Monday, September 6, 2010

Into the Bandiagara. Djiguibombo.


I woke up this morning to the sound of thunder and raining hitting the porch outside my room. Not a good for trekking through Malian backcountry :-(

By the time I made it to the restaurant, Tall had already finished up his cup of coffee. While I had my tea, he showered and got ready for the day.


Our original plan had been for Peter to drop us high up on a section of the Bandiagara Escarpment and Tall and I would hike down to the village of Djiguibombo ("Jiggy-bom-bo") to begin our trek through what is known as Dogon country.....basically, a series of native Malian villages that are unique to this region. But the rain caused a change in game plan. Instead of hiking to the village, we would drive there and then hope the weather would let up enough that we would continue on foot from there.



We piled our luggage and ourselves back into the LandCruiser and headed down the road. Bandiagara, which was a sad and depressing sight yesterday, was an even sadder and more depressing sight in the rain. Mud covers everything and I mean everything. After a while, you realize that it's pointless to try and stay *mud free*. Better to just try and embrace the mud than fight it.







Overnight, Peter had gotten the tape player fixed and so we now had some music to fill the air. I listened to the sounds of Selif Keita as we rolled along.




Soon, we left the muddy town of Bandiagara behind and were driving along the hilly escarpment that dominates the landscape in this region. The rains of the past few months have created waterfalls where none exist during the dry season. As we drove along, I rolled down the window to hear the sounds of water cascading down from high above on the escarpment to pools and streams far below.





The rocky landscape here looks like rock that had once upon a long, long time ago liquefied and was oozing out and over sections of ground. I asked Peter to stop the car so I could take a photo. As I positioned to take a shot, I could sense Tall standing next to me and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Peter driving off. We would walk a short distance to catch up with him. It was drizzling gently and I just soaked it all in - the rain, the view....it was all amazing.



Even in the dreary weather, it was so interesting driving by the Dogon villages with their distinctive graineries.




We soon arrived into Djiguibombo. A small crowd of villages greeted us. More kola nuts handed out to village elders who seem to really appreciate the gesture. Lots of warm smiles for me. I'm beginning to wonder if this is how every visitor to a village is greeted or maybe I' m *special* :-)




A baobab tree, a village and a toguna.








Walking through Djiguimbo in the rain definitely took away from the experience. Like Songho, it's also a Dogon village so it shares the same architectural characteristics - mud brick buildings, graineries, and the occasional toguna which is the thatched roof shelter that the elder men gather under to meet, chat and resolve issues.























Perhaps it was because it was raining and everyone was inside their home but the village seemed empty. Even the animals were sheltering from the rain.
















Tall and I must have looked like a pair of crazy people - walking in the rain. But as we soon found out, not everyone stayed inside. Somehow, I managed to attract a small group of children who as with the ones in Songho, were very curious about me....tapping on my arm to get my attention so they could greet me, touching my bare arms and the occasional hand to clasp in mind. I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that Dogon village children are the cutest ragamuffins around!






Surrounded by the kids, Tall and I strolled the village streets and every now and again, someone would stop us to talk to Tall and I'm guessing, to ask questions about me. More kola nuts got handed out to thank village elders. I was beginning to wonder if our small bag would be enough for the next few days.











The rain made it a short visit to Djiguibombo. I waved goodbye to everyone as we drove off. Next destination in Dogon country...the village of Kani-Kombole....which is known for its mosque. I have no idea what's unusual about the mosque but I'll soon see....at least I thought I would soon see.