January 19th, 2011

storyteller doll

Frames of Reference

I was talking about my trip with one of my colleagues yesterday and I made the comment, "of course, the salt caravans travel at night." She assumed that was because it was too hot during the day in the desert. But, actually, it's not that at all. There are no landmarks in the Sahara, so the only way the Tuaregs can find their way is celestial navigation. In fact, the museum at Timbuktu has a Tuareg table, which folds in half and is carved with a star map.

At one point during my trip, we were passing a field of cassava and Adama (my guide) asked me if Americans eat it raw or cooked. I said, "mostly, we don't eat cassava." He found it incomprehensible that we don't even grow it.

There are just so many ways for people to live. That's why I travel.