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Monica Dispatch

Pirogue, a Traditional Boat Ride Up River


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).

Click image for larger view
Monica floating down the Bani River

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.
Click image for larger view
One of Monica's fellow travelers
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...
Click image for larger view
Another gorgeous sunset in Mali
                      Pirogues, like this one,           

                   cross the river on journeys

                  between villages.

        Hear the waves lapping,

           The river flows timelessly.

                          Slowly we cross it.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at


Jasmine - City of Sand
Kevin - All the Way Out in Timbuktu!
Kevin - "Chez Tuareg" - House of Tuareg, A Desert Tea Party
Monica - Contact: A View From the Other Side
Making A Difference - Who Will Mop up Their Mess? Shell and Chevron Wreak Havoc in Nigeria

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