I knew going in to the Festival in the Desert that I was doing something crazy. I traveled all the way from Nigeria back to a desert outpost outside Timbuktu in Northern Mali so I could participate in this Tuareg music festival. The whole drama of waiting for a Niger visa in Abuja, Nigeria, put me off a bit and I ended up on this crazy series of flights back to Bamako, then paid a painful chunk of cash for a supposedly comfy and dependable 4×4 ride to Timbuktu and back to Bamako, missing the final day of the music festival so that I could return in time to catch a flight from Bamako. Instead, the 4×4 had engine trouble and I ended up having to rent a vehicle with only a few hours to go before my flight left the airport.
The flight from Bamako, Mali, to Accra, Ghana, was the first in an incredible arc of flights planned across the continent, traveling then on to Johannesburg, South Africa, and finally to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. After a lot of travel aggravation with South African Airways, I ended up instead skipping the Congo portion of the trip and heading on after a fourteen hour harangue in the Johannesburg airport to Harare in Zimbabwe.