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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Mali - 15 November, 2000

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Nombori (Dogon village on the escarpment) N1419.887' W00324.310' 382 m  
Finish Tireli (Dogon village on the escarpment) N1422.861' W00320.877' 327 m 9 km (walk)

Total:

9,825 km

 

Weather: Clear, sunny and very hot (40+, 35+ in the shade).   Cool in the evening and night.

 

 

Daily Journal Entry:

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We are awake at 5:30 AM and we watch the sun rise and light up the plains and the escarpment.  We pack up our tent and bags and then have some breakfast.  Breakfast is local doughnuts and bread.  After a short break, we then go walk around the local village.

 

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We first go see the the Christian church (we had actually heard them the night before having a service).  It is  low mud hut, with wooden slabs for benches.  We then head up to the old village (in Dogon, there are the old Tellem (pygmy) homes built high on the escarpment wall that were abandoned hundreds of years ago - many cannot be reached today, the old Dogon villages built on the low edge of the escarpment and hard to get to, and the new Dogon villages down near the plains.  See Dogon Country for further details).  Only one family still lives in the old village - the family of the previous chief, who died 5 years ago.  In this photo you can see the old village at the bottom and the Tellem homes and caves on the cliff face.

 

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We then head to the togu-na, which is the village meeting place.  It is built as a low, open walled structure with 8 columns.  The roof is covered with eight thick layers of dried millet.  The structure is built with a low roof on purpose - when villagers meet here to discuss matters, things can never get out of hand as no one can stand and come to blows.  Jacqui is presenting a cola nut to one of the village elders as a sign of thanks for letting us visit their village.

 

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We then go and visit the village chief in his home and pay our respects and thank him for letting us stay in in village.  We gave him a number of cola nuts.

 

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We then, at 8:30 AM, head on our way to the next village where we will be spending the night.  It is a 9 km walk on the sandy, flat lowlands that takes us 2.5 hours.  Many of the local children would walk along with us for quite a ways - they would either just like the company (often wanting to hold our hands), be looking for a gift or want to carry our bags for a fee.  While the walking is easy (except when the sand gets a bit heavy), it is very hot out and the sun is beating down on us.  We take a few stops and drink lots of water.  We have a porter with us that is carrying a jerry can with water, so we are able to re-fill our water bottles often.  But today Lars must have drunk over 8-10 liters of water.

 

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We get to Tereli at 11 AM and just spend the rest of the day hanging out.  We seek out what ever shade that we can find.  After a very heavy lunch, we find some mattresses, and just laze and nap away the hot afternoon.  We had arranged for this village to put on a traditional dance for us - a very important part of the Dogon culture.

 

Just before 4 PM we walked up to the village meeting place for the dance.  Masks are a very important part of the Dogon culture and are important in the religious ceremonies, including the dances.  We were fortunate to be able to witness one of these dances.  The dance lasted for about 30 minutes, and they had two large drums, plus a  bell to beat a tune to dance to.  There were a number of dancers who wore different masks representing different important aspects of Dogon culture (see Dogon Dance).  It was a great experience.

 

After the dance, we took it easy for the rest of the evening.  Shortly after dinner, we retired to our tent, that was set up on the roof of one of the buildings.  We had a great view of the night sky, along with the escarpment and the moon rising behind it.

 

 

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