UNFIT,FAT AND F@RTING! ONE MANS JOURNEY travel blog

Timbuctou Camel Ride...

Waiting On A Boat......

Tourists.......

Sunset Over The Niger River......

I've Learnt My Place............

Entering Dogon Country.....

What You Looking At.......

Descending Into Dogon Country......Mali

Dogon Breakfast Time.....

Bandigara Escarpment.....

Cliffside Dogon Village....

Dogon Village Speakers Corner......

Ancient Pygmy Burial Site.......

Smiling Before The Descent Into The Dogon Country.....

Would You Believe Vegetarian Sacred Crocodiles.....Dogon Country

Deb Loving Her Picture Being Taken....Love My Dodgy Barnet....

More Terrible Lunchstop Scenery.....Somewhere In Mali

Sign Says It All..........

Relaxing Breakfast Of Dogon Donuts....

Old Dogon Village....

Dogon Country....

A Couple Of Dogon Trekkers....

A Couple More....

Another View Over Dogon Country...

Dogon Grain Stores...

Dogon Village With Burial Chambers In Background....

Open Air Sleeping Arrangements.....

Another View Of Dogon Country.

Deb Always Loved A Bloke With A Dodgy Barnet.....

Enjoying A Cold Beer In Downtown Ougadougou........

Tuareg........

Door Timbuctou Style....

Ahhh,Camel Toe....

Chris Tuareg Style..........

Camels........


Visa stops,the bane of an overland travellers life, especially after a good month in the desert where all of us have been dreaming of the white sandy beaches of Ghana for christmas.....

Sunny Ougadougou,Burkina Faso is the current visa stop where we are seeking the stamp in our passports to allow us into the promised land called Ghana.Amongst the group over the past month of sweat dirt and toil,Ghana has been built up to be the place where everything our hearts desire will be available and of course they speak english which believe me after 2 months of trying to make myself understood using my franglais,I'm looking forward to telling touts and hustlers to fark off in my native tongue.....

Anyway time to try to recap whats been going on in the unfit,fat and f@rting journey for the past couple of weeks.....

Firstly after a month of hard graft,very hot temperatures and more importantly lack of beer the first 2 parts of the title have changed.Suprisingly after continous sandmatting,digging and sweating my ring out I've slimmed down to my old fighting weight of about 74 kg (for you non metric types thats about 160 pounds) from a pre travel departure weight of 82kg.Now I'm not sure that was in the brochure when I signed up for the trip ie. lose weight fast the Truck Africa sandmatting way but it sure does get the excess weight of you when coupled with a tinned food vege diet for almost 2 weeks...

Secondly I got to discover just how much I really despise prickles.Now I'm not talking about your run of the mill everyday garden variety I'm talking about the pain in the @rse(for some a pain in the front door region also if you were unlucky enough to get one there) big fark off b@stard type that no matter how much you tried to get them out of your clothing or to remove them from where they had embedded themselves in your skin they somehow still managed to leave a bit of themselves in you for a later time.A month after we left the sandmatting,prickle infested border crossing epsisode all of us are still finding the mongrels in socks,shoes,clothes and unfortunately for me the other night my sleeping bag.Its got to a stage now where if we bush camp the first question asked is "Any prickles" and if the reply is no its all clear there is a shout of delight from us all.....

Thirdly we are now 2 members less in the group which leaves us with the grand total of 9 people on the truck (including Chris and Emily the drivers extrodinaire).To say there is plenty of room in the truck for us who are left would be a big understatement in fact the truck is now very spacious indeed.Of course the departures ment a reorganising of the cook groups etc but that has all gone very smoothly even though I'm now stuck cooking with the resident vegetarian which luckily for me I'm used to after my time living in England with Claire although trying to get my new cook partner to go anywhere near meat might be to those who know her a difficult proposition, with some coaxing the other night I was assisted in the making of beef kebabs whereupon my cooking partner even placed meat on the skewers,all be it with a very large fork....(nb;I will get in the poo for putting that in)......

So from my sort of last update in Bamako a couple of weeks back we headed to Djenne which has the largest mud strutcture in the world (I think but I could be very wrong as although I am one for remembering alot of very useless info some of the info I should be retaining eg,left foot then right foot then left foot,wipe to the back not the front,don't eat yelow snow etc....escapes me).It was a very impressive sight indeed which hopefully the photos I took can do justice.Also in Djenne I took the opportunity of actually paying for a haircut for the first time in 10 years.Now those of you who know me will be very shocked by that I know,especially after the dodgy barnets I've been giving myself but let me tell you the bloke who cut my hair was a man after my own heart.To start with I had to select the style I wanted from the poster (see photo) which you thought would be an easy thing to do but as all the styles where from 80's style hip hop haircuts that proved somewhat of a problem.Now if there was the style like the little kid from Musical Youth who sang the old classic "Pass the Douchie Down the Lefthand Side" I would have snapped it up in an instant or even the Eddie Murphy style from the first Beverly Hills Cop film but the selection was a not quite to my taste.Don't get me wrong the Will Smith look circa Fresh Prince of Bel Air is a good look but not on a pasty faced ginger bloke.So I closed my eyes and pointed at a picture which resulted in me having the shortest haircut I've ever had in my life in fact I don't think the hair on my face has been that short.Luckily with the aid of my digi camera and Deb standing there p1ssing herself laughing or making a sort of oh my god type of sound when the bloke was cutting chunks out of hair,I got the impression that it was going to be a special moment in my dodgy haircut life.I did save one photo which I put on for comedy value and to remind me that no matter how many dodgy basin cuts I give myself over the forthcoming years I will never manage to repeat the effort of the bloke from Djenne......

After our outing in Djenne we boarded a boat for a cruise up the river to Mopti.Now this was the first time alot of us actually felt like we were on a holiday as all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the scenery of an afternoon on the river while of course having sundowners and not having to cook or clean dishes or any of the usual things we have to do.We bushcamped on the riverbank for that night,which involved a lovely opportunity for a wash in the river which let me tell you was nice after only having 1 cup of water to wash in per day for almost 2 weeks but on the downside the river resembled the Murray River mouth after the barrages have been opened which for those of you who haven't seen that just go outside get a bucket of water and add 1 part shite to 2 parts mud that'll give you an idea of what it looked and smelled like.Apparently where we camped there was also a shark sighting which proved a bit scary for one of our group and p1ss funny for the rest of us.We reached Mopti the next day at lunchtime after pulling into a few riverside villages which were an experience but all of us felt as if we were intruding on the villagers lives which is ironic considering whenever we make camp or stop the locals just wander up and stare at us for ages which now we are all used to our lives being intruded upon.We met up with the truck in Mopti then headed off towards Bandigara for the Dogon Country trek.......

After spending the night at a funky little Rasta run hostel in Bandigara where the fantastic sleeping arrangements were a mossie net on the roof where sleeping to the beat of various reggae tunes is a pretty good way to get yourself off to the land of nod(that and half a dozen big bottles of Castel,Mali's favourite brew), 6 of us headed off to commence the trek through the Dogon country.

The Dogon trek involved 3 days of trekking or casual strolling in my case,down the Bandigara escarpment and through the various villages that dot the escarpment.We walked for about 60 kms in total over the 3 days with the nights spent sleeping on the roofs of the villages we would stumble wearily into tired,sweaty and stinking desperately in need of a cold beer.On the first day of the trek I made the comment that I don't mind a bit of a casual stroll as long as there is a lovely cold,soothing ale at the end of it.Now this comment was made purely in jest as getting down into the base of the escarpement involved a near vertical descent in some places and to me the last thing you'd want to lug down there is a crate of lovely lovely Castels.So you could imagine my response when we reached our first place to stay and we were asked if we would like a beer.If you guessed something along the lines of "does Pinochio have splinters in his wanking hand" then you'd be correct.....

So the routine of the trek involved us getting up at day break,even though most of us were always woken about 4 o'clock by the noisiest b@stard roosters you could ever imagine.These soon to be chicken dinners would just go on and on and on with there cock a doodle doing.I started to think they were taking the p1ss when they all started to crow as if they were singing a Mariah Carey number although they were far less screechy than Mariah could ever hope to be.After a breakfast of big Dogon donuts and coffee we'd generally have a bit of a poke and a fiddle around the village we stayed in trying not to get abused by any of the villagers for taking photos of them without permission.This you would think was an easy task but those bl00dy villagers could hear a camera being warmed up from a mile away and were almost as quick to berate you for taking a picture as they were to ask for money to let you take a picture.Irony in its truest form,"how dare you take a picture of me you pale Tuvavu??(what we have been called throughout Mali and Burkina Faso by the locals which basically means poor white man),don't you know its against my culture and you will take away my soul etc etc etc"" one second which is quickly followed by "for 1000 cfa's you can take my picture and I'll gladly burn in whatever hell my god chooses".

Ok this may sound a bit harsh to some of you and down right bl00dy cynical to others me writing this but by this stage every time we stopped or set up camp or even when trying to lay a cable in the bush,there'd be someone there within seconds watching you or trying to sell you a worthless piece of crap passed off as authentic souvenirs or just basically standing right there in the way.To say that it really started to get on our t1ts would be putting it mildly,in fact just after we finished the trek for the first time I told one of the souvenir sellers "Fark Off" in English.Up to this point I asked them politely in French to please move aside so we could set up our camp or cook our food or breathe without having a piece of cloth or carpet or beads etc shoved in our face but this pr1ck really pushed it too far following me on my very difficult task of finding beer for the truck all the while banging on about the poxy trinket he was trying to sell.This proved a little bit too much for me especially after the beer shop man wouldn't cash in our empties so the point of my anger was directed at this w@nker who to be fair to him did what was asked and very quickly......

Anyway sidetracked yet again,we'd trek throught the cool hours of the day,as it was a balmy 36 degrees by midday so any movement between 12 and 3 pm would be very very stupid indeed.So lunch followed by a lovely siesta for a couple of hours was taken between those hours.When it had cooled down a bit we'd head off for the final part of the day to our next place of rest.

We had a guide for the trip who was a local fella called Grand Pere or GP to everyone who knew him,who was somewhat of a one man Malian Tourist industry.Everywhere we went from Bamako to Djenne to Mopti to Timbuctou and especially in Dogon country all the locals knew him.For us it was a bit of a gods send as most of the people who knew him would help us out or just generally stop people from giving us hassle.GP himself on the Dogon trek took no shit from the touts and the kids who would swarm us at every given opportunity.The big stick he carried generally stopped the kids short in there shouts of "Cadeaux" or "Bon Bon" and if that didn't work he'd tell them in their native tongue to piss off and stop hassling the tourists or they will refuse to come back and your families will not get any money from tourism.Maybe a bit harsh on his part but it certainly did work.

After the Dogon Trek we all decided to head up to Timbuctou in the truck which for me brought back nightmares of sandmatting all the way there and back as if you are like me ever since I was a little fella, Timbuctou has been synonomous with being out in the middle of nowhere.In fact more like a couple of hundred kms past the middle of nowhere chuck a left and keep going.

So to our amazement and disappointment Timbuctou proved a very easy journey, apart from a blown tyre, on a graded but very potholed and dusty road.

Timbuctou itself was a bit disappointing,not exactly what I thought it would be but for a town that has the Sahara desert gradually enclosing it I suppose it was justifiably not what I expected.Someone did say that people go to Timbuctou expecting streets paved with gold but end up finding dusty tracks filled with sh1t.Pretty good description me thinks.

So after the usual tourist crap of camel rides in the desert at sunrise,visiting the museums etc and of course buying the t-shirt we headed off for a couple of days dusty drive to Ougadougou in Burkina Faso to get our magical Ghana visas.......



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