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Sahara

Day 47: Tirelli

Tirelli, Mali 
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Stripping the baobab bark.
Michael Palin - SaharaMade my own minor anthropological discovery this morning. I was behind a bush having a pee in the usual way when I noticed two of the Malian cooks also relieving themselves close by. I was standing. They were kneeling, rendering themselves at once less conspicuous and less affected by the brisk morning breeze. Is this just a desert thing, I wonder? Answers on a postcard please.

Today we strike camp and return to Mopti. Which is probably just as well, as food and water are both running out. I'd been getting quite skilful at washing my entire body in one mug of water, but that's the trouble with camping. Just as you're getting used to it, it's time to go home.

We drive down to Tirelli for the last time. Life goes on and there seems to be no evidence of a wild night. A man is stripping the bark of a baobab tree and slicing it into strips for binding thatch and tying wood. Others are at work on the onion field, vivid green in this bleached landscape. As the village's only cash crop, it's allowed precious supplies of extra water. A small market is set up among the trees.

Above these Thomas Hardyesque scenes rise the red-brown walls of the escarpment, protective and uncompromising at the same time.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 47
  • Country/sea: Mali
  • Place: Tirelli
  • Book page no: 146

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