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Sahara

Day 57: Ingal

Agadez, Niger 
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Bristling mud spire of the Grande Mosquée in Agadez.
Michael Palin - SaharaLater, bearing bags of millet, sugar and mint, but with no money left over for new outfits, Doulla and Perri return to their lodgings to prepare for the big night, the first public performance of their Gerewol.

We return to our camp site, passing the various shops and stalls on the edge of the showground. One is run by the Niger Post Office, which proves to be boldly internationalist, with colour-soaked special issues devoted to such typically African heroes as Raphael, Rembrandt and Princess Di. Another booth boasts a pair of skis and a snowboard. A dashingly elegant Touareg appreciates my curiosity and tries to sell me a course of sand-skiing lessons. On some of the higher dunes, he says, when the sand is cold and crisp, it can be just like the Alps. He may be right, but the name on his card doesn't exactly fill me with confidence.

'Danger,' it reads. 'Abdul Khadir Danger.'

It's late in the afternoon when we return to the Wodaabe compound. Hairdressing and make-up is already underway as they prepare themselves for their first night at Cure Salée. Doulla is having his hair dressed by one of the women. Almost unrecognisable without his headcloth, he has, like most of the Wodaabe, and unlike the Hausa, a surprisingly luxuriant growth, which is being carefully plaited until tresses hang down by his ears like those of a Hasidic Jew.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 57
  • Country/sea: Niger
  • Place: Ingal
  • Book page no: 168

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