Road Back From Timbuktu, Mali, Nov 13 - 14, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Since we arrived in Timbuktu by boat and left by road (mostly), I think it's appropriate to call it the road from Timbuktu rather than the road to Timbuktu.  Either way, though, I can now say I've been to Timbuktu and back.  We returned to the ferry port on the Niger River we arrived at a few days before and waited in line for at least an hour for a small crowded ferry that could carry a maximum of three trucks.  There were quite a few foot passengers on the ferry too, including several young women with whom members of my group got into a conversation.  They were breast feeding their babies who quickly became the center of everyone's attention.  One woman (rather naively) asked some of the younger female members of my group if they'd like to nurse the babies too. 
The day's drive south was through a scrubby, sandy, burnt-looking landscape where we saw only a few Fulani nomads and their cattle herds and a couple small settlements of mud and branch huts.  Meanwhile, the unpaved road for most of the distance was some of the worst corrugated washboard I've experienced anywhere, making for a very dusty and bumpy ride, one especially unpleasant because of the scorching heat.  Our campsite for the night was at a spot near a towering rock escarpment with low brush, dry grass, and acacia thorn trees that had one of those "Authentic Africa" feels about it. 
We continued on the next morning and arrived in Savare around noon, the same town and campement near Mopti we stayed at six nights earlier.  Rather than walk into town in Savare where there was little to see or do, I spent the afternoon around the campsite napping and relaxing since I slept very poorly the previous night. 
It was in Savare that Ben, the co-driver on the tour for the seven weeks from Dover, made a final decision to leave the trip to attend to family matters back home, so we had a small goodbye party for him in the evening at the campement bar.  I was very sad to see Ben leave since he had probably become my best trip buddy over the seven weeks since we started in Dover.  Ben was a mechanical engineer by profession before he decided to travel the world as a Dragoman driver and someone with a quirky sense of humor and the engaging intellect usually only found among people who have traveled as extensively as he had.  I truly missed his presence and company in the weeks that followed.

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