Mali Visit: Baltimore to Bamako

David Pratt is from the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. He is in his second year of Pre-theology at Mundelein Seminary. David participated in the Global Fellows immersion trip to Mali in February.

Our second day was spent in much anticipated travel. Having spent two hours in an airport shuttle, I was reminded that the back of a van winding through Washington D.C. traffic was the perfect recipe for bringing my motion-sickness back to life. Our travel plans have been thoughtfully booked to allow us maximum enjoyment of the airports. Our travels would take us from Baltimore, to Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., across the Atlantic to Paris, and finally conclude in the capital of Mali, Bamako. This would make for a long day, but with the leisure afforded in our schedule (and through a Dramamine induced sleepwalking) we were able to witness stark contrasts in culture.

While departing Dulles Airport, it became apparent that communication would become reduced to the equivalent of “hello” and “thank you” for the rest of the trip without the help of an interpreter as we boarded Air France. I could see that there was a certain frustration that I was causing by being unable to understand the flight attendants’ wonderful (but thickly accented) description of the beef or pasta dinner choices. The best I could muster in meeting them “half-way” was a simple merci for their trouble.

When we do finally arrive in Bamako, the contrast to the airport at Paris couldn’t be more stark. Gone are the multiple terminals, gates, and crowds of people. Also gone are the pricey shops for Prada. In fact, this airport was built for function. As soon as our luggage was located (which was not an easy task and had me imagining the next two weeks with one set of cloths) we drove through the paved streets of Bamako.
We had arrived. Through this I keep realizing the inevitable truth, people are people where ever you go, from small town Kansas, to Chicago, to Baltimore, to Paris, and finally Bamako. I recognize their acts of service and compassion. I see their desire for us to see the beauty of their culture and I recognize their need for love. I am reminded of our deep common bond of brotherhood/sisterhood.

For now, it has been a long day and we have much to witness in the coming days. God, please bless the reader with your presence today.

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