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received only this morning:
"Content to remain in Addis Ababa for a spell, we set about to explore this ancient city with its many wonders. However, an eminent member of our party insisted on pushing on to our ultimate destination: "TIMBUKTOO".
He gleefully announced that a local amateur pilot had agreed to fly us, for a moderate sum of money, to Adrar, in the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria.
From there we would obtain another assortment of these cantankerous dromedaries to cross some 800 miles of the Sahara Desert, southwest to Timbuktoo, in the Republic of Mali. Objections were over-ruled by the will of the majority, so off we went!
After a rather bumpy flight of many stops in remote places and almost three thousand miles across the vast continent of Africa, this ancient flying machine with its daring pilot, thankfully brought us to our destination safe and sound. All necessary arrangements having been made by mid-morning of the next day, we left the hospitable town of Adrar.
The trail went straight toward the south among high, black and bare hills. The ground was strewn with gray boulders. From time to time we passed near a dwarfed, thorn-covered tree, and when the view opened toward the east, we could see the golden dunes in the distance.
There was but one sound, that of the caravan moving ahead. Around it everything was motionless, except for an unceasing swarm of thousands of flies.
Sometimes, very far away, a small green island appeared in the distance against the sky; it swam just above the horizon and touched it without ever reaching it. It was a mirage !
On other occasions, hours apart, we saw a soaring bird, a lonely gazelle, a horseman; elsewhere a solemn and ragged boy with some goats, alone in infinity.
While still in the vicinity of Adrar we crossed an extraordinary region of pink rocks, tiny, strangely jagged stones, speckled in many colours and beautiful as flowers. Being Winter, the weather was cool, the sky incredibly pure.
Upon arrival in Akabli, an Oasis of the Tidikelt region, we saw for the first time, men covered by dark blue veils which masked their faces and covered them completely: THE TUAREGS !
Through the opening of their facial veil, one could see their large black eyes and a tanned skin with a bluish tinge due to the bad dye of their fabrics. They were tall and slight and had a marvelously noble and proud bearing.
Their women were elegant and graceful; their faces uncovered and their carriage had a freedom which was a delight to behold.
As soon as the Tuaregs arrived near the Oasis, they dismounted from their camels, set them free in the vicinity and pitched long, low tents of red leather, whose north and south entrances were wide-open to the drafts.
The days passed uneventfully, until this morning. Stirring, before getting out of my hammock, I feel a burning sting in my leg. I throw back the blanket and discover a large BLACK SCORPION!! I pass a painful day.
Closely allied to the spiders, their aspect is still more repulsive. Were one of the largest scorpions menacingly to creep up against you, with extended claws and its long articulated sharply-pointed tail projecting over its head, I think, despite the strength of your nerves, you would start back, justly concluding that a creature of such an aspect must necessarily come with the worst intentions.
By means of this weapon, even the smallest European Scorpions are able to kill a dog, while the tropical giants of the race inflict wounds that are fatal to man himself. The only means of saving the lives of English soldiers who were stung by those in Egypt, was the amputation of the wounded limb (That was of course in the last century). In this day and age, every seasoned traveller will always have an up-to-date first-aid kit, containing most of the necessary antidotes for any possible insect sting or bite one might encounter in any given area.
Enough of Scorpions!...We must get back to our desert wanderings through Tuareg country, which, incidentally, transcends the political boundaries of many soverign states in the region.
Leaving behind fond memories of the gracious hospitality of the Algerian people, onward we trek across the border into MALI, a center of West African civilization for over 4,000 years.
Malians were granted French citizenship and limited self-rule in 1946. In 1958, the territory became autonomous within the French Overseas Community. In 1959, with French support, the French Sudan and Senegal formed the Federation of Mali, which became independent on June 20th, 1960. Senegal seceded from the federation almost immediately, and Mali became an independent republic on Sept. 22nd, 1960. Modibo Keita was elected the country's first president. A wonderful place indeed to visit!
(The following is a brief excerpt from a very informative article by Victor Englebert in National Geographic Magazine, April 1974) "After love, sugary tea is the sweetest thing in the harsh life of the Tuareg. The nomads drink it ceremoniously, three cups to a ceremony. I think they must be able to smell it brewing from great distances. Almost always in the evenings, visitors materialize from the shadows of the night.
"Peace be unto you" they say quietly. And we wish them the same, and invite them to sit beside us, to savor the tea as one would savor a fine wine.
Evening after evening, the young Tuareg women sing. Their songs praise an ancient war feat, the handsomeness of a boyfriend, or more simply, say, "We have sewn nice clothes".
Incidentally, I am typing this E-Mail by the light of a kerosene lantern, which means that it is time to rest this tired old body and am hoping for a good night's sleep tonight!
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NEXT von Borgengruft Adventure - Stork From Mali