Life on the Niger River Shores in Mali.


by Edson Walker

Traveling by boat on the Malian part of the Niger river may not be the best idea for a honeymoon but, in case you're both brave enough, you'll never regret it once you see the full moon...

I went on this journey by myself during the months of September and October 2011. It wasn't going to be a comfortable trip, it may even be one of my hardest, but there's no doubt that today, it's the one that always reminds me of the most incredible memories.

The towns and villages on both shores are always so full of life: people waiving, fishing, bathing, markets, cattle, goats, birds, nomad tribes and hippos of which I unfortunately just heard stories about. There's an inevitable stop on the way to see the ancient city of Timbuktu that. If you are aware the news, you'll know that you won't see as many ancient cultural riches as I still could witness, before the radical Islamist groups destroyed and robed so many of them.

By the end of the day, on boats called “pinasses”, you'll be invited to eat rice cooked in huge pots placed over firewood that burns over few rocks laid on the wooden boat floor. The rice is distributed in different big plates and you sit around the group of men or women and, with your hands, you take a portion that fits in your mouth and eat it. After the last Muslim prayer of the day, you can choose the sac of rice or millet that is still not occupied by anyone and try to have a night full of dreams; not before having the latest thought: “There's still so much wonder in the world”.

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