During the month of March the heat is intolerable in Timbuktu. The job I have taken on here is healing people but I also find it to be psychologically exhausting. I treat people without pausing from when I commence in the morning until the afternoon.

As soon as I finish treating my patients, I set out to Tahara’s hotel, where the warm smiles of my friends help me to forget the stress of the hospital. Then I hop on my bike and travel to The Hotel Palmeraie. If it wasn’t for the allure of the pool at this hotel, I would not be able to sustain my work.


I dive into the pool and immerse myself in its cool, azure water, that is chlorine free and purified with salt. I spend at least one hour swimming in this paradise. Like an oasis, it is a swimming pool that looks out on the Sahara Desert.


I emerge cleansed of any negativity that may have been absorbed from my work with so many people in poor health.


Herve, the owner is a Frenchman with a southern sounding French accent. He is a retired former police officer and today he teaches and is a consultant for the police academy in Africa. As the Italians say, “The wolf loses its hair but not its fleas.” He has many stories to tell from his life as a policeman in the diplomatic services. If he ever makes them into a book, I suggested the title “A policeman like no other.”

Herve is generous with his pool. It is always open and he personally treats it by throwing whole slabs of salt from the ancient mines of Taudani, which still arrive in the traditional way on camel back.


Every time I meet one of those French based in Timbuktu, I ask myself, what has driven them to live in this dusty village in the desert and build their stories here.

My personal attraction is linked to its mystical history, as Timbuktu is a city of 333 saints. Its glorious past may be lost in the sands of time, but something of the life and light of these saints still remains, forever imprinted in its character. After all, it could be the same attraction for these adventurers, even thought they may not realize it.

If you go to Timbuktu on a budget tourist, stay here at La Palmeraie. Herve’s hotel is in my opinion the best in the city, and is far from being the most expensive. If you are on a backpacker’s budget, then stay at Tahara’s.

Their phones numbers:
Tahara: 00223 73 02 89 31
Hervé: 00223 76 40 00 00

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