Timbuktu and back
Trip Start Dec 29, 2009
14Trip End Mar 10, 2010
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While in Timbuktu we got our passports stamped with a Timbuktu stamp and i waLKED AROUND FOR AGES waiting for the stamp to dry. Ali kept asking me to put it away but I didnt want it to smudge! It cost enough. Timbuktu itself is dry dusty and decidedly hot. We had temperatures of around 46 in the shade. We visited the old mosque where the next day there was a stampede and around 40 people got killed. Not sure if that made world news. We also went to the old biblioteque opposite where the guide gave the whole talk in French and told me off for wandering off to look at 13th century Islamic manuscripts before he had finished despite his french being so fast I couldnt keep up. The city tour was interesting but as i said hot, dusty and a little bit menacing too. We went to the salt market as the Touregs still cross the Sahara taking 3 months on their camel to trade in the huge salt tablets each one weighing 500 kilos. Didnt feel it necessary to buy one though my box of souvenirs is constantly growing. Where will I put them all?
The drive back took a couple of days as we had to catch up with the truck as it had been on the move while we were driving in the opposite direction. All went well and then we got a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere just as the sun was setting. It was okay as we had a spare but the driver couldnt get the old tyre off. He bashed at it for ages and it gradually got dark. I had asked him to stop so I could photograph the dead donkeys on the road - photographic licence to snap donkeys ribcage on the road to Timbuktu - well I thought it a good idea at the time but in the dark I kept thinking was it to become our fate. Then the driver spotted a lorry coming. Normally they wont stop but someone was smiling at us as the driver of the lorry had once been his apprentice and he loaned us different wheel brace and we got to our camp in time for a shower and meal. Yet more couscous and tomato and veg sauce!!!! Yes it sounds lovely but a diet of nothing else gets you dreaming of salad!!!!!!!!!!
We kept the costs down by taking the cheapest option of sleeping on hotel roofs - flat I hasten to add - and with temps of 30 plus throughout the night a much better option than non air conned rooms. I have found out to my cost that an upgrade to an air conned room often doesnt pay as the electricity goes off at 1 am to come on again at around 6am. And what could be better than to sleep under the stars with the call to prayer as the alarm the next morning? I got so used to it that when we joined the truck we had a couple of bushcamps ie just in the middle of nowhere and I chose to sleep on my mattress with my mossi net over me and didnt bother with the tent. Pity I chose the night when the moon was full - could barely sleep for the 100 watt bulb shining in my eyes.
Anyway enough for now. Lots more to tell but will soon be in Dakar and I can internet to my hearts content.
Take care all of you and send me your best wishes. I need them as this group are trying me to my absolute limits. More of that in my next email. Its time I gave vent to my horrible side.