Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
In the year 1991 I reached Gao, in Mali, after ten days across the desert.
I started in Ghardaia hitchhiking (without much success) and more frequently, paying for my rides.
In a bus I arrived to Adrar. Then, the next day I took a shared taxi to Regganne with a stop in the oasis of Timimoun.
Now I had to cross the desert of deserts, the feared Tanezrouft.
I went out of the town and after 5 hours waiting, hitchhiking, a car carrying Touareg people stopped and asked me 20 US Dollars for a ride to the border with Mali, to Bordj Mojtar.
I agreed to pay.
After three days waiting in the border a truck transporting dates accepted me to take me to Gao for 80 US Dollars.
We left very early in the morning. I was told to wear a chéche (a kind of turban) to cover my head and to behave like a Muslim, otherwise I could be kidnapped by the Touaregs.
The journey to Gao would take us 6 days and 5 nights.
At the border with Mali I was asked by the soldiers 20 US Dollars baksheesh. At the beginning I refused. I already had my Mali visa issued in the Consulate of Mali in Tamanrrasset. But they did not want to allow me to continue my journey. Finally the truck driver convinced me to pay half that amount, 10 US Dollars, and then I could cross the border.
Once in Tessalit, Mali, we continued to Aguelhok, where we spent the night and all the passengers, including me, bought a lamb for dinner. I was travelling on the top of the truck, with the dates and dozens of other passengers. I was the only European.
In the evening we all listened the radio with the news.
We reached Anefis, and one day later Tabankort.
Finally the sixth day we saw Gao in the horizon.
I went to the port and learnt that two days later a boat, the Kanku Musa, would sail to Mopti, but first would make a stop in Kabara, the port of Timbuktu.
I paid the price and waited for the boat.
The boat journey from Gao to Mopti would take me six more days along the Niger River.
I did not have any cabin, but slept on the floor like most of the passengers. It gave me the impression that on board the small, but crowded boat, we would be over 1000 passengers
The fifth day we reached Kabara, the port of Timbuktu. I was excited and started my trip walking and at the same time hitchhiking to the mythical Timbuktu.
Date posted: September 2013
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