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Jasmine Dispatch

Timbuktu or Bust!

The time has come to strap on my backpack, and head into uncharted territory. After being in Bamako for two weeks, it is time for my first official trek. Now, what could be more perfect than a trip to Timbuktu? Kevin, Abeja and I set off on this journey only a day ago, but it seems we've been gone for a lifetime. For centuries people have referred to far off places as being as far as Timbuktu and now I know why. We left knowing that it would take at least five days to get to Timbuktu, but no amount of planning could have prepared us for the challenge that was before us. This was the plan: From Bamako we would take an eight hour bus ride to a boat in Mopti which would then get us to Timbuktu in two days. OK, sounds easy enough. Yeah, right!

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"We're going to Timbuktu!"
"We're going to Timbuktu!"

So, we arrived an hour early for our bus, thinking we were planning ahead. But, we were sorely mistaken. There were only two seats left--and there were three of us. So, we jumped into the taxi assuming that other buses would be headed in the same direction - how wrong we were. After quite some time and a lot of maneuvering and luck, we finally made it to the boat dock where the big boat would take us to our destination Timbuktu. What is the big boat, you ask? Well, I wouldn't know since it was already fully booked by the time we got there and the next one isn't until NEXT week.

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It may not be a luxury liner but...
It may not be a luxury liner but...
Whatever shall we do? Well, the logical next step is the large canoe! Of course! I mean, why didn't I think of that--ha ha. OK, really this will be a new thing for me. I was definitely not using the large canoe as my mode of transport back in LA. You know what they say, "There is a first time for everything!" So, off we went in search of a "Pinasse," which is Malian for large canoe.

First, we called for reinforcements. We made friends with a group of Italian and Basque travelers and together we found a bargain deal on one of the "Pinasse's." We struck a deal with Mamadou, our new pal, and found out that we would head out in the morning! Yea!

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Another beautiful Malian sunset
Another beautiful Malian sunset
Sleeping on the roof is OK except for the mosquitoes
Sleeping on the roof is OK except for the mosquitoes
As night descended, we found ourselves without a home for the night. Luckily, Mamadou came to the rescue. Hey, that rhymes. I am a poet and I didn't know it. OK, Here I am going off track again and the power could go out at any minute. Focus! Mamadou found us shelter for the night. Well, if you call sleeping on the roof of a mudhouse shelter. But, hey no complaints from me. It could be worse.

Anyway, back to the mudhouse. We got ourselves situated on the roof and dozed off to sleep under the stars. The next morning I awoke, slowly remembering the crazy dream I had the night before. I dreamt I tried to get to Timbuktu--of all the places in the world! Oh, and we just couldn't get there. We tried the bus, we tried the big boat and finally, we found a large canoe. Guess what happened next? We slept on the roof of a Mudhouse and wait, oh wait…ha ha... IT WASN'T A DREAM.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at


Abeja - Contrast of Worlds: My Most Difficult Stage of the Odyssey Journey
Monica - In the Thick of Djenne-Djeno
Monica - Myths and History from Outside the Mosque
Monica - Djenne, Village of Mud

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