“Buy from here, good price”
~Alpha, our guide for Dogon
By Garrett Palm
Exhausted from working in the Saharan sand and sun at the Festival in the Desert, the majority of us volunteers boarded a penasse outside of Tombouctou to return to Mopti. We quickly fell asleep. The idyllic ride back was the same as on the way up: Sunset over the water, moonrise, villages on the river banks going to sleep and waking up, Bozo fishermen throwing nets into the water from their pirogues, and kids yelling “toobob” from the shores and waving. At Mopti, a large group of us split to trek in Mali’s Dogon Country.
The Dogon Country follows the Bandiagara Escarpment, a 150-kilomter sandstone cliff that reaches up to 500 meters in height. Trekking there is not tough; your bags are transported by donkey cart to the next village seven to eight kilometers away. You have to leave early in the morning because, even if it is winter, it is in the Sahel, the shores of the Sahara. In winter the nights and mornings are cold but the days are still hot. As usual, no matter how much SPF 50 lotion I applied, my Scotch-Norwegian skin on my Greek nose burned.