Where I come from, you make an invitation to the morning. The morning waits for you, at your leisure, until you’re ready to ease back the curtains, slide into slippers, and entertain the gentle follies of birds beyond the window.
Not so, in this place.
Here, the morning creeps into you, pries you open, and delivers a weighty blow. It starts with the noise, and the noise starts early: a 5am call to prayer from the mosque across the street. and then the heat, lingering just beyond the front door. the brazen sun has no need for stalking; it lies still, waiting for victims to stumble out of their homes and into its stifling trap. Once you’re there, the blurred white noise of the street crystalizes into its thousand pieces, and they come at you from all angles: a cow bellows, ambling by; a huddle of goats next door gab through breakfast; motos tip and dip across holes puckering the dirt road; neighbors call out and chatter; children shriek and cry; dogs bark, hammers clank. The day’s rumblings are steadily picking up.
And the smells! A car ride with the windows down delivers olfactory sensations that’ll bowl you over into tomorrow. Diesel fuel tears up through the nostrils and out the eyes. Add to that a potent mélange of trash, and burning trash, and burning wood, and what must be burning rubber, lunch options on sidewalk grills, swirls of sensational cologne and perfume and, through the market, all manner of fish and meat, fresh and less-so.
The colors of this place grip you by the neck and stare you down: the finest ladies sport vibrant ensembles, zip-zipping through traffic on their motos, the most rambunctious patterns and shades hemmed and tucked and perfectly pleated. All manner of storefronts show off come-hither hues. trucks and buses and sotramas are filled to the gills with people and product; they look like victims of a mad pre-school mob armed with finger paints and an affinity for Che Guevara and the blessings of Islam.
The morning is breathtaking in Bamako, and I mean that honestly. There is no resisting, there is no No, there is only acceptance to the whirlwind whipped up by an impatient dawn. And it delivers you, a satisfied and saturated heap, to the afternoon.