Between Books aka Wallowing in Author Limbo

Latest novel published – sigh of relief.

Holiday in Mexico – brain reduced to mush in the heat.

Back home – routines restored.

Time to think of starting a new book, ie procrastinate.

And procrastination leads to sorting through old photos which leads to this blog.

Much of Whispers Under the Baobab is set in West Africa in 1970, and among my pictures I found a few I had taken back then that will give you a glimpse of what Flo saw and experienced as she fled across the Sahara to safety in Bamako.                                                                      Click here for more information.

Here is the only picture I still have of the 14th century mosque in Tombouctou, destroyed by Islamists in 2012.

From Tombouctou, Flo and Josef traveled by boat – the General Sumaré – down the Niger River. Flo was on the second level and was able to go up on the top deck to view the surroundings. Josef, on the main deck would not have had that luxury.

When the General Sumaré beached on a sand bar, the women and children were taken to shore in these pirogues. They are propelled by pushing poles into the river bed and walking along the side of the boat. Back in 1970, goods were transported hundreds of kilometers from Guinea to Mali in these (heavily loaded) pirogues powered by man.

Nearing Bamako, this is what the terrain looked like with calabashes growing in the fields.

The Tuareg ring that Flo bought on her journey and wore on a leather thong.

 

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What’s that I hear? Adventures in Tombouctou

Mosque

“I hear something. Turn on the light.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“I’m telling you, there’s something in our room.”

“It’s your imagination. You watch too much TV.”

They’re in Tombouctou. They’ve toured the town, seen the mosque and market, and the water hole which looks like an inverted cone with maybe a pail or two of water way down there. How do the people survive? Yes, the Niger River is just a few kilometers to the south, but still….

“I still hear something. Turn on the light.”

“If you want the light on, you turn it on.”

“The switch is on the wall by you.”

With a heavy sigh, she crawls out of bed and reaches for the switch. “Oh, my God! Look!”

The room is crawling with insects. Big and small they swarm over the walls. Some are feeding on others. There’s no mosquito netting to build a fortress, to tuck securely around the mattress. Hell, a mosquito net wouldn’t do anyway.

They scramble wildly for clothes, shoes, and blankets and escape to the relief of the cool night air. They settle in arm chairs on the hotel terrace with the added security of the staff sleeping on the ground nearby. Wrapped in the blankets, they hear the howling of the Harmattan winds, unaware of the sand dunes building over them.

Burrowing out from under those dunes in the morning, they discover that ears, eyes, nose—every body crevice, and pore plugged with grains of sand. Little dunes of sand form in the bottom of the shower stall for days after.

But, hey, they can say they’ve been to Tombouctou.