On the 26th we hired two of our guide Moussa’s brothers to take us to Niongono which Moussa had said were well worth visiting.
On the way we saw an interesting little village which turned out to be named Deguembre Nanda. We were attracted by the cute Dogon graneries. We met the head of the village–a guy with a scruffy beard and tattered cloths who was ahppy to receive 500cfa (about a dollar) for our visit. He handed the coin over to one of the kids and said it would be used to buy food. When we offered to send photos he wrote his name (Hamidou Yoinogue) and address and then when I handed him my card he started reading the phone number in English. A grizzled old man in 30 person village isolated on the plains, who we assumed was illiterate could write and speak some English.
Niongono was a fantastic village perched on a small hill on the plain. Like a fortified village, but not walled off. More than a hundred houses. We paid our visiting fee to the head of the village and he supplied a guide. Dramatic with more Dogon graneries and other architectual highlights. Main detraction was the fifty kids tailling along. Hoping for handouts and we’re the only things happening in the village.
It was only 30km (18 miles) to village with almost half on pavement. But the moto ride was a bit challenging. The basic Chinese 150cc motorbikes don’t have good enough suspension and power to handle the weight of two people, espectially with me sitting behind the rear axle. I think the driver was good enough but he kept washing out in the sand (front wheel losing control more or less). He never went over, but plenty of quick saves with a foot out. Louisa’s driver did lose it once and they both went over. Neither had sense enough to know when we should get off and walk. One particularly rough rocky piece that would have been nasty had we gone over. We asked to walk on the way back. Louisa had asked here driver to stop so she could walk. I assumed mine would stop since he was following, but instead he powered on almost hitting Louisa as she got off the bike. Also my driver had no sense that my head was six inches above his nore that my legs were further out. Picked up a sticker or two and had to duck once or twice.
The disadvantage of non-professional guides. But the villages were worth it.