I have mixed feelings about the term “bucket list.” Creating a list of specific experiences and things to see can give a person tunnel vision. For example, maybe I’m in Mali with limited time and Timbuktu is on my bucket list, but when I show up in Bamako there is this incredible dance festival going on. I am really enjoying the festival, but there is this nagging sense that if I don’t get to Timbuktu, my trip is a failure.
On the other hand, I see the merit in creating goals and challenges. They keep us motivated and there are adventures and unique experiences, whether they are related to the ultimate goal or not, that emerge because we are pursuing something. And there is of course the whole feeling of accomplishment, and the experience itself, which should be awesome because, after all, it is on your bucket list.
What do you think?
In any case, I am going to West Africa with a list of things I want to accomplish. Call it what you will. They are as follows:
– Rent an apartment in Bamako
– Spend significant time in Mali
– Take side trips to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Burkina, and Ghana
– Go back to Cote d’Ivoire (question mark)
– Showcase social enterprises while teaching people how to draw camels
– Avoid falling into an open sewer
– Speak Bambara conversationally (read 5 reasons why Bambara is one of the coolest languages on earth)
– Speak French fluently
– Speak Dogon passably
– eat 1000 mangoes
– Play guitar with Vieux Farka Toure
– Meet Amadou and Mariam
– Actually, meet a lot of musicians. Toumani Diabate, Oumou Sangare, Habib Koite, Ballake Sissoko, Mamou Sidibe (our first encounter was too brief) to start
– Teach at least 3 Malians how to play settlers of catan.
– Avoid amoebic dysentery at all costs. Seriously.
– Drink a lot of Malian tea, but not enough to make me diabetic
– Sleep in the Niger River and eat a human being… I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. For real though, I made many attempts to convince people in Mali that I was actually a sorcerer and that I turned into a crocodile at night. No one bought it, except for Laura, featured in this episode of camel drawing:
– Tell a Malian that they drink donkey piss, in Bambara. My go-to insult was “you eat beans” and it’s a classic in Mali, but I want to add some variety this time around. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, check out this post on cousinage.
– Ride a camel from Mauritania to Kenya. Someone is actually trying to arrange this for me. I don’t see it happening on this trip, but perhaps one day, when my ass muscles have somehow become elastic.
Am I missing something?