Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Africa Diaries: Dogon Country (above)

(If you've missed any of the previous posts about Africa, then you can find them all here)

Both Allison and I had read about the Dogon Country and how incredible it is, and so had arranged for a guide to take us on a 3 day trek through some of the villages.  

Since I was now an experienced toiletier (yes I realise I just made that word up, but it's my blog so I can if I want!), my initial worries about this trek were now mostly gone.  I still had my toilet paper, but after my desert experiences, I felt like I could handle ANY toilet that Africa threw at me.

Hmmmm.... sometimes it's not wise to think that you're better than a continent.  Especially one like Africa.  She didn't waste any time in laughing right back in my face.

Before we continue, I'd like to introduce you to a very common sight in Mali.  

You might think this is a kettle.  You're kind of right.  It's actually the Malian version of toilet paper...well, more like the contents of the kettle are the Malian version of toilet paper.

So, we'd just started our trek, and had stopped at a very small village for some lunch and so our guide could take a 3 hour nap.  The village was perched right at the top of a cliff.

I needed to go to the toilet, so off I went with my toilet paper and the kettle (I'm not really sure why I even took the kettle with me in the first place - I think I just wanted to 'fit in' with the locals - because my pasty white skin and boring clothes weren't clue enough that I wasn't from around there!).

The toilet had 3 walls, a door, no roof and a hole in the middle of the floor.  I could see through the hole that underneath the toilet was a small 'collection area' that opened out into the open air, so the waste could just run down the cliff side.


And very breezy.

Anyway, I did my thing and then tried to clean myself up afterwards.  (If you're not into toilet stories you might want to skip ahead a little since this is kind of yuck).

I wiped and put the toilet paper down the hole.  I wiped again and went to put the 2nd piece of toilet paper down the hole.  Both pieces of toilet paper flew up into the air.  There was a serious updraft happening and my dirty pieces of toilet paper were flying around the cubicle like dancing puppets with grossness smeared all over them.


I very very quickly finished cleaning myself up and then tried to catch the paper to put it down the hole but it just wouldn't stay down.  Every time I caught a piece and stuffed it down the hole it just came back up again.

Yup, that sound that I'd initially thought was the wind was actually manic laughter... from a very smug continent.

And then I had a brainwave.  I grabbed my kettle, caught a piece of paper and used the water in the kettle to weigh the paper down enough to make it go down the hole.


I disposed of the rest of the toilet paper, checked myself for 'dirt' (there was none - Africa isn't that mean) and left the toilet... a lot humbler than when I'd entered.

So after THAT I was ready to get going.

The villages of Dogon Country are above and below a 150km long escarpment (ginormous cliff face) and are surrounded by nothing but stone and dirt, but yet there is still beauty everywhere.

And lots of lots of gorgeousness ...

And the wind at the top of the escarpment is crazy.  That's not product (or anything else) in Allison's hair!

We were privileged enough to witness a Mask dance that a fellow traveler had organised and paid for.  Amazing.

I really wish you were there to see it too, because while these photo's are wonderful, they don't let you feel the ground shaking from the drums and the pounding of the dancers feet.  They don't let you taste the dirt that's been stirred up into the air from the dancing.  And they don't let you smell the sweat and the dirt and the air and the heat and the ... the Africa.  It makes me cry to remember it.  Happy happy tears.


So once again, thanks to Allison for some of the pictures included in this post (though quite a few of them are mine *smug*)

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