We had agreed between us that we would like to start walking early in the morning and get to the lunch stop before it got too hot each day and then start again about 3pm each afternoon. So, today we started early and walked about 5km (in sand mostly) along the plain following the escarpment.
Before leaving Ende, we had a long walk around the village as this was the village most famous for the mud painting - we watched several artists work on specific pieces. We also saw the women processing indigo dyed blankets and scarfs and one of our group was fortunate enough to purchase a copy of one of the masks worn during the dancing yesterday....it was a really good find as only one man in the village makes these masks.
We had bought several bags of lollies for the kids along the way and had decided to distribute them to the kids outside the popular encampment villages - as these kids seemed to miss out a bit. We had bought lollies that doubled as whistles and joked that the kids were sending "whistle" messages to their mates in the
next village to get ready for us.......
Life is very hard in the Dogon (most survive by farming small plots of land on the pleatau, plain or wherever else water can be found - some of what is produced is used for personal consumption and the rest is sold at market) and most villages seemed fairly poor but we were overwhelmed by how friendly everyone was towards us - maybe because we also interacted with almost everyone we met along the way - locals and other travellers. Our group seems to attract other like minded travellers and their guides and we are always sharing our table and food with our guides and helpers.
Today's lunch break was a much quieter affair with a little music and a man providing a massage service as well - nice - and several of our party took advantage of the service.
When we reached the bottom of the escarpment, we had to say good bye to our cow and cart and employ local men and boys to carry our luggage up the escarpment. Even though all our back packs could be carried on their backs -most of it was carried on
their heads. I was slightly embarrassed to see how much weight some of the younger boys carried - but at the same time grateful for their assistance.
I really enjoyed this section of the walk and the scenery was amazing - we had climbed to the top of the escarpment and camped in the village situated on the rock ledge of the escarpment. On the way up we came across a "market" garden - what a great place to spend the day tending the garden (a lot of onions are grown here).
After a quick beer and drinks all around for our porters - we headed out to watch the sunset from the edge of the escarpment and we were about 40kms from the border of Burkina Faso.
However,on our way to the sunset viewing we were side tracked when walking through the village the local men were drinking millet beer - Mali Brewers Club - of course, we all had to have a sip. The millet beer is made by the women, lugged up the escarpment by the women, sold by the women - but drunk by the men. Profits made from the sale of
the beer, however, are for the women to keep and dispose of as they see fit.
Tonight we slept on a roof top again which just seemed to hang over the cliff face - I elected not to sleep right on the edge but was happy to be further back from the edge (on hard rock). Access to the roof top was by way of a ladder - not your normal ladder - but apparently you go up on your toes and down on your heels. I was OK going up but used a combination of my heels and bum to get down.
It was quite cold and windy that night and at one stage I had to chase my undies across the rooftop. We all woke up covered in a fine layer of dust and I felt like my face had been sand blasted but discovered that a scarf over our heads did the job.
Once again, lots of singing, dancing, chatter between locals and tourists and falling asleep on the roof to the sound of singing and clapping and amazed when I reflected about where I actually was - fabulous Mali - and only 8
days into our trip.
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