Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Destination Dreaming # 5

Mythical Mali

Traveling to West Africa would not be a light and easy trip. Choosing Mali as a vacation destination is more about adventure than relaxation. This is the type of trip I should have taken before having a baby, or at least save for when Stella is old enough to be left with the grandparents, or better yet, old enough to be truly interested in experiencing the challenge that adapting to a new culture and environment creates. I do really look forward to exposing her to the rest of the world so that she can have a very real understanding of how different people live their lives and learn that this should not necessarily be defined as better or worse. When you are a North American in a third world country, you learn how easy your life is and how 'lucky' you are to have been born in the Western world. I think this focus on how hard life is without modern conveniences and the amenities we so often take for granted is a mistake. When I travel, I try to always be flexible and to concentrate on the natural beauty of both the surroundings and the people that I meet, and not on the luxuries that are missing. I know it to be true that some forms of poverty do not necessarily equate to unhappiness. I especially appreciate the following entry on Saga Tours website about Culture Shock.

A trip to Mali conjures up romantic ideas of Timbuktu and the original explorers who went on long, arduous and often dangerous expeditions to reach this legendary destination. Even today, a visit would require a stripping away of any preconceived ideas of comfort and accepting the hardships of overland travel in a country that's infrastructure is under developed. I would allow myself to become swept away by the music, like that of Ali Farka Toure, the traditional dances of the Tuareg, and exotic smells in the colorful marketplaces (especially in Djenne), and become entranced and absorbed by a new culture and ancient tribal history. If I chose to explore this country with the help of a tour, it would be one that emphasized exchanges with local people, treks through the Dogon Country and the dunes of the Sahara, long riverboat sailing down the Niger, and simple lodgings, including camping. I particularly like the following Timbuktu Odyssey that can be arranged through Ecotour Africa.

Mantra of the day: Let go, live, learn, and love.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dad painted an abstract image of this very structure this year. It would be interesting to see the two images side by side kind of like the varied perceptions people have on their travels...

11:08 AM  

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