2017-10-13 / Travel

Timbuktou, a trip into history

Part 3: Stuck in the mud
By Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D.


Crowds gathered at every village we passed. Crowds gathered at every village we passed. I enjoyed the wonderful activity along the Niger River: farmers tilling tiny fields of corn; shiny black children running alongside our boat; vendors peddling milk and fish; and crowds waving to us at every village we passed.

Suddenly, without warning, the boat ground to a screeching halt. Sailors ran to the stern and began shouting in French, “ We are on a sandbar..!!!” The captain looked over the side holding his cap and began shouting instructions. Within minutes, 15-20 fully-dressed men jumped overboard into the waist deep water. The captain shouted military type commands, and the men in the water placed the ends of their poles under the boat and pushed up shouting, Heave Ho! The boat slowly nudged away from the sandbar. Four more Heave Ho! s and we were free! Everyone watching cheered, “ Hip! Hip! Hurrah!” That night at dinner, the captain gave an emotional speech, and the waiters passed around bottles of hot and flat wine. Everyone, including me, toasted the captain, “ A le capitan! A le capitan.”


Child vendors alongside our boat peddled fish they caught in the Niger River. Child vendors alongside our boat peddled fish they caught in the Niger River. Continued Next Week



Men placed the ends of their poles under the boat and pushed up to free us from the sandbar. Men placed the ends of their poles under the boat and pushed up to free us from the sandbar.

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