddles clever.
DAY 4 - WE HAVE TO RIDE *BACK* ON THOSE THINGS?!
We check out the gold mine, which was bigger and more interesting than
I expected (the last time someone offered to show me mines, in Fada,
it turned out just to be deep holes in the ground). We chat with
people in the mining camp about the process, then head back into town
to catch a bus then a bush taxi to get to my place. Transport is
typical (read here "unpleasant") and uneventful.
DAYS 5 AND 6 - HOME SWEET HOVEL
I exaggerate, my place isn't that bad. Anyway, Pat gets to see what
life for me here is like. He even helps me calculate grades for my
class! Since for me this was just everyday stuff, you'd do better to
ask him what was the standout moment of this part of the trip. Not
counting the old guy kicking the other old guy in the jaw, (to be