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Day 56: Ingal

Michael Palin - SaharaOur little Wodaabe group has fallen silent. They look around with quick nervous glances. The natural ebullience of last night seems to have faded, and as they move off to look for somewhere to stay they seem uneasy and out of place.

As the heat of the day declines the energy levels rise. More and more people mill around, seeing and being seen, greeting and parading. I find myself introduced to an impressive man in white robes, the mayor of Tamanrasset in Algeria, who shouts over the noise that he is hoping we will come and see him on our way north. A moment later someone grasps my hand, a Frenchman who is trying to save the ostrich population of the nearby Aïr Mountains, which is now down to two. He's trying to get them to mate. I don't hear how, as a red-capped policeman on a camel, ghetto-blaster strapped to his thigh, rides between us.

We set up camp at the far end of the flat, gritty strip, but even here, half a mile from the celebrations, I'm kept awake at night by the sounds of amplified announcements, music and the stabbing beams of fast cars roaring away. Where they're going to I've absolutely no idea.

It's all part of the bracing confusion of Cure Salée, the party in the middle of nowhere.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 56
  • Country/sea: Niger
  • Place: Ingal
  • Book page no: 167

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