Friday, August 15, 2014

Sunset and A Malian Scam.

A rainy week has passed in Djenné, but on the 13th of August this year the sun appeared long enough to  impale itself on the central minaret of the Great Mosque.   
This event arrives a couple of days earlier every year. If I had been any good at science this might make me contemplate the reasons for what seems like an interesting  yearly discrepancy in the movement of the earth and the sun. As it is, I am content simply to enjoy the pleasant spectacle from my sunset terrace, sipping my whisky and water.
 As far as the hotel goes, there was some rare guests expected  last week end.  A reservation had been made three weeks ago by telephone from a Malian travel agency called Mali Aventure, with which we have had dealings in the past.  The reservation was for three rooms for two nights. This is a good reservation for us now, since there is hardly ever anyone here. So Baba and I spent plenty of time in the rooms to make sure everything was in good shape the day before the arrival of the group.  On the morning they were supposed to arrive, I phoned the tour leader and asked if the guests were going to have dinner and if so, if there were any special instructions re: vegetarians etc.  The tour leader said he would ask.
He did not get back to me immediately and when he did he did not enlighten me on this matter but came up with rather an irregular request: ‘We are in the Dogon country, and have just crossed over the border from Burkina. Our vehicles are stuck in the mud and we are going to have to wait for assistance. But there is  another vehicle joining our group in Sevare. I would like that vehicle to leave now and then at least that part of the group will arrive in good time to Djenne and they will eat  at the hotel.  We will arrive much later tonight.  And can you call me please? I am going to run out of credit’ And indeed the telephone went dead.
 I was beginning to feel  annoyed and had started to smell something which was likely to be a  a rodent.  It is certainly not professional not to carry enough money to be able to put in your phone if you are a tour leader in charge of a group of toubab holiday makers! Nevertheless I did not want to be unfriendly so I called him back of course, and now he put the following request to me:  ‘Can you send  75 000FCFA with Orange Money to the driver who is waiting for us in  Sevaré? Then he will be able to leave now and be with you by sunset. I will pay you when I get there, later on in the  evening. And by the way, we have decided to stay three nights instead of two. The guests will not eat tonight but tomorrow night and the next.’
The last informations were  of course welcome to a hotelier suffering from penury  and it had the desired effect in that my wish  to help increased. But at the same time there was undoubtedly a funny smell about the whole business which was increasing by the minute. ‘Now hold on here, I objected.’ For a start, why don’t you send him the money yourself?’  Or if you are in the bush and cannot send it, why don’t you get someone in Sevaré to lend him the money? You are a Malian tour operator. You must know several people to help you in Sevaré! And in any case, it doesn’t cost 75 000FCFA in petrol to travel between Sevaré and Djenné! It costs max 25 000FCFA!’  
The tour operator said that he did not know anyone to help him in Sevaré and that he had said 75 000 because their drivers normally filled their 4X4s up full tank. The deal was finally concluded in that I promised  to send 25 000FCFA by Orange money transfer  to his driver who was waiting, ostensibly, in Sevaré.
And that was of course the last we ever heard from Mali Aventure Tours.The hotel  garden  glittered in vain that night  with a multitude of little storm lamps and Keita and I dined alone under the stars so that it would look welcoming for  the vanguard group that were to arrive fom Sevaré. Of course they never did.
The next day we tried the ‘tour operator’s ‘ telephone number but he never replied again. I wonder why?


Blogger Susan Scheid said...

Oh, terrible! I hope you can find some avenue of recourse.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Shehu said...

Dear Sophie,

So sad I'm shocked at what happened to you. Wrongs will not go unpunished.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Shehu said...

Dear Sophie,

So sad, I'm shocked at what happened to you. Wrongs will not go unpunished.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Shirl12350 said...

Ryan Eagle Scammer come up with the craziest ideas these days. It is hard to believe that people still fall for the ridiculous e-mail scams in circulation all over the web.

4:30 AM  

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