Baking in Mali

‘Bloody hot’, it’s a sweltering Australian summers day in southern Victoria. Izzy the dog and I are trying to keep ourselves cool with the air-conditioner sitting on 26 degrees. It’s better than the 40 degree temperature outside.  This morning we were swimming imaginary laps together in Westernport Bay, it was glorious.

I put some washing on the line a few minutes ago and Izzy looked at me to say ‘are you really being serious’ when I invited her to join me outside. It was when I was outside that I decided that heat would play a part in my blog today. This hot weather reminds me of the temperatures in Mali West Africa. I’m actually wearing a tunic that I purchased in Timbuktu, perfectly designed in cool cotton, loose and relaxed to keep the heat away from your body.

Having desired to travel in Mali and the Dogon region since my studies of West African Tribal Body adornment at Canberra School of Art, I finally realised my dream 21 years later in 2004.  I met up with a British tour group in Bamako for the start of the tour. We trekked in the Dogon region for 5 days. Rising before the sun and setting out early to avoid the scorching heat of the day, we walked until late morning where we would collapse in a local shelter to take some respite from the heat and refuel our bodies. Just until the temperature lowered sufficiently to continue our trek in the late afternoon. We trekked about 10 to 15 kilometres each day. Enormous thanks were given to the porters for carrying our baggage, for with added weight of full backpacks it would have been impossible.

My body and feet swam in perspiration as I trekked. We carried over 4 litres of water each, just to replace our fluids and that was still not enough. When we stopped for lunch and other short breaks I would take every opportunity to submerge a scarf in cool water to cool my neck.  After the second day as I collapsed exhausted into my tent, I was in tears with the pain in my feet from the blisters biting deep into my heels.

It was not an easy trek, but it has been one of the most rewarding adventures of my life. Following the trek we relaxed in a local boat ‘a Pinasse’ and toured up the Niger River camping on its banks at night, eventually arriving at every travellers Mecca ‘Timbuktu’. As we sat on the balcony of our hotel I remember the other travellers remarking on the dry scorching heat, a ittle bit like today.

For the second page of Make Bake Post Take I’m taking this opportunity to post some pictures of the baking Mali landscapes and it’s people. Not having shared these images before these will give you a small glimpse into the beauty of this harsh and beautiful land locked country.

Click here to see the slide show with captions.

Watering the animals outside Timbuktu Mali. © Katrina Newman.