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Published: January 12th 2011
We left beautiful dusty Djenne hoping to be reunited with our luggage sometime today - not sure what the plans are - but something will work out. We had to re-cross the Niger River again to continue onto Dogon country and we shared this experience with a lot of people still making their way home from the market.
It appears that there is always a line up and quite a long wait to get across the river and we will do this many times in this trip.
While waiting in line one 4 wheel drive vehicle pushed in front of everyone and a great scene developed as one of the guys that we are travelling with stood in front of this vehicle and wouldn't let them onto the ferry........this vehicle was trying to by pass lots of vehicles waiting patiently in line - really just barging in.....not so. Bring on the old protesters of the past (yes, the oldies of the group) - the car tried several times to get onto the barge but each time David stepped in front of the car - we eventually got our car on the barge and we all had to run into the
river to scramble onto the barge with our car. As the barge pulled away another tourist took David's place and continued the protest........obviously this story has been told many times during this trip.
We then learned that we were to do a short detour to Mopti airport where our bags would be - they were sent on the morning flight from Bamako - great excitement - and I was thankful that I would not have to wear my "beautiful" shirt. Our vehicle was already cramped to bursting point and add our luggage and lots of purchases we found in a local supermarket there - we nursed our precious gin, tonic, apples, biscuits, etc until our final stop for the night - the beginning of our four day trek in Dogon country.
I have to say - upon reflection - that was a great part of the trip and I wished I had researched this area more - I probably would have spent more time there. Apparently Dogon country is one of the most visited areas of Mali and there are several hundred thousand Dogon people living on the plateau, cliffs and plain of the area. Dogon counry covers
an area of approx. 4000 square km with hundreds of settlements on the plateau and the vast Gondo Plain, which stretches south from the cliffs into Burkina Faso. The Bandiagara Escarpment, which has several cliff villages built on the rocks, cuts a 200km swathe through central Mali.
The first part of our walking was into a village called Kani Kombole. Our driver dropped us off on the main highway and we walked down the escarpement into this village - where we spent the night - camped on the roof top of a local house. All our luggage was dropped off in this village and the driver returned to Bamako.
The walk down the escarpment took about 2 hrs and on our way down we passed lots of people coming up - they were returning from the marketing in Kani Kombile that day. A lot of the women carried heavy loads on their heads as well as babies on their backs - we were all sweating - a common bond that made us all laugh and compare each others exertion. We bonded with one particular group of women and "trilled" each other as we travelled up and down the escarpment
- a good shared moment between women.
A lot of the local villages in this area offer an "encampment" for travellers in the area. The accommodation ranges from rooftop to motel-type rooms - always a surprise when you get to your destination each night.
Kani Kambole was situated on the plain up against the escarpment. Our accommodation was rooftop sleeping on grass mats and foam matresses - where we put up our mosquito nets and opened our sleeping bags. A western toilet was concreted into a 10ft x 10ft area (long drop) and buckets of water were provided for washing....my only worry was about jumping across the roofs and getting down the stairs for that midnight trip to the toilet..........solution - only one gin and tonic tonight.
We had a great view of the escarpment from our rooftop and each time the villagers put another log on their fire it lit up the escarpment -magical. One goes to bed to the sound of women singing and clapping, northern stars in the sky, men talking softly and wake up the the call to prayer in the morning and children and goats going out into the village for another day's
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