A jacaranda tree grows on Maobi's grave. I picked up a seed pod when I was in Spain last year to learn some dressage for the benefit of my highly trained horse. There are no jacaranda trees in Mali, although Nairobi's streets are lined with them. It would be a fitting tribute to my wonderful and highly strung stallion, if the first jacaranda of Mali were to flourish over his grave...
Pudiogou my groom is on holiday in the Dogon country, and looking for a new horse for me. Apparently he has found a lovely mare, neglected but with much potential. I will go and check her out in a few days. Meanwhile I found this entry in my diary, written just when I arrived back here in the beginning of July, but never published:
"The return to Africa is never easy. A couple of days of adjustment and exasperation,
and then suddenly there comes a moment when I remember why I am here and when I become delirious with joy at the strange and exotic life I live here in Djenne. These moments of epiphany often arrive when I am on horseback, like this afternoon with Pudiogou, when we took our customary hour long ride revisiting first the ancient burial grounds of Djenne Djeno, continuing by the dried out lake towards the road to Diabolo and retuning towards Djenne on the tracks left by the Monday market equipages of horses and carts from the villages and beyond. My feelings of euphoria suddenly evaporated however and were replaced by a strong instinct to run when we met a loose horse that came galloping up behind us- this is dangerous, because Maobi will certainly fight. Pudiogou is quick witted and brave, and Max, his horse, is not a fighter. He motioned quickly to me to escape down a side track while he took on the loose horse and deterred him from going further – I did not enquire how but galloped off with Maobi instantly, before he got wind of the loose horse. But even this event, later on when I was once more in safety, made me feel lucky to enjoy this adventurous life, many thousand miles from Ladbroke Grove…”