A lot of people guessed Africa (on and off the blog). You are all CORRECT! I guess Ursula is just the Travels with Tavel champion, huh? She guessed it: Geordie’s photograph is of the thatched huts of Dogon Country, Mali.
In Geordie’s explanation below, he describes how this is a very popular tourist destination in Western Africa. Well, admittedly, I had only vaguely heard of Dogon Country and would have been stumped if I had to guess the shot. I clearly need to make a very big trip to Africa. When I do go, these are my top country picks at the moment: Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, and Kenya. If I could make it to the World Cup in South Africa, I would probably flip out. I’m still hopeful that — by some elaborate and yet-to-be-determined-miracle — I will make it there, but let’s just say I’m not holding my breath. I do have a feeling that this might be the year I first set foot in Africa though… We shall see! Inch allah, right Geordie?
Anyway, here is Geordie’s Mystery Snapshot explanation. And no, I had NOTHING to do with the shout outs! He’s a LEGIT fan!
“First off, it’s great to be featured in Travels with Tavel after reading it for so many months! Many thanks to Tavel for using my picture, and for giving me this opportunity to talk about my experiences.
“This picture comes from a trip I took to Dogon Country, which is a region in Mali. It is one of the top tourist destinations in West Africa, along with Timbutku, which I also visited, though in all honesty I found Dogon Country much more interesting. The most distinctive feature of Dogon Country is what you see in the picture: pointed roofed huts that were built on hillsides, part of a defense strategy used by the Dogon people when they refused to convert to Islam over a thousand years ago.
“The Dogon have managed to preserve their distinctive culture and indigenous traditions on a remarkably large scale (the current population is estimated at between 400,000-800,000), and a trip through Dogon Country really does feel like a trip back in time. Climbing the hills amongst the mud huts with their thatched roofs, we saw no signs of modern amenities. No power lines, no running water, save for perhaps a pump at the base of the hill.
“Village elders invited us into the Togu Na, a sort of town hall with a ceiling built purposely low to prevent people from standing up (and maybe starting a fight) if discussion’s became heated. There was also the ‘house for menstruating women,’ where women were required to go during their periods, though it was unclear if they were still being used.
“Viewing the villages from afar was also spectacular. From a distance, the buildings would blend seamlessly into the hillsides, and only if you stared closely, could you make out the hundreds of tiny houses.
“I was lucky enough to spend my junior year abroad in Africa (studying in Senegal, adjacent to Mali) and have been anxious to go back ever since. I found the people friendly and welcoming, and after some initial jitters, I felt perfectly safe for my entire stay. Even if you can’t make it to an out-of-the-way place like Dogon Country, experiencing the barely organized chaos of an African city is an equally memorable experience.
“Thanks again, Tavel, for running my photo, and giving me this chance to talk about my travels. And definitely keep reading T w. T, because, and I say this totally objectively, things are just getting started. As the Senegalese would say “Ba Beneen yoon, inch allah” (Until next time, God Willing).”
*NOTE: All the photos in this entry were taken or provided by Geordie MacLeod.