At the end of the laterite and paved section of the road was the village of Djiguibombo ..
which was both an annoyance and a delight in itself.
The annoyance .. and this was probably more to do with our tiredness from the morning's exertions and the intense heat, than any really excessive attempts at coercion .. was that
to the local touts, we were yet more tourists to be fleeced. Arriving at the village car park,
we found a large shelter where we could have cool drinks from their generator-powered cooler. Sadly accompanied by the
hassle of: "You pay for ....." from a gaggle of annoying guides .. instead of the naively hoped and asked-for quiet wander around the village with our driver.
Alaghi, usually a quiet, shy and retiring
sort of guy .. with infinite patience and knowing full well the true local costs of everything .. was getting fed-up with being classed as a tourist amongst his brothers. Especially noting the inflated prices I
was expected to pay everywhere on these tourist routes. Our experiences in other areas and other countries .. had shown us that most of what people along this route were trying to coerce us into paying for, would have
been freely given by a genuine new friend who was proud to show us their lifestyle. A voluntarily given present or a payment afterwards would quite often cause embarrassment and sometimes be refused .. with simply
a request for a copy of the photos if possible, next time we passed.
The high payments that were being demanded up front all along our route .. in true
closed-shop - trade union style
.. was annoying the hell out of both of us !!
At first I refused point-blank to be guided anywhere at any price !
A couple of cold Cokes later .. after cooling down from the temperature outside and my initial
outburst .. I realised that, yes .. these people were poor in monetary terms, they could not be blamed for trying to get as much as possible from the constant tourist invasion of their home villages and after all, I
was just another tourist. Perhaps I had been a bit harsh.
But, by then, a friendly and teasing banter had built up between us and we were invited for a much more modest amount, to join one of
the lads for a look around.
The delight was the photographic opportunity to wander around Djiguibombo***
taking excellent pictures of the buildings ( some with their famous wooden Dogon doors ) and the village's beautiful
Togu-na * ( the bantaba
of the Dogon people ) .. whilst mostly avoiding taking pictures of the people themselves. One picture I did sneak was of a lady sitting right on top of one of the houses, preparing some vegetables for the evening meal. I had looked up and seen the similar silhouettes of her hat and the tip of the roof, initially thinking, Wow .. she must be a sun worshipper or a little deranged, to sit up there in this heat ! At the same moment, she saw my camera aimed at her and a stream of Dogon invective came pouring forth. As I waved an apology, I realised that - far from being a little strange - she was indeed very wise. Protected by her cloth head dress and sitting high up, she was in the only bit of cooling breeze to be had !!
Pardon Madame, for my intrusion .. but your photograph** is superb.
Whilst eager to record these scenes, I
was tinged with feeling unusually awkward at being yet another tourist, invading these good folk's privacy, whilst sadly being unable to make real friends because of the language barrier. I wondered
how I would feel, being constantly stared at by rich strangers, whilst going about my daily life. Probably like a fish in a fish tank.
With not enough time to complete a round trip, over what were
evidently very much rougher roads, we returned to Sévaré the same way as we had come. Poor Banya .. he spent nearly as much time stopping for me to take photographs as he did driving. The picturesque
scenes*** of shapely trees, rocky outcrops, Fula huts, market sites and animals, were just too good to miss.
Factfile 29: If I
had been using normal film, I would probably have been bereft at not having enough with me. As it was, with a large capacity digital card inserted .. I could be indulgent, happily snapping everything I saw in high
quality format, initially giving 1600 x 1200 images which can be magnified on my computer up to 3000 x 2250, without losing clarity. But to avoid
1 megabyte+ download
sizes, the pictures I show during this saga .. are reduced in physical size and set at the maximum 72% resolution quality which computer monitors can display.