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Today we finished our three day hike among the Dogon. We walked along a dirt path (there are no roads through these villages) to Ireli, the last village we'll see at the base of the escarpment. During our visit we've enjoyed great hospitality, the smiles of villagers always lift our spirits, sometimes needed when our mood turns low after seeing malnourished children or incessant begging. We respect the Dogon for being self sufficient, despite pressure to adapt their culture to Muslim or Western standards. They live in villages without electricity, keep their own time, and haggle over their own produce in lively, cramped markets that smell of millet beer, charred meat, dust, and manure. We ended our stay by climbing up the escarpment and enjoying a panoramic view of the plateau.
Colorful names for Dogon villages along our three day, 35 km hike route: Yawa-Nombori, Komokani, Idjeli-na, Ourou, Ireli, and Bongo.
Women control the market scene. Amused by foreigners, they smile and press us to buy bowls of millet goo, beer, or onion balls.
The rhythm of Dogon village life kept by women pounding millet or walking to fetch water.
Circumcision is still very important in Dogon culture. For boys the removal of the foreskin, without anesthesia, is the first step into manhood. Yikes! The ceremony takes place every three years and the boys sing songs and paint symbols to keep their minds from the pain. Even scarier, female circumcision (removal of the clitoris) still occurs even though it has been officially banned by the government.