Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Timbuktu! (or Tombouctou!) (or Timbuctoo!) (or even Tumbutu!)

I got a postcard from Timbuktu today. It's the first and perhaps last one I'll ever receive from that city, with such a storied name. Naturally, it was from Ed, very likely the only person I know who will actually make it to Timbuktu, a journey that takes a concentrated mix of time, money and inclination.

“Tombouctou” is the spelling the card uses. It’s a simple card, a picture of tourists (and other people, many of whom are probably touts, buzzing nearby) at the Djigarey-ber, one of the city's golden-age mosques, which to me looks instead like the inspiration for the Foreign Legion fortifications in every Beau Geste knockoff since Gary Cooper played the part.

The postmark says “Postes Mali 26.02.08” and the colorful Republique du Mali stamps are of 20F and 385F, the former with a “Scene de thé dans le desert” and the later sporting a “Femme Peulh.” There was some damage in transit, so the tea in the desert scene was a bit torn away, but you can still see the tribesmen dismounted from their camels, enjoying a relaxing spot of tea on the sands. I had to look up the Peulh, and they are the west and central African people variously known as Fula or Fulani or Fulbe or Peul or Peulh or Peuhl, at least according to Wiki.

At the bottom of each stamp is “Imp. Poste Tunis” which I would think means that that Tunisia had something to do with the manufacture of these stamps. Just a guess.

Ed says: “I’ve been here & you haven’t. Ha.”

True enough. If I can get a card at the Ford Presidential Museum later this month, I will write exactly the same thing back – it’s a fairly safe bet.

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At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very true--I've never been to the Ford Museum.

One might mention that Timbuktu/ Tombouctou (which is how it's spelled on the passport stamp) looks like Yuma, Arizona, after a rain. One can't actually go in the famed mosque, and we weren't even allowed in the courtyard, since it's undergoing reconstruction-- repairing the mud, which actually does look quite interesting up close.

Bragging rights, I'm afraid. Not a whole lot of there there, except for the bragging rights one brings back.



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