We began talking about a journey to the Dogon before our great odyssey in 1973. A friend of ours travelled regularly through the Sahara to Mali to visit the Dogon. His passion for their culture, masks and sculptures included, was so great that he worked for six months as an architect to be able to travel the other six months. His stories about the Sahara had stirred our imagination. One of his lessons was: in case of trouble never leave your vehicle.
Entering the Sahara, in the hamlet Reggane, Algeria, we signed ‘the book of the dead’. In case one didn’t return, the names of those who had disappeared without leaving a trace would be known. We got permission to lift a stone under which there was a little stream of clear water. We filled five containers of 20 liters each. A sign with Mali on a wooden pole was moving in the wind. From Reggane to the border with Mali was 2000 km. No other sign would follow.
I drove southwards until the evening when we got stuck in the sand. We decided to sleep and to solve the problem early morning. When it became light, there were no traces left and every guess in what direction to go was as good as any other one. The car didn’t move an inch. We realized that we had lost the common track and with the track our orientation. The children began to sing: we are sitting here but we always get out, instead of their usual song in the desert: we are sitting here and we never get out.