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We must see the rest of West Africa, so we drove on a shocking road, literally, into Mali's interior. We drove for hours, mostly at speeds below 20 km per hour, sometimes inching the truck past large potholes or over broken, rocky ground where the road is not a road at all, just a tire track impression. We passed small towns named San and Segou and then pitched our tents in isolated and barren savannah. Mosquitos kept us company as we relieved ourselves behind a bush or in a stand of dried grass (few trees grow in this arid region). The flat landscape isn't as diverse as Mali's population. In the coming days we'll visit Fulani, Wolof, Bozo, Dogon, Songhai, and Tuareg villages.
Many Malian women tatoo their faces. Some women permanently blacken their lips, gums, and the skin around their mouth with a dark ink - red lips and gums are considered unlucky by superstitious Malians.
We see dyed-indigo cloth everywhere. These clothes look good but smell funny. Some people believe that Indigo smell wards off mosquitos.
At a local market, Jill perfects the art of negotiation.