The beginning at the end of the world

3 & 4 April 2014 ~ The orange, pink and yellow mud plaster in Oualata is often decorated with white geometric medallion patterns on the outside; the interior walls are often decorated in curly patterns. I’m not sure whether these patterns are of Berber, Arab, or Soninke heritage, but it gives the town an appearance unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere in the Sahara or Sahel. Add in some cow herders walking their animals through town, lots of kids saying “bonjour monsieur!”, and smiling adults, and Oualata feels like a breath of fresh air after the tense atmosphere in Nema.

La Route du Despair

1 – 3 April 2014 ~ The pickup truck’s rear is filled up with fridges, food, furniture, construction materials, a few goats, and who knows what else, until the cargo is more than twice the size of the pickup truck itself… and then some ten people clamber on top of the cargo. I’m about to experience one of those quintessentially Saharan journeys, but I barely notice, let alone feel like taking a photo (I don’t want to do anything that makes it more obvious that I’m a tourist).