Wednesday, June 14, 2006
I just got back to Monrovia from my trip to Mali. After flying into Bamako, I took a 12 hour, overnight bus ride to Mopti. Mopti is primarily a salt trading port located at the joining of the Niger and Bani Rivers. The salt is brought down from the Sahara in caravans to Timbuktu, and then loaded on small boats for transportation to Mopti, where is is exchanged for grain to be brought back up.
The construction in the entire region of East Mali is entirely mud brick, with the walls recovered with a fresh layer of mud every year after the rainy season. The mosque in Mopti is a classic (although relatively new at 80 years old), of the architecture of the region.
The boats are made in Mopti. Local blacksmiths will melt down scrap metal, usually from old cars, for the nails and other running gear for the boats.
The wooden hulls are fitted together by hand by local artisans.