Wednesday, August 6
By the time I disembarked in Timbuktu (click here to see where it is on a map) on Monday afternoon, I was no longer traveling on my own, but in a group of five.
My latest posse included two Americans, a Brit and a German. The latter two were traveling alone like me, but had teamed up two weeks ago in Mauritania.
After dropping our bags at the house of a young Malian guide who lets travelers sleep at on his terrace for cheap, we set off to explore Timbuktu. We saw the post office, the mosque and a monument or two, but quickly discovered what other toubabs had warned. Ed, an English university student, was the first to say it out loud: “There’s nothing to do in Timbuktu.”
Nothing that is, except ride on a camel, which the five of us did the following day. Turns out it’s quite uncomfortable, but makes for great photos.
We rode the camels to a nearby village, which consisted of three huts and a water pump, and we spent most of the day under a tent avoiding the hot sun. Lunch was included in the trip, but it was a sore disappointment: sandy rice with bits of something we surmised was goat stomach. Only two of us — myself not included — could choke it down.
We had hoped to return to Timbuktu at sunset, figuring the setting of the desert sun would be beautiful. But we got something better: a sandstorm!
The sky began to turn orange and suddenly we were in the middle of the storm. I was working hard to keep my face covered, but I managed to get a few shots of our hurried ride back to the city.