Travel to Timbuktu

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Timbuktu has for centuries exchanged its gold with books of science, building schools and copying tirelessly by the hand of its calligraphers the knowledge that arrived across the great desert, in order to spread it across Africa. 

In the deepest of the medieval dark ages, the city was a bright light of civility that attracted students and experts from all over the Islamic world. 

Timbuktu Brent Stirton55

1. The city of Timbuktu

I had hoped to be able to travel by boat from Bamako to Timbuktu but the Niger River is too low this season. I shall have to go by road. This is because there are no seats on the next flight to Timbuktu and I certainly don't want to stay a week…
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2. The scourge of Timbuktu

I fail to understand why there are so many organizations from all over the world that have a branch in Timbuktu for helping the poor and needy. Nevertheless, this small city which seems to be one of the most assisted in the world is of…
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3. Qaddafi’s canal

The new canal Last year the president of Libya, Qaddafi came to Timbuktu to hold a summit and to help the city because of its glorious past as a lighthouse of faith and religion. He asked the wise men of the city: "What shall I construct…
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4. The dry well of the Tuaregs

Ali Ould Sidi is the director of the cultural mission in Timbuktu. In his company, one is always sure to eat well because he is a blue ribbon and does not miss an occasion to taste something good. Not only does he handle the funds of cultural…
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5. The association of courageous women

I have gone to the center of the handicapped women of Timbuktu. The aim of the association is to help each other and to receive the foreign help destined to help the poor and needy of Timbuktu. A German organization has donated to them some…
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6. The school teacher

We had been waiting for Senussi the tailor at Ali’s house for a good hour and were bored, so we decided to go out in the street for a distraction. I saw a handicapped girl coming in our direction. I sent Ali to politely ask her if she belonged…
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7. The millet bags

This morning I went to visit AbduRahman who is the director of the hotel Hendrina Khan. I know he helps the poor and for this reason, I asked him to help me find a good seller for the millet of the Tuaregs. He informed me that these Tuaregs…
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8. The desert food

Millet is the preferred food of the desert people because it is refreshing. It also costs half the price of rice, but there is much more work in preparing it. The millet must be washed thoroughly because when it is bought, it is dirty with…
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9. Ali Ittiram

Ali Attiram is one of the herbal doctors of Timbuktu, I am getting information from him about the medical properties of the local plants. I have seen him several times curing malaria with his herbs, the success was always stupefying but he…
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10. Timbuktu’s well digger

We returned in the desert the day after bringing the millet, with the engineer Ibrahim Traore whom we have commissioned to go down the well to make a technical visit. He will examine the well to understand why it is drying out and to understand…
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11. Internet café library

I heard from the television that the library of Timbuktu's great Mosque had opened a high-speed internet point. The Imam of the great mosque is AbdurRahman As-Suyuti, his family has inherited many of the antique manuscripts for which Timbuktu…
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12. The Timbuktu manuscripts

I had been explaining something to a dear friend. I noticed that while I was speaking to him he appeared lost in thought. I said, "I see you are listening to me, but your heart is somewhere else, is something worrying you?" - "You guessed…
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13. My desert walking stick

The old Ismail has offered me the strangest of walking sticks. Ismail is the holy man of this piece of Sahara, the Tuaregs have seen in him the signs of a Man of God, although they concede that he is a little disturbed in his mind. However,…
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14. Starting the work

Ibrahim has already transported all the building material by the well and this morning he has brought his team there and they have started to prepare the camp where they will stay until the work has been completed. Ibrahim has put his gun…
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15. Wells in the sand

A desert well is constructed as if it was made of two tubes, one been inserted inside the other. The first tube, of bigger diameter, travels downwards until it reaches the water level. The second tube is inserted into the first one. It continues…
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16. Timbuktu’s gas stations

Petrol is sold by liter all over the world, but only in Timbuktu did I see it sold in one-liter bottles It is really is the case to say, “the petrol pump on the street corner.” At a most improbable place, a city round-about! Petrol…
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17. Aromatherapy in the desert

Since I arrived in Timbuktu I have had the occasion to help a number of people with my “First-Aid Aromatherapy kit.” Stomach pains, sore throats, joint pains, etc… I have called my approach to Aromatherapy “First-Aid Aromatherapy”,…
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18. The orphans of the desert

When I saw the wounded and bleeding head of the child I took pity on him. This poor kid has a disease called “ringworm” and scratches his head till it bleeds. He cannot sleep at night or day. I immediately sprayed “Cicatrix” to…
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19. Around the well

We are in the Sahel, the sub-Sahara, but the desert is advancing every year. The salt from Taudani's mines, 850 km ahead in the Sahara, is still often carried by camels Small guests clean our leftovers, they are all over here, they…
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20. Ali Ittiram medicinal plants

Gorboy tree (dwild dates) Saboy tree Amalagia tree Camel dungs Ganda Dar grass (black) Ganda Dar grass (white) Shells from the river Niger The gum tree Ginger roots
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21. Down the well

The well is now consolidated down until it reaches the water and Ibrahim’s workers are emptying it of the sand. It is the most delicate part of the whole process, because, without a special technique that Ibrahim uses, the sand would come…
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22. Solution for disabled women

It has been a very good day. Ali and I are satisfied. It was 3 weeks since we were looking for a way to help the disabled women without finding it. In order to be sure that all the women would be present at the meeting we called, we let it…
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23. The new team of the well

It is already a month since we started the work. Ibrahim, Ali and I often go back to Timbuktu, but the workers must stay here permanently and they are tired. Some of them are working without the spirit of goodwill and the work does not proceed…
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24. Desert doctors

The “King” of the Tuaregs, as Ali calls him, has put at our disposal the empty storeroom as a clinic. Today is the first appointment that we have with the sick. The “king”, himself, has Ali cure his eyes, damaged by the sandy wind…
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25. The fortieth day

Today is the fortieth day from when I had signed the contract with Ibrahim, for renovating the well of the Tuaregs. Today has been a day of hope and of truth. There is never hope without first a measure of despair and in fact, yesterday had…
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26. The small engineer of the desert

Baba is not someone who bothers people. I had seen him playing alone with the sand by the water drum, but not really paid much attention to what he was doing. Only today I discovered his game: Baba is building a miniature well. I called to…
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27. New well, new life

The well is going to be finished, in sha Allah, as we always say here. The day scheduled to reach the 5 meters depth is tomorrow. We are very confident that we shall succeed because precursor signs become visible. The first sign is the quantity…
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28. Bir Amin, trusted well

On the third day we have measured the depth of the well. Mamutu had done this already the day before, and all the workers knew that they had earned the premium of 20 000 Francs. Instead, it is not like that at all. Eighty centimeters are…
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29. The last day

Today we have returned to dismantle the camp and to pour the Zam Zam water into the well. The nephew of the “king”, Abu Bakr, has worked with our workers in such a manner that has impressed us all. He has worked harder than our own…
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30. Farewell to Timbuktu

The persons with whom I have spend all my time in the last two and half month have accompanied me to the airport. Ibrahim, Ali and his daughters. My last sight while we are taking off is for my friends left on the ground. Timbuktu,…