Men of Salt
Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White GoldBook - 2006
Century after century, camels and their drivers have traveled the sands between the fabled city of Timbuktu and the infamous salt mines of Taoudenni, hauling supplies from the proverbial end of the earth to an even farther-flung outpost, deep in Mali's slice of the Sahara. They return laden with tombstone-sized slabs of solid salt. While nearly all of the great trans-Saharan trade routes have disappeared, the Caravan of White Gold--so called because the salt was once literally worth its weight in gold--marches on, spared by unmatched isolation. Hearing that the caravans were threatened by the introduction of trucks, author Benanav joined a caravan, becoming one of the few Westerners to do so. He visited the modern city of Timbuktu, a sprawling, dilapidated town of mud-brick dwellings, and haggled to join a caravan to a destination once used as a jail, the salt mines. Following his amused guide, Walid, Benanav lived for weeks among the camel drivers, marching eighteen hours a day for nearly a thousand miles through sandstorms and searing heat. Along the way, he learned how to care for and ride camels, mastered the threecup morning tea ceremony, and played doctor to impoverished salt miners. A gripping narrative of the unique Islamic culture, at a time when Western access to the Islamic world is increasingly limited, Men of Salt is a revelation, and an important addition to the literature of history and of travel.
Publisher: Guilford, Conn. : Lyons Press, c2006
Branch Call Number: 916.6 B45m
Characteristics: xvii, 220 p.,  p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 24 cm