Sunset over 2010… Ace and I gaze into the distance across the new hotel terrain. What will 2011 bring?
We were to build a great Djenne house in 2011 adding another 10 rooms to the hotel. These plans have had to be put on the shelf for the moment. Much more effort is required than anticipated to fill the land since the water rose so high this year- who knows where it will reach next rainy season? We will continue our efforts to fill our piece of land with earth to raise the level. But in stead of building we will only plant, biding our time. What a nuisance! I was full of beans and great ideas for the new hotel addition…Oh, well will have to concentrate on the garden- I want to grow a maze!
But it was not only the rains that were destructive this year: The rumours of war and Al-Quaida activity in Mali have taken an even higher toll, and everyone in the tourist business has been severely hit by the warnings not to travel to Mali. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs started this campaign with most other countries following like lemmings in their wake. Key tourist areas such as the Dogon country, Djenne and Mopti have been shown alternatively orange, red and orange again on the information sites according to the supposed threat to potential travellers.
There has never been an attack or even a threat of attack in any of the tourist areas of Mali, Timbuktu included. Yes, there have been people held in the far North of the country, but these people have not been tourists, and were kidnapped in the Niger and brought across the border in an area hundreds of miles from anywhere anyone visits on a tourist trip to Mali.
Meanwhile Al Quaida or similar organisations has been active elsewhere: in the last month there have been suicide bombers in Stockholm. There have been innumerable threats to France itself. The Greek Embassy has just been added as the latest in a series of embassies to be attacked in Rome.
There seems to be some foundation for claims of danger in these countries. Does the French Foreign Office suggest that tourists should avoid Sweden, itself or Italy? Of course not. Why not?????