Seatbelt for driver only ¨hahahahaha¨

Trip Start Sep 17, 2009
Trip End Nov 17, 2009

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hotel tizimizi

Flag of Mali  ,
Sunday, September 20, 2009

sept 28 2009

greetings earthlings

just completed a 5 day river trip down the niger in the middle of the sahara with my wife aka safari master erin

we have a suport crew of 4 guys and thanked God multiple times for them

journal from,  2 nights ago:

todays def the hottest day yet:   its easily 110 outside: saharan dunes abound:  saw a hippo eating rice in a field; freaking ginormous:   we are exhausted but happy and learning a ton: the cooling down process takes hours of patience each night: reminds me even more how soft i am;   drinking a cold beer sounds effing good right now after we blast ac all over our personage;  this is hands don the most hardcore trip i have ever done.  the Malians are barely even breaking a sweat:the kid on our boat keeps drinking from the river, he had malaria 2 days ago so erin and i put him, on a diet of bottled water:

i remember the scene in that film, with cusack and billy bob thorton where he is trying to impress billy by driving crazy and he looks over and billy is dead as a doorknob asleep; that reminds me of this; we r spraying evian spritzers on eachother and dabbing sponges with bottled water to cool ourselves off, meantime they are cookin the hot stove right now next to the engine in the same heat we are;    at night we r in our mosquito nets with headlamps and bottled waters while they just grab a blankie and hop up on the roof sans gringo-net for some shuteye:  I jump off the ladder not to get my feet soaked in the Niger which we have been told will make us sick.  to my right?  30 ppl dance and swim happily in the water we avoid like the plague

I am sorry but even bear grylls looks like ¨don knots camping safari¨compared to these leather tough badasses;   every time we feel bad for ourselves we look at our iron crew of warriors and pipe down the violin:   new york didn't make me tough; it just made me an urban survivor;   Africa makes you tough; because you are close to what really matters in life; the elements;  

Bap kennedy said ¨I am mostly water¨  true that

Riding in the niger river and not being able to swim in it for 5 days is akin to visiting italy and not being able to eat Italian:   its Greece with no med; its Miami and no beach; its mayorca and no disco; uts brasil and no bikini:

I am a giant human with my pretty life and we like to swim

The other night was a Harrison ford worthy Saharan wind storm on the boat:  think ¨the mummy ¨meets ¨home alone¨ : I took some footage of the electric storm that I will post at some point

 sand dumped into the boat and we had to lower the blast shields on the millennium falcon:  we got in our silk sleep sheets and covered our heads:  we laid there; spooning with our eyes closed to keep the sand out; the wind was 50+ mph:  I looked out of the boat and saw our 4 heroes standing ; feet spread with their backs to the wind-sand- lighting -n- thunder -white -squall -Biblical -hurricane;  making sure we were ok:  they slept on the roof but made sure we were comfortable first:

It was easily the most humbling experience of my life:  to realize how insignificant you are and completely put your life in Gods and your keepers hands is an exercise in faith:  it actually wasn’t so bad though for me; because it was African ac that counteracted my previous 48 hours of man sweat

Camping in the dunes is cool, unique;  more stars and not a light in sight

Niger people don’t let nature rattle them because they are nature:  our survivor shows in the US would be comedy hits in Mali:  they wouldn’t understand why there was a tv show about what to them is an every day existence:  they would be like ¨no shit dude¨

We have been openly accepted everywhere we go in this Muslim society:  normally when we arrive to a villqge the chief comes to our boat and helps us dock it whether or not he knows our guides:  this hospitality is a beautiful Malian tradition with its roots in Islam;

I; we; are thankful for Islam:  we believe without this grounded deep belief system that our trip would be a nightmare;  it would be a Hobessian jungle; an every man for hi,self street fight;;; the civility touches us

sept 22 09

we made it to mali after fun days in paris;  hilarious moments here are plenty:  the funniest is our guide and driver who likes to keep his foot on the gas:  i told them the story about in cambodia when i motorbiked the country and couldnt find a helmet to fit my huge noggin and they were rolling: every ti,e we stop they introduce us and then tell the story about my huge noggin to other malians in bambara and the others cry with laughter:  its a huge enjoyment this trip:  we go to timbuktu tomorrow on a boat: 

lots of photos posted so click around:  internet very slow here and keyboards in french: stay tuned

pre trip post

we found our guide alkaye traore on  people had used him in their travels to Mali for Festival au Desert, which is an amazing music festival in Mali held January of each year.  Mali has a music tradition that we are interested in exploring.

essential listening for Mali:
Essential Listening

Most of the leading lights of the Malian music scene have made recordings which are available worldwide. If you're not sure where to start, you can't go wrong with the following selection. 

Toumani Diabaté Djelika (Hannibal / Rykodisc, 1995)
One of Mali's greatest kora players, Toumani Diabaté has recently made big news with his cross-cultural collaborative projects, working first with flamenco group Ketama and then with blues guitarist Taj Mahal. This earlier, more traditional,release, is kora at its best.

Salif Keïta Folon... The Past (Island, 1995)
This stands out among Keïta's excellent catalogue as a showcase for his supremely lyrical vocals. Here he injects classical Maninka melodies with, by turns, lively doses of American funk, Caribbean reggae and Congolese soukous; the result is eclectic, dynamic, and very self-assured.

Habib Koité & Bamada Ma Ya (Virgin / Putumayo, 1998)
Dominated by Koité's own distinctively-tuned guitar and intimate, husky-edged vocals, this is a beautiful album of swaying rhythms and evocative melodies. Koité's lyrics are delicate and reflective, full of wistful celebration of human virtues, tradition and life itself.

Kandia Kouyaté Kita Kan (Stern's, 1999)
The town of Kita in western Mali has produced many outstanding musicians and Kandia Kouyaté, nicknamed "La Dangereuse" for her intoxicating stage presence, is one of its most celebrated (and wealthiest) praise-singers. Here herrich contralto soars over highly original, lushly orchestrated arrangements of traditional Mandé melodies. 

Oumou Sangare Worotan (World Circuit, 1996)
With strident, thought-provoking lyrics, stirring call-and-response female vocals, virtuoso instrumentalism and downright catchy tunes, this shining example of the Wassoulou sound deserves every ounce of the huge acclaim it has received. Worotan means "ten kola nuts", the traditional Malian bride price, and women's rights are a recurring theme.

Ali Farka Touré with Ry Cooder Talking Timbuktu (World Circuit, 1994)
Recorded in three days, this ground-breaking collaboration swept listeners off their feet. It went on to scoop a Grammy award and is an acknowledged classic of African desert blues. 

Rokia Traoré Mouneïssa (Label Bleu / Indigo, 1998)
This, the debut solo album from this young singer-songwriter, marked her out as a talent to watch. Her recent second release, Wanita, is equally beguiling. Traoré's dreamy vocals are accompanied by an innovative combination of balaba (a type of balafon), ngoni and bass.

Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Music of Mali and Guinea (World Music Network, 2000)
The ethnic, linguistic and musical connections between these countries run deep. This new collection provides an uplifting, invigorating introduction to the music of the region, including tracks by Afel Bocoum, Ali Farka Touré, Boubacar Traoré and the Rail Band.

Published in Travel Africa Edition Fourteen: Winter 2000/2001 Text is subject to Worldwide Copyright (c)k.
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austinboston on

Re: thank you
thanks cousin !

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