By Bob Whelan, G3PJT
When we got to the hotel in Bamako, Mali the first time, we were very surprised to find it full of French military. Apparently the French President was due in town and they were there to provide fire control for the ground to air missile battery. We were, I recall, a little concerned that we would interfere with each other but after a meeting with them this was thought to be most unlikely. However having been greeted on the stairs by a French radio amateur, it was clear that there were a number of hams on their team too.
The hotel manager had clearly been able to strike a very lucrative deal with the French and immediately advised us that we would have to pay a supplement for ‘each antenna you put on our roof’. Now you can get an idea as to how much this might have cost by looking at the picture on the home page. The upshot of this was a series of lengthy negotiations in French with the management in which Roger and I pointed out that we had an agreement for a single payment and they replying ‘ah yes, but that was for one antenna !’. This was an interesting discussion including the use of a sort of French I didn’t expect to have to use on a Voodoo trip. In the end we had to pay more, but when I looked at my credit card bill from the hotel when I got home I discovered they had charged me twice, but slightly different amounts, cunning what? However when I spoke to Visa they said ignore it and we will sort it out. Which I am glad to say they did….. eventually!