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Sahara

Day 46: Tirelli

Tirelli, Mali 
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With Amadou, my guide, and assorted family members in the headman's compound. Thatched-roofed granaries in the background.
Michael Palin - SaharaThis morning I'm invited to lunch with Dogolu, the headman. He lives, with two wives and thirty dependents, in a labyrinth of buildings surrounding a precipitous, rocky courtyard. Such is the verticality of Tirelli that one side of their house is about 20 feet higher than the other. Dogolu squats on a rock and talks as the women prepare the meal. Life is not as confined here as it appears to be. Of his nine children, some are studying in Bamako, while others are married and living separately.

The ingredients for lunch are certainly fresh. Most of them are still running around the yard when we arrive. Calabashes full of water are being brought up from the well and millet is being pounded by three girls working pestles taller than themselves. It can take an hour or more of backbreaking work before the millet grain is sufficiently pulverised and the girls ease the laborious process by working in time to a soft, rhythmic chant.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 46
  • Country/sea: Mali
  • Place: Tirelli
  • Book page no: 143

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