Follow along my "River" of thoughts as I attempt to re-capture the essence of my trip down the Bani River in a pirogue (PIH-ROAG) guided by my friend Alliye (AL-LEE-YEH).
Life on the river-- the pirogue swirls lazily through muddy water. Alliye tells me, "Listen!" to cattle lowing... they graze on the banks. I smell the green grass and gaze at the high blue sky. A sense of peace here. The River Bani near the mud-village, Djenne, on the Niger's banks. Donkeys cross the bridge. Women, baskets on their heads walk to the market. They walk from nearby Bobo and Fulani towns three kilometers away. Bringing sacks of grain, or cloths to the Grand Marche, they stroll, hips swaying.
We continue past under the bridge, around the bend in the river. For navigation, Alliye dips a long pole into the water. He hits bottom, and... slowly, the pirogue moves up...... against the current. Alliye, eighteen comes from Djenne. He's lived near the river always. He knows how to fish for the capitaine that swim through the murky depths. He can balance well on the shaky pirogue that almost overturns. Five of us sit here. Camille guides us on our trip. Alliye in front. Then, in the middle Miranda, Alex and me, A boatman stands, steers...
Pirogues, like this one, cross the river on journeys between villages. Hear the waves lapping, The river flows timelessly. Slowly we cross it.
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Monica - Contact: A View From the Other Side
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