Hitchhiking to Timbuktu




It is a rare and precious moment in life when a metaphorical destination becomes undeniably literal.

When I grow up…
When I win the lottery…
When I am famous…

For me (traveler girl that I am) this metaphor was “When I hitchhike to Timbuktu…”

Months ago as I punched my time-card in a soulless summer job, I concocted an adventure that was sufficiently loony sounding enough to get me thru the grey days. It made me (in my itchy polyester work uniform) feel so gratified to say, when one inquired of my plans, “oh, I don’t know. I think I might hitchhike to Timbuktu.” I was in love with the lyricalness of it, and little acquainted with the logistics. But it sounded so stupid that I repeated it often, and somewhere along the line lost sight of the fact that I was mostly joking.

Fast forward some months, a lot of dust, 65,345 new friends named Mohammed……and just up ahead we see the first sign that counts down the actual kilometers to Timbuktu. It is rather dizzying really. I can now complete the trifecta of ridiculous destinations – Kathmandu, Kalamazoo, and the crown Jewel of passport stamps – Timbuktu! It is a funny accomplishment, but that is okay. I am a funny girl

But wow, what a long road to get there! Way back in Morocco I was beginning to prepare little excuses in case I didn’t quite make it. And then I met Kinga, and my doubt evaporated. From the moment we started traveling together I have been tempted to overuse the word “magic”. I have pulled at various threads of our story, and tried to weave them into some sort of tapestry to share. It never comes close to the palest shade of adequate though. There is no way to fit a sky that big into words so little. So I am resigned to just tug at little threads with my dirty fingers. But they are threads from a magic carpet…


Muchos Mostaphas – Marrakesh, Morocco

Drunk Drivers – Merzuga, Morocco

Feliz Navidad – Marrakesh

Bonne Anne – Tan Tan, Morocco

Walking Across a Minefield – Western Sahara

Hopping Trains and the Paris-Dakar – Mauritania

And Now We are Three – Mauritania

Senegal Border Woes – St Louis, Senegal

Dimanche a Bamako – Bamako, Mali


Festival on the Niger – Segou to Burkina Faso

Goodbye Kinga!!!!!!!!!




Most of the gorgeous photos on these pages were taken by my dear friend and traveling companion Kinga Freespirit. She is famous among hitchhikers because she once hitchhiked around the whole entire world.  Traveling with her was an absolute joy.  You can see more photos and follow her journey through Africa on her website.


Also, I was inspired to do a little art project with all the rich images of this journey. Check ’em out HERE