After the seemingly interminable bus ride to Burkina, we arrived in Ouagadougou in the afternoon. We found a place to stay for the night and then went looking for food. We made our way to my favorite restaurant from my previous trip to Ouaga… Le Verdoyant where we had brick oven pizza and delicious ice cream. The next morning we headed North to Ouhigouya near the border of Mali. We stayed there that night and the next morning took a mini-bus stuffed with 18 people to Koro in Mali. We ran into two other peace corps volunteers (who serve in Burkina).
Our guide’s brother for Dogon, Oumar Guindo, met us in Koro and then took us to Bankass where we met our guide Mikey and stayed for the night. The next morning we got up early to take a horse and cart 6 miles out to Dogon country. The Dogon are a group of people who have lived very isolated lives. They are famous for having built homes into the cliffsides. A lot of travelers like to hike through the different villages. If you do all of Dogon it can take a month. We decided to do three days and saw 2-3 villages a day. We started in Tely, one of the oldest Dogon villages. Then walked 3 miles to Ende where we visted a waterfall and met some wild young boys. We found the boys on the outside of town watching over sheep. They were running around playing “kung fu”, also known as kicking each other. My friend Susie, took out her camera to get a photo and the mass of boys converged on her screaming, “photo, photo, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” She got some good pictures. Ende is also a good place to buy mali mud cloth, it is cotton fabric that has been died with mud and very beatiful. We spent the night at Mikey’s house in Ende where we slept on the roof.
We climbed up to the top of the plateau the next day, which was very steep at times. By the time we made it to the top, it started raining, so we didn’t make it to Begnimato that night as planned. Oh well, when we did make it Begnimato, we got to meet two hunters. The first guy, Thomas, was really funny. We got to his house and he started putting on his hunting clothes for us and then made us pose for a photo with him. We gave him some kola nuts and he seemed satisfied.
All in all, the Dogon people were very friendly and their culture is fascinating. As they open up to outsiders their way of life is changing… we saw many schools being built and the Dogon people are a mixture of catholics, muslims, protestants, and animists. They are also great artists, their wood carvings are beautiful and adorn everything from doors and window shutters to masks. They also make mud cloth and indigo cloth. It was an amazing experience!