Mali

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Timbuktu, Mali held my fascination for decades; it has a romantic name. Upon my arrival, four men followed me into my hotel room telling me that I must check in with the police and to follow them. I was in an abandoned convent (older section of the hotel) and alone with these four men. This set the stage for my entire trip in Mali; I had to watch my backside even while sleeping.

I did find the police department and a young Tuareq man willing to take me into the desert for a few days to meet his family; they were traveling from the salt mines in a large caravan of camels, tents, cooking utensils, and rugs for sleeping. The beginning of my desert adventure started with the boy wanting me to remove my hiking boots to ride the camel. I hesitated for a while wondering how I would continue my travels without my boots, assuming he wanted to steal them. I shook my head, “no” as he kept pointing to the boots and then the back of the camel’s saddle.  I finally realized that one way or another he would get the boots so I gave in and he tied them to the back of the saddle. He then pointed to my feet showing me that pushing on the camel’s neck helps guide the camel as there are no reins like on a horse.

The Tuareqs treated me with respect, while graciously accepting me into their nomadic homes. One night, a plane flew overhead and the young boy drew a picture of a bird in the sand. I shook my head and drew a picture of an airplane. His hesitation was obvious as he approached the airport with me on my return and I pointed to the planes taking off.  He sat on a sand dune and watched me walk inside that magical bird.

Jackie Chase

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Jackie's books and prints can be purchased from Adventure Travel Press. The books are available in eBook, full color paperback  and B&W paperback value editions. The prints are available as 8x10, 11x14 and 16x20. The eBooks and full-color paperback editions are also available at Amazon.