Visiting the King

When being on a voyage of discovery in Africa, lots of things, especially the unexpected are likely to happen.

Visiting an area that in previous times was known for its huge iron ovens, we decide to pay it a visit to check it out from a touristic point of view. The town hall being closed that day, we are advised by the County Hall to ask the King for permission.

Hairs like straw, clothes that aren’t the cleanest (having been on the road for several weeks already and it being harmattan season), let alone that I am not at all dressed for the occasion. Nevertheless the King was kind enough as to welcome us to his royal quarters.
After several minutes of greetings, he started to tell about the history of the Kingdom, inviting us to ask questions, happily answering them.

Telling the reason of our visit he was delighted to be of help. Of course we would be allowed to visit the site and it not being accessible by car he had immediately ordered one of his citizens to arrange 7 motor taxis.

Returning to the Royal Palais after a nice motor ride and visit, Ibrahim is kind enough to tell us that we have not at all respected the King. We should have taken off our shoes before entering the palace, like everybody else. And we should have presented the King with kolanuts and a small amount of money…

Several pairs of shoes are awaiting their owners at the Royal Palace’s entrance. How come we hadn’t noticed before? We learn quickly, adapting to different local cultures and habits with every border we cross, so this time we act according to the local customs. I notice a faint expression of surprise and appreciation on the King’s face when we enter barefoot.
Receiving our gifts he gratefully supplies us with much more information and proudly poses for a picture with us in his traditional clothes.

Sometimes I tend to forget I’m not only a traveler, but a travel agency owner as well; on a continent that is full of surprises. I may need to adjust my travel outfit a bit..!

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About MoInMali

Monique is the founder of Papillon Reizen, a Mali based travel agency specialized in inspiring journeys in Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. Fair-trade and with a heart for people, environment and culture. Small-scale group journeys as well as family trips and journeys tailored to your wishes. We love to share West Africa's beauty with you and take you on a journey to experience rather than to see. Monique lives in Mali with her Malian partner and shares some of her daily life experiences with you through this blog. For information on Papillon Reizen: www.papillonreizen.com
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