Thu January 03 2013  —  e-mail Manfred

following the Niger river to Gao, then back to Djénné.

Flag Mali

Monday, January 23 2006

1 year, 6 month, 1 day

Djénné, Mali

About Travel Photography,
Colors of the World.

Manfred is creator of ThisFabTrek.com, travel photography, a travel blog and a photography blog (a journey from 2004 to 2013). 'I set out to see the colors of the world, always I try to capture the colors'.

Seeing, is understanding, so I report and photograph, but formost enjoy and live those different conceptions of life (all that TV [and the web] cannot give). I reject jealousy, animosity, bigotry. Be free!

Manfred in the desert of the Western Sahara

The mind, when pondering at night and always asked those questions. What am I doing in corporate wonderland of bank, university, office or church? Who is the other animal asleep deep inside, the thinker, punk, creative, or Indian, vagabond and healer, maybe artist, writer, photographer, traveler, globetrotter? Oh God, dare you to think. When I saw the lies, gambles and manipulations I follow the old dream and set out for the journey of life lived, the journey to see the colors of the world.

During years on the road I have taken the turns as they came along, and realized one thing: Only such a small part of the planet can be explored and such a vast land and sea mass will always remain unknown, to me; many swamps, jungles, deserts and oceans will never be traveled. But then I am father of twin boys, Daniel and David, my most important, and I show them some of the wonders and colors out there.

ThisFabTrek, Photography and Journey, the Stories from the Road and Life around the World, stopped in August 2013 after more than 9 years, Love and Peace.

Last vehicle.

G20, Chevy Gladiator.

Chevrolet Gladiator G20, The boys in Cordillera Blanca, Peru.
The boys and Chevy van, Peru.

The G20, the vehicle that came to me for the Americas adventures.

6 wheeled Land Rover.

Land Rover Defender 6x6
Link to Foley

The vehicle of the Africa adventures, a Foley 6-Wheeled Land Rover Defender.

Before, the MB307.

Manfred and MB307
Journey, Middle East.

The vehicle of the Middle-East and North-Cape Journeys. See all vehicles.

Daniel and David with nanny Aisha, the best we ever had, black African Woman carrying white twin babies, in Bamako, Mali.

Land Rover 45,268km

Trekking 305km

Ferry 695km

Train 150km

Other cars 5.336km

Travel Blog

contains Festival/Fiesta/Art photography.

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo.

"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it, to tell the tale." Living to Tell the Tale - Gabriel García Márquez.

"They never taught wandering in any school I attended. ... they never taught the art of writing a book, either. It's all so mysterious."
"Wandering is an art in itself. Wandering and writing don't mix"
"Writing demands commitment and if one thing your wanderer is allergic to is that very quality of commitment, for once one is committed he runs that very risk of failure ..." Wanderer - Sterling Hayden.

"Photography enables you to grasp a place first time round. ... Photography is a means of exploration, it's a vital part of travel, almost as essential as a car or a plane. " - Wim Wenders.

"The worst prejudice we acquire during our youth is the idea that life is serious. Children have the right instincts: they know that life is not serious, and treat it as a game..." , Egon Friedell.

"How far you gonna go. Before you lose your way back home" - Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World, Achtung Baby, U2.

"If you want to be a hero well just follow me." - Working Class Hero, John Lennon.

"When I think of all the things I have done, I know that it's only just begun." - I love you, Lou Reed.

"One does not escape the Sahara - the Sahara let's you go or not" - Touareg.

"Planet earth is blue and there`s nothing I can do" - This is Ground Control to Major Tom, David Bowie.

"Glory for the crazy people/in this stupid world" - Ahmed Fouad Negm.

www.thisfabtrek.com > journey > africa > mali > 20060123-djenne

After Essakane.

Map: Journey Timbuktu, Gao, Djenne.

Download GPS (KML) track/waypoints.

Tartit, face
Tartit starts at 2 Saturday.
Tartit, face
and nights are cold.

Festival time is tough time, little sleep, lots of booze. Most acts are trailing behind their schedule, late performances even later, some after 3 in the morning.

And nights are getting increasingly cold.

On Sunday around midnight Tiris (from Sahara Occidental) who we have already seen Friday night walks the stage to play again. I am cold and I am tired. I cannot be bothered hanging around for Habib Koite.

But foremost it is never clear whether programmed musicians do actually play.

Cold it is, because a little sandstorm has been picking up over the last couple of hours. It has to be said it is quite amazing how under the circumstances they managed to keep the sound system functioning well. In general sound has been great throughout the festivals' performances.

a group forms
A group forms.
Joe and Thomas to my right.
Joe and Thomas. No tea in the mug.
Hasna and I at night.
Hasna, I, Touareg, starting a fire.

Tired we are, because many new and old friends we have met: 3 guys from Austria, Thomas, Joe, and Gabriel have join us for this Sunday afternoon binge, eating, drinking, playing guitar and reflecting a bit on home, Africa, and music.

The two brothers and one cousin have left their wives and girlfriends at home in the safety of Europe for a little adventure into the African wilderness called the desert festival in Essakane, to discover it is not so wild, leave alone dangerous, just a bit far away. But evenings worth remembering can be had, just like at home.

Andy and Esther from the UK also join our get together. Andy is a filmmaker/journalist, Esther is born in Ghana but spent most of her life in Canada and the UK. They are touring Africa in their 23 year old Toyota Land Cruiser for a year or so. We had met them earlier in November in Zebrabar, St.Louis, Senegal and had already then decided to meet again in Mali.

One more word to Gabriel. He works for Light-for-the-World, a charity dedicated to bringing sight to those many blind people in Africa. "An eye-operation does not cost much at all (30Euros), is a quick low risk procedure" he explains. There web-page is worth a visit.

So this Sunday afternoon we have our own little festival just next to where the Land Rover is parked. And some more people would join in, Henry and Jennifer and ...

Monday 16th of Jan with a thorough hang-over we leave the site of the festival and head back to Tombouctou, the 3 Touareg youngsters Achmed, Salek and Mohammed with us. We had given them a lift to Essakane 5 days ago.

They are happy about the free ride back, and happy with the business (selling desert jewellery) that they were able to conduct during the festival.

There is just one bitter after taste that remains, that makes me wonder, and that I find hard to find an explanation for, a thing that has happened to me involving a German girl. Marion, she actually lives in Cork, Ireland and works occasionally for the butter museum there. Anyway: "WHERE is my sleeping bag that I lent you, I am sure you have a good reasons not to give it back!?" Anyway ... Not giving back a sleeping bag, ... shake my head in disbelieve, ... months later I decide to write this, ... It's not the money, but not giving back a sleeping back is too incomprehensible.

Hasna and Esther
Hasna and Esther.
Andi and I
Andy and I, the scruffy hair competition.
Andi and Esther and I talking cams.
Andy and Esther and I, talking cams.

We spend another evening with Andy and Esther before our paths take different directions. A tough good bye as we have gotten so well along with them. They'd be heading for Ghana and further to South Africa, we just back to Segou for the foreseeable future for another big African festival.

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Along the Niger river

Hasna and Land Rover and wind mill, Sahel, Mali
Enter Sahel
Sand bank of Niger river, Mali.
Dunes in the back
The Niger river and Sahel
Bleak feeling.

But first we go east, following the sandy piste to the north of the Niger river. Tombouctou, Bourem, Gao some 400km of windy Sahel, Sahel or desert the difference here does not exist anymore. On the banks of the Niger river not even 100m of land is cultivated, the immediate commencement of the desert, sand or stones is disturbing. It seems it is mainly grass to feed goats, cattle and donkeys. The biggest river in West Africa is wide, flat, majestic but is on the list of disappearing rivers. Overwhelmed by the sand.

It is the Tamashek (Touareg) that live here. After the shiny Essakane parades, ordinary people's hardship here becomes visible. The edge of the Sahara does not allow for much. Leave is an option but not for all. Tourism reduces itself to a car or two a day, passing through not stopping. When we stop at the river, we meet people that regard us with some hostility, I feel as if intruding into their hopeless calamity.

Light is hazy, the sun hardly breaks through the dust and mist covered sky. The sand, river, sky, vegetation all trying to bring into line their colours with one another. Later the wind picks up and dust and sand gets flying in from north-west. Harmattan? When we stop for the night we hide behind a couple of dunes away from the main track. It looks like it'll rain at night. It doesn't, maybe further away, not enough to have an impact on the sand storm. Nights are cold, this is winter, summer must be backing hot.

2 pirogues on the Niger river
There is fish.
Pirogue on the Niger river
Pirogue.

Desert Camp and I
Night camp ...
Camp Land Rover
... away from main track.
Hasna and bonnet
It's winter.

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Mount Hombori and Main Fatima

Mount Hombori
in a distance.
Mount Hombori in a distance, road
still far away.

Mad driving north of the Niger River. Music is Georg Harrison, jaming.

Driving in Land Rover, northern Mali.

It takes us 2 and a half days to get to Gao. In Gao we cross the River Niger by ferry, Gao will be the most western part of the Africa journey for now. Gao funnily lies right on the prime meridian that passes through Greenwich.

We turn back, back direction Segou, there is stuff to do in Segou, but still 750km of air distance to go, some 1,000km by road, 4 days?

Countryside is flat. But in the morning of the 20th of Jan in the distance we see something that would not leave our eyesight till late this afternoon. Mount Hombori and Main Fatima (Fatima's hand).

Land Rover, Main Fatima in the back
Main Fatima
Main de Fatima ahead, road
Closer, Main de Fatima ahead.
Hand of Fatima, Hombori, Mali.
detail.
Manfred, 2 boys.
Daylight all day. 2boys where we stop.
Women, near Hombori, Mali
A women.

Women and son near Hombori, Mali.
Women and son.
Women and son
close up.
2 boys
Boys.

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Dogon Land

boy
Today's fashion.
boy
in Dogon land.
boy
used for cereal, millet above all.

We reach Douentza that evening, already inside the Dogon country. Mysterious Pays Dogon, it has to wait for another time. This time we are just traversing - we really want to go to Segou - quickly.

6x6 Land Rover on very bad roads through Dogon Land.

Quickly? The road past Douentza that I have decided on is the most difficult drive we have had so-far. There was a road here long time ago, and it must have been a while since a vehicle passed here. Curious and friendly are the people we encounter, with a big oh-these-mad-tourists smile on their faces, but very helpful in rebuilding entire patches so that we could pass.

Road building in Dogon land.
Road building, Hasna looks skeptical.
Road building lot of helping hands.
Lots of helping hands, thank God.
Road building, explaining the construction plan.
Explaining the track ....

Dogon cycle or ride a dromedary.
Some have been here for hundreds of years and seen the change.
Dogon village.
Village, so much ...
Dogon village.
... to come back for.

Dogon cycling.
moving around by bike and ...
Dogon cycle or ride a dromedary.
the old way or the new.

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Djénné

It takes us, just driving not visiting any sites, 3 days to get through Dogon. Passing Bandiagara and Mopti we reach Djénné (wiki) on 23rd of Jan late afternoon. It is the right time, Monday 4 o'clock and Monday is the grande market in front of the most famous and beautiful mosque in West Africa.

And markets in Africa have something special, in terms of colours, earth connection, dustiness but also in terms of flavour, taste and spice. Djénné is busy but laid back about tourists. It is a prime centre and attracts a fair amount and the local population seems to get on well with this fact.

Again a fascinating little town, one to come back for, for sure.

Djenne mosque.
Busy but no hassles.
Djenne market and mud mosque.
Fish in front.

Djenne mud mosque.
The market.
Djenne mosque and woman.
No entry for non-muslims.
Woman with baby on back.
A busy day.

Mud mosque, Woman with baby on back, market.
Monday is jour du marché.
Hasna, sachet de l'eau
thirsty.

Hasna, sachet de l'eau
thirsty.
Talibe Djenne.
Talibé, seeking alms ...
Djenne market, Woman selling fish.
Selling fish.
Talibe.
... and learning the Koran.

We arrive back in Segou Tuesday 24th.

www.thisfabtrek.com > journey > africa > mali > 20060123-djenne

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