We were lost. Lost in the sandy Sahel of northern Mali. The Toyota 4x4 managed the terrain well, but we couldn’t track our position on the map. The Sahel stretched out endlessly in all directions, and today the landscape was partly masked by the sandy veil lifted by the strong winds. What to do now? Should we try to follow the tracks back to M’Bouna, the village we came from? We chose to continue. The guides told us that we might get lucky and still find the localities we were looking for: Areas with a red oxidized soil or sediment layers that were apparently formed from the heat emanating from shallow volcanic intrusions.
We continued and came across a small valley with some trees and a water well. A few guys rose among the animals (picture 1) and came to meet us.
They gave us new directions and we moved on. After a while we drove through a small settlement with Tuareg nomads (picture 2). We stopped, and the guides got out of the cars and talked to the locals. I stayed in the car.
Kids came running to see what all the fuss was about. I pulled down the window and took a few pictures. The kids didn’t seem to mind. On the contrary. They boys wanted their pictures taken, and to see the results on the camera screen. They all got very exited. Then a girl, somewhat older that the boys, pushed them aside and pointed at the camera before she closed her eyes. I took her picture. She had a look at it and smiled. We left the settlement, and continued our search.
Later that day we found the red rocks, and took some samples. The landscape seemed endless. Sand-polished rocks with thick weathering crusts were silent witnesses of the passage of time and climates. I took a picture before we headed back to M’Bouna.