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Next stop on my trip was the West African nation of Mali. Far and away the most interesting place I have seen on earth; so much that at times it felt extraterrestrial. The terrain and climate varies drastically from the tropical South to the Saharan North.
Like my last two threads, here is a slideshow of these photos set to local Malian music. Mali is a cultural hub for musicians, play it for nothing but the audio.
First up Timbuktu. The city is home to roughly 50,000 people and sits at the sourthern edge of the Sahara Desert. The town is hot and dry with a mix of sub-Saharan Africans and North African Tuaregs and traders. Al Qaeda alledgedly has camps in the desert to the North.
This canal was a gift to the people of Timbuktu from Qaddafi. He paid for the dredging of the canal that brought water from the Niger River. My guide said Qadaffi was building many projects in Mali, not so much as acts of goodwill but more in hope of re-igniting his dream of a pan Saharan Union, led by no other than him. However, instead of urging people to unite and revolt with violence like in the 70s and 80s, he was now trying to buy favor with proceeds from his oil. I wouldn't be surprised if there were Malian mercenaries currently fighting in Libya. The locals loved the canal and the relief from the desert heat it brought, they were less enthusiastic about Qaddafi and understood fully what he was attempting.
Djenne (JEN-nay) is a regional city south of Timbuktu with the largest mud structure in the world, the Great Mosque of Djenne. Every Thursday villagers bring their wares to market just outside the mosque.
Dogon Country - The Dogon tribe lives in the low highlands in the center of the country. Up until about 30 years ago they still lived in cliff dwellings ala Mesa Verde. Visiting these villages was like stepping back in time.
Hope you enjoyed.
I have quite a few more photos of Mali that wouldn't fit into this thread so keep an eye out for part 2.
I've had a bit of fascination with Timbuktu lately myself. Never thought I'd see it here though. Amazing photographs, great story... It's not often I want to thank people for putting pictures up here, but this is definitely one of the special ones. So thank you thank you thank you.
I wish we had end of the year awards on SSP so this could win something.