Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Dogon Village Afternoon

We were offered the use of these mattresses for a siesta

We were told that Ian couldn't climb up to the old Dogon cliff dwellings until 3pm as it was too hot, (can't say we disagreed with that) so we all settled down to a snooze, and in Ian's and my case, climbing up onto the roof to explore and admire the view.

The 'hotel' accommodation was either in one of
the rooms whose doors you can see below
 or under the nets up on the roof

One way of reaching the sleeping quarters on the roof was
up these terrifyingly unsafe-looking tree log ladders

Once 3pm arrived, I followed Ian and our local Dogon guide to the outskirts of the village so that I could get some photo's of their climb. I found myself standing under a tree right next to a group of village children who were being babysat by two of the oldest women I'd seen in Mali so far - they looked like being in their late 80s or early 90s, but with these harsh living conditions it's often hard to tell. Both women were sitting on the ground without any backrests sorting through baskets of grain. neither had glasses of course, so I don't know how they were seeing what they were doing. The one old lady barked out some orders to some of the children who were getting over-excited by my presence and they seemed to listen to her. They were extremely respectful in fact.

The two extremely old Dogon women and the children they
were babysitting. Note the little boy with the swollen
stomach (back left) probably caused by malnutrition

To my absolute amazement, she gave an order to a child, and this child ran off and returned with a stool which she then indicated to me was for me to sit on. This old lady was sitting on the ground and yet was polite and hospitable and considerate enough to see that I was comfortable! I was so humbled and I must say that this is the an example of African hospitality that we have witnessed time and again! While I was sitting there, I had a chance to get a good look at the children, who clearly viewed me as the entertainment for the afternoon and were trying to get my attention...too cute. I found their level of poverty depressing though. One little boy was naked with a runny nose, and all the other children were dressed very poorly and were extremely dirty and thin.

Ian said that the cliff dwellings were amazing and well worth the effort even though the heat really got to him. There were also grain stores built just outside the caves. The current Dogons still maintain the caves and use them for tribal rituals such as circumcision.

Ian and guide climbing up to the old Dogon cliff dwellings

The view from up there

The granaries were built just in front of the caves

Ian looking into the caves

Decorated walls

The granaries

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