Stuck up a water tower in Timbuktu by Misha Somerville

I decided to climb a water tower.  Half way up I started to question my plan; perhaps unsurprisingly ladders always seem to get more difficult as you get higher.  I avoided looking down until some locals started shouting at me.  I looked up to see how much further I had to go and spotted four or five owls higher up on the ladder where it was enclosed by the water tank.  Just at that second a volley of owl shit rained down on me.  I laughed at the absurdity of the situation – covered in owl shit and stuck half way up a water tower in Timbuktu – I had just wanted a good view from the top of the Water Tower.  In any case it became obvious that climbing back down would probably be a good idea.
Such was Timbuktu – you’ve got to make your own entertainment.  Fortunately I had good company; I’d met a French guy Damien on the cargo boat, and had been sharing laughs and hassles since then.  Later on I was playing some music – a few tunes on the whistle, out on the roof of one of the village’s mud houses.  As it turned out Damien was a really good juggler and there was soon a crowd of people watching us.  They stood keeping a distance, watching us like we were some sort of wild animal, until one little boy plucked up the courage to come closer.  He walked slowly, stopping every so often until he was up on the roof and a few yards away from us, and there he stayed – mesmerised – while the others dared not come any closer.   Although interesting to me at the time, I didn’t realise how much this little experience might influence and inspire ideas in the future.

I decided to climb a water tower.  Half way up I started to question my plan; perhaps unsurprisingly ladders always seem to get more difficult as you get higher.  I avoided looking down until some locals started shouting at me.  I looked up to see how much further I had to go and spotted four or five owls higher up on the ladder where it was enclosed by the water tank.  Just at that second a volley of owl shit rained down on me.  I laughed at the absurdity of the situation – covered in owl shit and stuck half way up a water tower in Timbuktu – I had just wanted a good view from the top of the Water Tower.  In any case it became obvious that climbing back down would probably be a good idea.

Such was Timbuktu – you’ve got to make your own entertainment.  Fortunately I had good company; I’d met a French guy Damien on the cargo boat, and had been sharing laughs and hassles since then.  Later on I was playing some music – a few tunes on the whistle, out on the roof of one of the village’s mud houses.  As it turned out Damien was a really good juggler and there was soon a crowd of people watching us.  They stood keeping a distance, watching us like we were some sort of wild animal, until one little boy plucked up the courage to come closer.  He walked slowly, stopping every so often until he was up on the roof and a few yards away from us, and there he stayed – mesmerised – while the others dared not come any closer.   Although interesting to me at the time, I didn’t realise how much this little experience might influence and inspire ideas in the future.

Extract from Bamako Boom Boom by Misha Somerville.

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