Mali Stories and Tips

Day 09 - Finally a Day of Peace and Quiet

Rise and Shine Photo, Mali, Africa

I was not quite sure what to expect on my trip to the Sahara. I had originally hoped to ride camels TO Timbuktu, so I was not planning to take a ride into the desert on a camel. After the 3-hour ride the previous day, I had no idea what was in store for me in the desert. Perhaps see Toureg villages? Perhaps ride all day? I wasn't sure.

I woke up and found my Toureg guide building a fire right in front of my feet. As I sat in my sleeping bag, he prepared tea for us, and then we ate a bread breakfast. Luckily, I brought oranges and the Aussies brought dates for us to eat, too. After eating, a group of three traveling Toureg salesmen stopped to try selling us souvenirs. We all declined.

After breakfast, the Toureg guide tracked down the camels and put on their saddles, and then we began riding farther out into the desert. We began our ride at 9am, and by noon we were off the camels and resting in the shade. As expected, the Sahara sun is extremely hot. It is dangerous to ride in such direct, intense heat for a long time. Under the shade of a small desert tree, we ate a meal of pasta, then napped, admired the amazing silver ants (seriously, they look like metal ants), and napped some more.

After napping in the shade for 5 to 6 hours, the Toureg guide went searching for the camels. Luckily, they had not wandered far, and we were soon back on the camels. At this time it was nearing sunset. We rode for 3 hours, saw the sun set, and then rode under stars. It is amazing to know that I rode on a camel in the Sahara under the stars.

Out of nowhere, a small Toureg camp appeared. This was the place we'd be spending the night. After a round of tea, a meal of pasta with goat meat (and sand, of course), and another round of tea, the Aussie who spoke French began conversing with the Touregs. They explained to us that the salesmen who had stopped at the camp in the morning were not true Touregs, because true Touregs do not sell souvenirs. He, of course, was a true Toureg. About 20 minutes later, this same Toureg was then trying to sell his pipe to the Aussies. So, does that make him not a true Toureg?

Like the previous night, it did not get too cold in the desert, and I slept outside my sleeping bag.

If you think spending a weekend home and relaxing on a couch watching TV is relaxing, you have obviously never been to the desert. Napping in the middle of the desert, with absolutely no noise, no worries, and no rush to do anything is (by far) the most relaxing state you can be in. Though I wasn't sure what to expect at the beginning of the day, I found that day in the Sahara to be one of the most relaxing days of my life.

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