Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

lundi, mars 12, 2007

Funeral Celebration (Bala, Burkina Faso)

Hands pounding on the djembés (drums) never slowed as women, packed tightly together, danced in a huge circle, slowly traveling in a counterclockwise direction. Just inside the circle, two men with drums under their arms walked clockwise as they beat their drums with a mallet-like stick. Rhythms began slowly with the dancers swaying and sometimes chanting and then the drummers increased intensity carrying the dancers into a full-bodied frenzy.
I had an amazing seat for this funeral celebration. Sitting under a mango tree heavily laden with ripening fruit, I was on a bench alongside the djembé players. Night had fallen and the dancing intensity was increasing. The villagers had gathered to celebrate the passing of a respected member of the community. This celebration took place approximately 100 days after his death and he was represented tonight by his brother who was dressed in the deceased clothes. Festivities, which appeared to include many liters of dolo (the local home-brewed millet beer), were rumored to continue for the following week.