One Day in Timbuktu

2005 > Mali

Now I’ve been here. Have you?

morning rest
I will race ya!
kinda close there
Ian gets shorn
What do you at sunrise in Timbuktu? You could pray to Allah in the direction of Mecca. You could play football with the locals. Or you could go for a run in the Sahara. I chose the latter.

Around Timbuktu I ran, checking out the quality mud houses, stick houses, even animal skin homes that populate Timbuktu’s suburbs. There isn’t much to them, or the sand roads between them, and once they end, and they do end soon, its all Sahara. There isn’t an end to the Sahara.

It is the border of the town, it is in the town, it defines Timbuktu (or Tombouctou as the locals call it) for what it is, an oasis in the Sahara Desert. And I am here, running around the neighborhood like its Washington DC.

The local Tureg stare, gawk, and shout, but less than I would expect. Apparently there are plenty of toubob here, they have seen white people before, and it is only me running that strikes them odd. Not running per see, because there is a Timbuktu running club, which I found on my morning jog, but it’s a local running club. I am only unique because I am a toubob and running in their neighborhood.

After that run, and breakfast, then its time to shop. It will not take you long, as the Grand Market isn’t so grand and the Artisit Mission isn’t very artistic. I saw better and bought more in Bamako. That’s the real Grand Market of Mali. This is just an oasis if you want to buy desert rock salt.

In the afternoon you can have a good couscous and mutton lunch and then retire to your hotel. Now that doesn’t mean sleep. It means its time to get a haircut. Right in the middle of the Sahara, may present Salon Coiffure du Sahel.

Barber Mohammed Maig trims and snips right on the hotel patio, by the shade of a tree and with hand-powered trimmers and old-fashioned scissors. Reminiscent of a haircut and beard trim I had in Denpasar, my co-worker Ian is undergoing his own street trim.

Me, I am typing up the experience while a troop of street kids watch fascinated. They don’t know what is more interesting; a toubob on a laptop, a toubob getting a haircut, or a third toubob photographing the other two toubobs.

3 Comments on “One Day in Timbuktu

  1. Running around the world, are you? Thanks for sending the interesting e-mail from Timbuktu, the legendary city.

  2. Fascinating couple of weeks have gone by, Wayan! Thanks for the almost-daily entries. Bring back a beer for me, will ya? :^)

  3. You must be used to this kind of life since you’ve been there for quite a long time.
    So nice to see your coleague having a real haircut.He seems to be feeling unconfortable.I think next time when he remembers his laptop,the hair kit should be the next thing before thinking about the cable for the laptop.
    Remember you are in a place where most of the things are done manually because the west refused to do direct,fair trade with that continent so as to boost their economy.I think the west is clever !If they did it,and the economy boosted,everyone able to drive the convertibles,then who’d be the ‘BOSS’?
    But to be honest,whatever means and energy plus time used,at the end of the day the hair is cut and Ian’s problem solved,Iznit?
    Such is life down where you are man.And surprisingly,they still keep that genuine smile on their faces.God knows for sure.
    Enjoy dear.