Mali: Exploring Djenne

The entire village of Djenne is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and by law only mud construction is allowed – no cement, no regular brick – so the entire town reinforces the Tatooine look. People go around their daily chores amidst sandy and dusty streets and scorching dry heat, kids running around barefoot and dusty, donkeys and cows try to hide in the shade, and goats roam the narrow alleyways in search of edible trash. But the UNESCO money as well as massive donations from Aga Khan foundation are creating a construction boom here – seemingly everyone is in the business of mixing dust and mud and water, shaping this into bricks, and sundrying them into pret-a-construct materials – a real estate “do-it-yourself” bonanza. Also worth the visit is the library with incredible hundreds of original koran books from the 16th century.