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Thursday, November 22, 2007
Thanksgiving Day - Dogon Death March
Big day. We climb the escarpment. Sigrid calls it the "Dogon Death March". It is a short drive to the west escarpment where we start the climb up. We visit the Yougo Piri village, ultimately reaching the top of the plateau, and down the other side. It is a hot five hour+ climb under a blazing sun and 103 degree heat. Scrambling over rocks, across rock bridges, stepping over deep crevasses, across flat shadowless hard pan, down tree limb ladders and through ravines.
Before the hike started we each selected a “helper” from the locals for the climb. I did not think it would be necessary, but I was glad we had them along. Our two guys proved invaluable for the climb down, particularly the extra water they carried. Everyone struggled to get through the hike in the heat. On the way down my hands had started to swell, and I had to remove my watch from my wrist. Sigrid was really hurting by the time we got down. Her new hiking shoes impacted a toe nail on each foot and created a blister. We expect she'll lose both nails. She toughed it out and made it down, but it was much harder than either of us anticipated.
The total climb was 250 - 300 meters in elevation, and lasted about 5 ½ hours. Views were spectacular. For me it was a highlight of the trip and well worth the effort. Sigrid is glad she did it, but is not so sure about it being worth the effort. We would be dealing with the injuries to her feet for the rest of the trip.
Lunch, soft drinks, beer and mats waited for us on the bottom. Bart and Cindy also rejoined us for lunch, pulling up in the last Land Cruiser with most of their luggage. I stretch out for a while, and Sigrid's spirits bounce back quickly after a rest.
After recovering from the hike, we visit the village Tiegu to experience the Dogon Mask Dance. It was a high energy, interesting and engaging experience. Paul told us that the Dogon were a “modern tribe” and the dance would reflect this. I was not sure what he meant, but soon learned. The dance was not an archaic historical set piece being replayed for the tourists. It was a living breathing and evolving expression of their life in the village. The colorful masked dancers represented all aspects of village life, including spirits, hunters, animals, government bureaucrats, and one somewhat recent addition to the dance - white tourists brandishing cameras, now a regular part of village life, so incorporated into the dance. Very amusing.
Back at camp Wes had been advising the cook and crew of the importance of the Thanksgiving holiday to Americans. The result – John the cook whips up a real Thanksgiving dinner with Guinea fowl, green beans, mashed yams, and gravy. Washed down with the wine that Wes had picked up earlier in the week, it was a memorable thanksgiving dinner. It would not be Thanksgiving without football, so Wes agreed to take Detroit and the points for the Thanksgiving game. We later learned that Green Bay won by eleven. We still don't know the point spread for the game, but I doubt that Detroit had 11 points. I think Wes owes me 10 bucks.