Erika Maier has upped sticks in Switzerland to run a hotel in Mali. Despite the outbreak of civil war and lack of tourists, she refuses to leave the country. Ironically, the conflict has now brought her guests in abundance.
Four years ago, the 60-year-old from Schaffhausen started a new life: she built a hotel -- "Nanagaleni" -- in Koulikoro with her partner. In 2012, it was ready, but a coup and the subsequent civil war frightened off tourists.
However, the conflict, which still affects the country, has proved a blessing for the brave entrepreneur, even if guests usually bear a uniform and weapons instead of civilian outdoor clothing. Indeed at the weekend, the hotel pool can be full of soldiers.
Officers of the former colonial power France, which has taken on the jihadists in Mali, European trainers of the Malian units and staff of non-governmental organisations have allowed the Nanagaleni hotel to thrive.
With the nearest airport around 60 kilometres away, Maier feels safe and says she would be evacuated if trouble were to break out.---
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