Dogon Country and Djenné road trip

Ibrahim's grandmother enjoying our visit

Ibrahim’s grandmother enjoying our visit

‘That’s mine’, she stated with naughty twinkling eyes, snatching another piece of chicken. I can’t help laughing out loud. There’s no doubt about it, Ibrahim’s grand mother is clearly enjoying the macaroni and chicken dinner.

Time flies, and even though it didn’t feel that long ago, it had been almost a year since visiting the family in Dogon Country and even longer since I had set foot in Djenné. For Ibrahim it’s different. He sees family and friends in Dogon and Djenné on a regular basis when traveling with clients.

Taking a few days off and setting out on a road trip was just what I needed. It not only offered the chance to see family and friends, to renew my visa and to relax, but also to enjoy our recently bought car.
I like the adventure of public transport, but honestly it can take a loooooooooot of time in Mali and a sweaty and dusty trip is guaranteed this time of year. Traveling by car was a very pleasant change. No rush to leave the house in the morning, stops along the way and still arriving in Dogon Country the same day.
We ended up traveling with a private escort, stumbling upon a corporal needing a lift to Sévaré. A humble man, a gentle soul and equally a very clear and brave man willing to do what needs to be done for a better future of his country. He shared some stories about the past few years and expressed his sadness about the locals in the North being too fearful to share information with the army.
‘If only they would help us, we could do so much more for them and for our country’, the corporal told us. He has no doubts about the strength of the Malian army. ‘We can do the job, if only we were allowed to. Malian solders are the best’, he proudly added, ‘we can do up till 72 hours without food, we can work on little water, no matter what quality and we have the courage to fight for our country.’
It is great to know he’s out there in the North, planting the seeds of change.

I loved being in Dogon Country again, to sleep under the stars and to see Ibrahim’s family. Most of all his grandmothers of course. Both of them are over 80 and still going strong.  They stem from times when the day of birth wasn’t registered, so it’s guessing about their true age.
Last year one of them had asked for a solar powered torch, and we had decided to buy a few more for other family members as well. Such a joy to see they are enjoying using their Waka Wakas!
Umbere and Angelie have always lived in Dogon Country, leading a traditional village life, including the traditional Dogon food, based on locally grown millet. We were warmly invited to share some tô (traditional Dogon dish), but decided to treat them on a macaroni and chicken meal instead. The old ladies instantly turned into young girls giggling from joy. Ibrahim’s worry that they would not be able to eat chicken without teeth, proved to be absolutely unnecessary.

After a few days with friends, family and lots of sleep, we got back in the car, destination Djenné. One of our good friends had recently gotten married. We hadn’t been able to join the festivities, but had promised to step by and share a meal. Tion Tion of course, a regional dish!
It was great catching up with all of our friends and guides in Djenné, and of course we grabbed the chance to gather information about upcoming events. Djenné is preparing its first festival. It is said to become a mix of music, culture and tradition, such as mask dances. Can’t wait to hear more about it!
And… the village elders are discussing dates for the annual plastering. Nothing confirmed yet, but most certainly in April!

Our arrival in Ségou was blessed with rain.
Hello Niger River, home sweet home!

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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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