The Traveller and the Tourist

 

The traveller and the tourist are essentially of course the same thing: nomads on holiday! But, if you have ever travelled the road less travelled you will know why travelers wince when they are called tourists. I am often asked to define the difference. This is what i have come up with:

When we are tourists our purpose for travel is to be ourselves surrounded by another world in order to replenish ourselves. When we are tourists we return home rejuvenated to continue our lives. On return our perspective on our life is hopefully re-energised. Our journey is over, back to the grind.

When we are travellers our purpose for travel is to be ourselves in the other’s world in order to exhaust ourselves. When we are travellers we return home older and cannot continue our lives in the same vein because our perspective on our lives has changed. On return our journey has just begun. 

Travelling requires a leap of faith, that is why we travel. It has been thus since the first nomad left the trees for the plains of Africa!

 

Trust Locally Travel Safely From Here To Timbuktu

Trust Locally Travel Safely from here to Timbuktu

This is our new mission statement. 

What do we mean?

In a nutshell we mean that by trusting to your own intuition AND trusting the local perspective of your guide you can travel safely anywhere in the world.  

An extreme example: we would never advise anyone to go into an active conflict zone for obvious reasons. But say you have to. Say it is your job. You are a war correspondent. You are sent to Afghanistan with a mission to get behind enemy lines.

How would you go about this? Would you just arrive in Kabul, get a bus to Taliban land and walk in saying “Hi I’m looking for a Taliban to interview?”. Of course not. Would you consult your government and go in with the military? Wouldn’t work. Would you get your editor to hook up with the taliban so you can drive in yourself expected? No.

You’d find a guide. Someone from the region, someone with connections, someone who could argue your case and protect your interest. And you’d only move forwards into dangerous territory knowing you had back up, trusting in your local plan and your guide’s advice. If you didn’t trust your guide you’d drop the mission.

We are not asking you to go to Afghanistan, or Syria or Libya. We are asking you to go to Mali, Jordan. Iran, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Ethipiopia, Kenya. What is keeping you away? 

Fear. Fear of politics. Fear of terrorism. Fear of the unknown. But you have all of that in your back yard. 

Kenya’s tourism has been decimated. Why? Because tourists fear being kidnapped from the beach by a pirate. This is what the brave that do travel to kenya do instead:

When the shit hits the fan

On the road occasionally the shit hits the fan, that’s life. On our journeys to Timbuktu over the past decade occasionally a vehicle broke down, occasionally a passport was lost, occassionally someone got ill and our journey had to change direction. 

When a world financial crisis happened, we had to adapt to a changing world; when a war took place in Libya that had repercussions in our back yard in Mali we had to adapt our business. Once, when we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, we had to adapt our journey. 

Then one day real crisis hit – Mali had a coup d’etat and went into political and civil crisis, our world was divided against itself, our people became refugees. We had to adapt to a new reality. But whatever happend, whatever we had to adapt around, we always returned to Timbuktu, and from Timbuktu we all always returned home. 

As nomads, travellers, guides or refugees we were always “safe” because we always had two essential guides to rely upon – our own intuition to judge the moment and a local guide’s understanding and perspective to judge any situation. And at all pojnts on any journey real safety is in your driver’s hands not the outside world’s.

So we say keep your eyes on the road ahead, trust your local perspective and you can travel safely.

Travel is our species’ raison d’etre – we are the success we are today because we travelled across the globe and discovered our planet. To travel we need to trust in our ability to get to know a new environment. To understand a new environment we need local knowledge. If we have local knowledge we trust in our inate ability to safely travel forwards. We’ve been doing it since our time began!

What do we trust?

We trust our own ability to deal with the unknown and our ability to communicate with others we might meet on our journey to help us on our way. We walk to the shop, we take the bus to the big city, we take a train to the continent, we fly to the other side of the world because we like to move, we have moved before, we trust in our environment and we trust in the local people at all points on the journey to guide us on our way.

 

When Free Movement Is Banned The Free Should Keep Moving

Trump’s Muslim travel ban is non-sensical but Western travellers have been banning themselves from Muslim countries for years. It is time for travellers to realise their power.

 

The US must be at a very high security risk for its President to be banning people from entering the country on the basis of nationality or creed. There must be high grade intelligence, ‘noise’ on the airwaves, someone somewhere must know something. 

 

Of course assumptions of a correlation between policy and reality are naive in our brave new alternative fact world of Trump and Brexit. Trump’s travel ban on some Muslim countries (forgetting the 9/11 Saudis) is similar to the Brexit demand to curb free movement. Both are really about political expediency rather than the issue they seek to address: security in the case of Trump, jobs in the case of Brexit. The travel ban will not prevent a terrorist attack, curbing free movement will not create one job. Indeed in both cases the opposite of what is intended is likely to happen, the travel ban will fuel resentment from the Muslim world and curbing free movement will reduce jobs.

 

In the case of Trump’s travel ban, what is the difference between banning Muslims coming in to western lands and the west warning their citizens from visiting Muslim lands? In both instances the act of travelling is deemed the risk, the creed or nationality of people deemed the problem, prevent the traveller going to certain places and you will kill the risk of terrorism, it is assumed. One problem: terrorism does not respect borders.

 

Some of us have been watching the west build these walls of nonsense around travel for a long time. For years now western governments have been advising, alerting, and warning their citizens from travelling to Muslim lands. Imaginary walls have been erected across Africa, Arabia and Persia. 

 

But there is one crucial difference. Here it is not just the politicians who are to blame. It is mainly you, the western traveller. You have been Trumping yourselves because unlike Muslims travelling to the US, you were not banned.

 

You banned yourselves. You stayed away, you went elsewhere, you took some other plane, perhaps to Paris or Brussels or South Africa instead, somewhere you felt safer.   South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in Africa and yet no one thinks twice about travelling there BECAUSE it is not a Muslim country. 

 

Since 2008, travel alerts were placed on Mali because of the threat of Al Qaeda terrorism. Malians were bemused. At this point, to most people in Mali, terrorism was something that happened in the west.  The first “terror” incident against tourists within Mali’s borders was in November 2011 when 3 tourists were kidnapped. This was far more to do with the the fact that a month earlier Colonel Gaddafi had been murdered and half his army had fled across the Sahara to Mali than to general internal insecurity. 

 

What was the reality of the risk to you the traveller in the 4 years between alerts and event? 

 

Well, in the Sahara region, an area the size of the USA, about twenty five Europeans were kidnapped, of whom a handful were tourists and one was killed. Most hostages were NGOs or ‘expat’ workers as their movements are much more easily tracked than tourists’. 

 

In the same period that the Sahara had 6 tourists kidnapped, America lost about 50,000 people to gun crime on its own streets. 

You might feel I am not comparing like for like. So let’s look at this differently. 

 

America has a population of 300 million. Mali about 15 million. Mali is 5% the size of America in terms of population. In an average year America loses about 12,000 people to gun crime on its streets. At 5% of 12,000, if Mali was as risky as America, it would lose on average 600 people to guns.

 

In January 2012, following events in Libya, Mali fell into a crisis that went from a rebellion to a coup d’etat, to a rebel take over of half the country followed by an Al Qaeda invasion to usurp the rebels, and finally a French military intervention to liberate the north. In all this under 400 lives were lost, the vast majority were military combatants of one type or another. Even in Mali’s year of total crisis when it had no government and Al Qaeda occupied half the country an American,  or any tourist for that matter, was safer wandering around Bamako than New York.

 

Like Trump’s ban and Brexit, these alerts had the opposite effect from that intended which was presumably to secure the traveller. In turning yourselves away from Mali you travellers created the vacuum that sucked in the terrorists. They were not here when you were here. But once you left our guides, hotels, travel operators, artisans, cooks, waiters, drivers, beggars and shopkeepers had nothing to do, less income, nothing to look forward to. They got poorer, desperate and angry and the resentment divided the country along the very line where tourist could and could not go. Perhaps, as angry people do, Malians listened more attentively to the crazy man at the lectern spouting nonsense for “votes” and pointing to you as the source of their problems, just like Trump and the Leave campaign did. The migrant traveller is always to blame! When four tourists who could see beyond the scaremongering arrived in Timbuktu in November 2011 they were more visible, more noticed and the natural instinct inherent in all communities to protect the stranger and their own economic interests was diminished, because the tourist income had gone, the few that were there were small fry.

 

The whole Saharan and West African regions, and Mali in particular, are on their knees still today, not because there is insecurity but because there are no tourists. Manny Ansar, the director of the Festival In The Desert, once said to me “When there are no tourists it is like you are blind. You cannot see yourself and forget what you look like.” As we have seen in Mali, the effects of blindness and communities wandering in the dark are devastating.

 

Travel alerts do not protect tourism, they kill it. If you kill tourism you create the conditions of insecurity that you are warning against – exactly what terrorism wants. In the internet age, the notion that you can protect people physically from an idea or an event that is by nature borderless and unpredictable is frankly ludicrous.

 

As Manny Ansar pointed to, the traveller is a mirror to us all of our common humanity, a great force for communication and understanding in our divided world.

 

For those of us not affected by the ban we’ll carry on going to America. We know that despite Trump’s fear mongering America is a pretty safe travelling bet. We know that despite the ban, Americans will continue picking up guns and walking into their schools, or blowing people away in the streets and that the gunman we are extremely unlikely to meet is much more likely to be white and Christian than black or Muslim, but we also know that despite all of this, the chances are we’ll have a ball, even if the airport is a hassle and awash with Robo Cop security.

 

The traveller is the best ambassador for peace that the world has. Rise above the fear, resist the politics and travel to save the world. Despite all the noise we are living in the safest of times for travel.

 

The Responsible Traveler

The Responsible Traveler

 

The responsible traveler is a nomad,

Ambassador to the world

Carrying a stranger’s respect and intuition

Guided only by what he sees.

 

The responsible traveler is safe 

Trusting the knowledge and care 

Of his common human community

Serving the roadside all along the way.

 

Travelers are responsible

For peace in the world, 

They are marching prophets, humanity’s messengers

Carrying nomad hearts and eyes on feet.

Travel to Iran: Everything For A Quality Bucket List Adventure

Iranian Hospitality, Windows On Persia

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Over the next two years From Here 2 Timbuktu is spreading east. To celebrate our new direction we have teamed up with an Iranian operation and together we are opening up adventurous routes through this fascinating country. Iran has always been a favourite of the travel connoisseur for its incredible hospitality. At the crossroads between Arabia and central and southern Asia, its architecture, archaelogy, culture, history and language give Iran a totally unique flavour incomparable with anywhere else. Now of course it is opening up politically and focussing heavily on bringing tourism, so get in early and avoid the crowds.

This is a 4 star quality journey that takes in the best of Iran’s but it is worth every penny.

Contact us to discuss a holiday with a difference this year!

Senegal: Cruise through wildlife, culture and desert in affordable luxury!

 

Senegal: A Cruise from the Atlantic to The Sahara

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Relax, lie back, be served and welcomed, observe and participate as you travel in style from Saint Louis – the Manhatten of West Africa – on Senegal’s Atlantic coast to the fringes of the Sahara. Senegal on the south bank, Mauritania on the north bank, through one of the world’s most important sites for migrating birds, past old French forts and trading towns. You will be expertly guided through the history of this important colonial route into Africa and expereince the modern day welcome of the cultures and villages en route.

With three standards of cabin and prices from €1500 this cruise offers affordable luxury for the lazy adventurer! 

Please contact us for more details 

 

Mauritania: Travel Back To Saharan Space And Time Forgotten

Mauritania: Travel Back To Saharan Space And Time Forgotten

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A Roman province, land of the Moors, descendants of Almoravids, Berbers, Beni Hassan Arabs and black west Africans united through an ancient Arabic dialect called Hassaniya, Mauritania is special but today you’ll be lucky to find anyone who even knows where it is. If you seek roads less traveled Mauritania is a dream destination.

Atlantic waves crash against Saharan dunes, ancient desert trading centres like Walata and Chinguetti, once as famous as Timbuktu, the longest train in the world and, with 4 million people in a country twice the size of France and two million of them in the capital city, lots of space space space!

Price Indicator: 2 weeks, 2+ passengers €1500 per person.

Please contact us to discuss Mauritania

Morocco: The Saharan Orient On Europe’s Doorstep

Morocco: EasyJet away to ancient Citadels, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara!

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Morocco offers a top adventure holiday with easy access. A cheap short flight from Europe’s capitals and you are amidst the sweet aromas and exotic tastes of the Orient in the ancient citadels of Fez, Meknes and Marrakesh; dining with Berber fishermen on the fruits of the Mediteranean or Atlantic; crossing the Atlas mountains to camp under Saharan stars with nomads and camels.

Your guides are of nomad stock. Old Mohammed used to caravan the 55 days to Timbuktu, but today his sons Bashir and Moktar will pick you up from the airport in their comfortable 4×4 and take you on a journey through this delicous, varied and surprisingly undiscovered country.

Price Indicator: 1 Week, Inc accommodation for 2+ passengers €900 per person (Not inc flights)

Roads Less Travelled From Here to Timbuktu.

Follows:

Paris Night Bamako Morning

War and Peace and Hamlet in an East and West Side Story

Warnings coming out from the blue

Back at the flat on The Caledonian Road, the night before Bamako morning, Petra and I wander over to Africa in our discussion on the war.

From 2004 to 2007 I travelled west Africa and in 2007 I left behind my life as an actor and set up From Here 2 Timbuktu. I wanted to show travellers the kaleidoscope of random places and communities I had discovered over a lifetime of travelling in Africa. My first official group trip was to The Festival In The Desert, in Timbuktu in January 2008.

After trekking along the Dogon Escarpment and a delicious journey up the river Niger by traditional “pinasse” we arrived in Timbuktu for the festival when I received a message from a travel industry colleague telling me the British Foreign Office had put a travel alert on the Festival. She gave me the personal number of the British Consulate representative in Mali. I called and left a message saying I was taking 14 tourists, predominantly British, to the festival and needed more information. I found an email address and another telephone number and communicated the same. I got no reply.

Timbuktutians were confused. The authorities and the festival organisers knew nothing. Al Qaeda? Here? No way. And why would Tuareg rebels attack a Tuareg festival that celebrates their own culture that their rebellions seek to protect? Besides there was military protection as every year, planes circulating, normal precautions for a festival in the middle of nowhere, how would they get through?

I put the situation to my group, unanimously they had felt very safe all trip and opted to go to the Festival. We partied in the dunes for three days. Tinariwen, Salif Keita, Tartit, camels and Tuareg looking magnificent in their bright coloured robes and flashing silver swords.

This was my second time to the festival. The Tuareg – the famous “Blue people” of the desert for their robes of indigo that colour their skin – intrigued me, but I found them distant and I wanted to know more. So after my group left I decided to travel deep into the desert to their heartland in the north. I found Sarid in Gao who agreed to take me to his camp 500kms across the desert near a place called Aguelhoc.

 

Paradise found: Aguelhoc January 2008

Aguelhoc, or Adielhoc, means “that place over there” and indeed it is as random a place as any, 500kms of desert piste north from the city Gao.

I wanted to see behind the veil, witness the little festivals or random parties that spring up at this time of year, the dry cool season when nomads are settled at home. It’s a time to share stories and music. These gatherings were the origin of the Festival In the Desert. For two weeks I lived with Sarid and his family, wandering their desert, with camels, goats and sheep, bathing in azure blue spring pools in the mountains and dancing to electric guitar blues under canopies of leather and stars . On all my travels I had never been anywhere so homogenous, one people, one culture living how they had for hundreds of years with only tunes coming out of mobile phones and a Toyota Landcruiser the signs of the real world.

On leaving Aguelhoc and travelling back across the desert to Gao Sarid was concerned at my silence. “Gaye Gaye” – the Tuareg have never quite got my name right to this day – “why are you silent? are you sad?”

Ha! I was ecstatic. Aguelhoc was very special. From Here 2 Timbuktu was going to work. No one on earth could offer this! But my confidence had a strange sadness to it. This mind blowing desert, these extraordinary people in their robes, their pastoral idyl, this biblical paradise, this intense peace and happiness – it was too perfect, was it real? Could it possibly last?

 

The Blue People are Red Zoned

Over the following two years I returned to Aguelhoc three times, freely moving with Sarid and his family or with small groups of tourists until the warnings began to fulfil themselves. Kidnappings of Spanish NGO workers in Mauritania, French ex-pats and uranium mine contractors in Niger. It turned out that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had had a camp near Alguelhoc for some time but it had suddenly become active. My way to Aguelhoc was barred, my family could no longer guarantee my safety there, it was too remote and the Malian authorities would not let me north into the desert anyway.

By October 2011 northern Mali had been cut off to tourism for two years. Western governments had red zoned the north and consequently tourism, the country’s main form of external income, had pretty much died. In the desert it was non existent.

These travel alerts helped no one. They were unspecific and painted vast regions with one brush. The risk to a westerner was of kidnapping for ransom but the actual risk to tourists was so small it was pretty much negligible. Kidnappings are about money and as such have to be planned, the nationalities known (only certain countries pay) and the kidnappers escape certain. Of the people kidnapped most were French, nearly all were NGO or ex-pat workers, and all were taken from extremely remote desert or border areas.

Tourists are not good targets because their movements are too difficult to predict, they are just passing through any given place, they arrive suddenly and are usually gone within a couple of days. Warning tourists away from a whole country when the risk is random or in a very specific area is like warning people not to go to France because a tourist is killed in a village in Germany, or warning people away from the US because of gun crime. That information does not protect you, it merely makes you fear the infinitessimally small risk and destroys local economies.

A tourist was only ever at above normal risk in certain remote desert border regions, the sorts of place you’d always be to some extent vulnerable as these are uncontrolable territories, the sort of place you could only get to with guides who knew the area, the sort of place the guide wouldn’t and couldn’t take you anyway if there was an abnormally high risk.

They further put the tourist at risk because of crying wolf. When you are constantly going in and out of supposed red zones and there is nothing about them that makes you feel unsafe you have no way of judging risk when it is there.

 

Freda to Timbuktu, October/November 2011

In September 2011 I had an enquiry from Freda Fleisher: “Dear Guy, I want to go to Timbuktu, can you take me? I read it might be dangerous, what do you think? Freda. PS I’m 90.”

Freda’s email required a direct response:
“Dear Freda, Yes I can take you, no it’s not dangerous, or no more than anywhere else. There are issues in the very north but they have don’t touch the interior of Mali or the route of our trip. Congratulations on reaching 90. I’ve managed 40! Let’s celebrate in Timbuktu!”.

Just before Freda set off from England I was travelling overland to Mali through Morocco when I pulled in for a coffee and saw, before a stunned, shocked and silent crowd, Gaddafi being murdered on television. This event was so seismic it would change everything, but no one could have predicted how quickly and how drastically.

Freda knew a thing or two about travelling so was not too concerned. She came and caused a sensation all over Mali, which like all of Africa, reveres age. For Freda it was a symbolic journey. Her partner had recently died. They had travelled together to 64 countries and Timbuktu had always been on their list as the ultimate travellers’ destination.

When we got to Timbuktu I was not worried. By this time I was very used to organising groups and taking the tiny risks that were there into account. I knew where our threat was based – very close to Aguelhoc in the mountains about 900kms to the north east, a 24 hour journey away. Our group were not high risk targets. We were British and Australian, countries that don’t pay ransom. I was aware of how an attack could be possible. They had to be planned, they needed good and concrete knowledge of who they were taking or they will be risking all for worthless goods. It could only happen where there was no chance of being stopped, going in or going out.

But these were uncertain times post-Gaddafi. To ward off the random risk of wrong place and wrong time I avoided the conspicuousness of the centre of town hotels, we stayed in a hotel south of Timbuktu secluded in the outskirts between the city and the river. An attack on us would have to come through the city, past the military camp, and out the southern side. The’d have to know exactly where we were and if they knew that they’d know who we were, which meant they’d know there was no money in us, and then they would have to go back through the city to escape back to the desert to the north.

We were in Timbuktu for three days. We strolled the markets, eat and drank out in the restaurants and bars and on one evening we rode camels out north into the desert to stay with a Tuareg family I know and had goat cooked in the sand, women’s Tinde music and slept out in the open to ride back into town in the morning.

A week after we left Timbuktu some tourists pitched up – a Dutch couple, a Swedish motorcyclist, a South African and a German. None of them had ever been to Timbuktu before though all were well travelled. They arrived on public transport without guides. They stayed in a cheap hotel on the north edge of town, probably recommneded by the Lonely Planet Guide, with a great view of the sand dunes of the Sahara.

The attack happened at 1pm on a Friday, when the city was in the mosque for the most important prayer of the week and was over 5 minutes later. The German resisted and was shot dead, the Dutch wife escaped. It took the Malian military an hour to give chase. This was the first and only time anything like this has happened in Timbuktu.

I asked Freda what she thought about my reassurance of security some years later. “I was safe. Luck of the draw my dear.”

In 1938, so as not to draw attention to their departure, Dr Freda Fleischer’s father put her and her siblings on the slower cross country train from Vienna to London rather than the Orient Express.

 

Paradise Lost: Aguelhoc 2012

The Timbuktu kidnappings were the first time Mali had been hit deep within its borders. Al Qaeda In The Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were responsible. It was a sign that something had changed.

As it had done every year since 2008 and those first warnings, The Festival In The Desert, with Bono attending, took place without incident in January 2012. Two days after the festival finished the first shots rang out in the far north in a new Tuareg rebellion ignited by the fall of Gaddafi and the return from Libya of former Tuareg rebels. Aguelhoc was the scene of an attack by rebels on its military base. Days later a second attack from AQIM ended in the massacre of all the Malian military. They ran out of bullets.

By this time France and the US had had military bases in Mali for about 5 years to help train the military in counter terrorism, yet no one knew that the Malian garrison closest to AQMI’s main camp in the mountains by the Algerian border had no bullets.

The Aguelhoc massacre infuriated the military, there were demonstrations in Bamako and a coup d’etat. All authority withdrew from the north – police, gendarmes, military, governors and politicians all fled leaving just the population behind. Tuareg separatist rebels swept down and took the north of Mali in 3 days without a shot being fired. But AQIM had already arrived, they were stronger and better supplied – no one backs a rebel – and the rebels were forced to give way. Mali was divided, occupied and centre stage of the latest act of the War on Terror. Other than those in the masscare of Aguelhoc, no bullets had been fired.

I have been back and forwards to Mali throughout the crisis and post French Intervention since 2012. On the ground, in the streets of Bamako or Timbuktu amongst the population you would not know this country was in crisis. The only sign of crisis is there are no tourists, and the UN have taken over big hotels and heavily secured themselves within. But anyone can go and sit in the bar by the Sahara Passion hotel.

The outside world began to leave Mali behind back in January 2013 following the French intervention that pushed the AQIM affiliated groups out of Mali back to Libya. We were all hoping silence on Mali would soon bring the tourists back.

Now Mali has bounced back onto the international stage with the recent attack at The Raddison Blu Hotel in Bamako. I was in Bamako in February, I will be there in January. I was no more at risk than you who are reading this and may never have been. I have been to the hotel twice. Nice pool.

 

Where do we go from here?
In 2013 I met some English tourists, twin sisters and their brother, in the desert of Mauritania. A week later the twins were killed on the dual carriageways of Morocco, possibly the best roads I know in Africa. They are the only tourists I have ever met or known to have had an accident in Africa. They died the way we are all always and everywhere most likely to die on any of our travels.

What should Petra and I do? We are planning a life that will base us near Kings Cross in London, The Atlas mountains in Morocco, Bamako and Timbuktu. It seems wherever we go trouble is sure to follow behind.

Was I at any more risk in Aguelhoc in between 2007 and 2010 from its attack in January 2012 than Petra was in London on 7/7? Was I less secure in Timbuktu in November 2011 on the south rather than north side of town than I was looking out from Windows On The World restaurant in New York in June rather than at 9am on September the 11th 2001? Is Paris safer than Bamako? How come I have been to Mali and Timbuktu very publicly every year since 2006 and people who had never been before become the first ever to be kidnapped?

We travellers of the world are praised for our resilience at home, going back to work, Americans flying, Londoners using public transport, Parisians back on their streets in defiant demonstration and going back to the bars and clubs to party.

But a trip to Africa? The praise, encouragement and defiance turns to alert, better to stay away, you can’t be sure, there is a risk, better red zone it.

No. We will hit the road to Bamako in January, I know my way I trust my people. I know that at any given moment at any given spot on the road from London to Timbuktu my clients and I are more at risk from another traveller on the road coming the other way concentrating on something else rather than his road ahead when we happen to be passing by.

 

War and Peace and Hamlet in an East and West Side Story

“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


(Post follows Paris Night Bamako Morning: Are We Being Followed in a Tale of Two Cities?)

Romantically, our stroll up the Cally Road through war and peace the night before Bamako morning began in Paris.

Vive La Revolution! Bastille, January 1990.

A new decade a new world for us both. Petra was getting used to being a teenager in Czechoslovakia with a broken Berlin Wall, natioanl identity crisis and French literature, films and art flooding east into Petra’s bedroom in the mountains of Moravia. I was getting used to a post-Thatcher Britain as a student abroad in Paris, living between two of the scenes of the recent attacks, Place de la Republique and Place de la Bastille.

Ah Petra! Those crazy youthful peace marching days!