To Timbuktu and Back


I am back from the Festival in the Desert. My friend Josh arrived on January 5th, and the next morning at 5am we got on the bus and headed towards the Sahara. My friend Seydou warned us that it would be a long trip, but holy moly, it was a very long and bumpy bus ride. We ate meals out of baskets on top of ladies heads, who huddled around the windows of the bus whenever it stopped, selling peanuts and muffins. We read books out loud, and tried to talk to the people sitting around us, resorting to laughter when nothing verbal could be exchanged. At 10PM, the bus came to a halt in Duanza, where we slept in an overpriced guesthouse. I was grumpy, because there is nothing I dislike more then paying to much money for a guesthouse.

The next morning, the real fun began. We took an extremely full Jeep into the desert on a dusty track was not on the radar of whoever made my very detailed map of Mali. We bumped along for a few hours, and then… The wheel fell off of the car. I was in the left hand passenger seat, and it was the wheel that was about 6 inches from me. We got out and looked at the car, took note of the halved axel, and then started hitchhiking. I felt a pang of white guilt when we got picked up immediately while our 7 or 8 jeep mates sat down to wait it out.

Some cheerful Finnish boys saved the day, and we spent the rest of the ride to Timbuktu with them. We crossed the niger river in a ferry boat, and continued to the festival.

The festival in the desert is an incredible experience. It is a musical event hosted by the Tuaregs, an ethnic group of desert nomads who have been the only people to survive living in the harsh conditions of the Sahara for centuries.

The site seems to grow out of the sand dunes, a carnival in a place that is otherwise silent and dark at night.

Malian music superstars, traditional Tuareg musicians, and international guests appeared on stage for three days. I danced myself into a tizzy every night. During the day I started my hunt for exceptional Malian artists and did my first four interviews.  We made plenty of incredible friends, and I felt like I was leaving home when we had to say goodbye, and head back down the dusty track to BaPout how to get these little videos uploaded, and hunting for incredible artists. Let the next chapter begin…



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3 responses to “To Timbuktu and Back

  1. Liza

    Amazing saga ..hold your wheels !

  2. Debbie Kaye

    Go, Maria! I admire your capacity for adventure.

  3. Brett Poirier

    Maria – I am there with you and your stories. What an adventure…and it is just beginning. What are the temperatures like there – hot and dry? I guess that is sort of a “duh” question, which you probably don’t have time to answer anyways. Bonne chance!

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