In Mali, amidst the vast Sahelian plains, lies an impressive escarpment named the Cliff of Bandiagara which extends for 90 miles. This surprising geological formation creates a microclimate where humidity and aridity coexist, allowing lush vegetation spurts in a quasi desert setting. The area surrounding the Cliff is called Dogon Country and is inhabited by the Dogon people who took refuge there many centuries ago. They built their traditional dwellings directly onto the rocky slope, making it an architectural gem and an unforgettable sight. The isolation and rough terrain of the area allowed the Dogons to keep their independence and preserve their unique ancestral traditions based on animist beliefs, which celebrate the sacredness of the soul.
Travel memories, like treasure troves of the mind, require very little to seep back into our lives; a rhythm, a color, a smell, a taste, an emotion. I can see myself standing there, browsing the outdoor market at the base of the Cliff, admiring the beauty of the women wearing the striped indigo loincloths that tell of their marital status. I can taste the tart yet sweet red hibiscus flower beverage. I can smell the captive humidity of the arid soil, the exotic wood carvings of a sculpture, the stretched leather of a djembe drum. These are the olfactive memories that embody Pays Dogon: textured, raw and authentic.