Thursday, June 24, 2010
Sansea Sparling traveled to the Tasseli Region of the Sahara Desert, in Southern Algeria, to live and trek with The Tuareg Nomads for a month. Sansea, a long-time New Haven resident, yoga instructor and adventure traveler, loves desert and loves to ride camel--yet this trip with the Tuareg into little-known hidden high valleys offered more challenges than she had expected. Thinking that only the first day of the trek would be walking, it turned out that all the many mountain passes were on foot, in the heat of the day, after cold nights. Walking, riding, eating, and making camp each night with eight Tuareg guides, thirteen Europeans, and thirty seven camels was exhilarating, exhausting and educational.
Two Americans, one Irish man, one German and six Swiss met in Geneva, Switzerland, to board a plane for Algiers, then on to Tamanrasset, southern Algeria. Setting out in Landcruisers for our entry to the great Sahara, after one day of travel, we met our camels, the vehicles departed, and we made our beds on the desert floor. The following morning, we struck out for the mountains, packing, walking, riding; unpacking, finding firewood, helping our Tuareg cook prepare meals, eating from common bowls, sitting on the ground; then packing, walking, riding, finding firewood, finding our sleeping places. We had two guides, one American, one Swiss, and a translator. In one way, the rhythm of the days was the same; the guides taught us camel and desert safety, Tuareg manners, and helped us shape our intentions for the journey, deepen our individual quests. In another way, each day was dazzlingly different from any other, because the fabulous beauty of the Sahara, ever-shifting, ever-changing, entranced and amazed us.
We dressed in Tuareg men's clothing; we traveled in the "Leave no Trace" ethic; we drank fossil water from ancient Tuareg wells and springs. We saw Neolithic stone animal art--ostrich, hippos, giraffe and elephant-- from the time when the Sahara was a sahel, rivers and lakes everywhere. The centerpiece of the journey, our three solo days, took place in a valley so hidden that we were told that it may be that no humankind had ever dwelled in that place.
To travel with the Tuareg is an honor and a privilege. Under the fantastic dome of constellations and shooting stars, campfire were cosy circles of camaraderie, language a funny soup of German, SwitzeDeutche, French, English Tamachek and Gaelic--stories sometimes were told in rounds: German, English, French and Tamachek. The Tuareg have amazing strength and stamina, are affectionate with one another, have obvious, strong familial bonds, and took exemplary care of us. We went on the journey to deepen inner quests; we came away with the Tuareg in our hearts
For a map to the library, click here.
The One-World Library Project is a “world library within a library” with a collection of books, films, and other media about world cultures. OWLP items are available for community members to check out at the Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol. The One-World Library Project also hosts regular programs at the library on the various fascinating cultures that fill our planet. For more information about the One-World Library Project please call 453-4147 or go to www.oneworldlibraryproject.org.
The Lawrence Memorial Library, which hosts the One-World Library Project, is located at 40 North Street in Bristol and has a full listing of items in the One-World Library in their online catalog, www.lawrencelibrary.net.
People are encouraged to recommend or donate items to OWLP that express the richness of their personal experiences with other cultures whether through family, study, travel, language, food, history, art or music. To purchase books or other media to donate to the project, the OWLP encourages the support of local bookstores such as the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.