View Kansas to Timbuktu in a larger map
Growing up in 1970s Kansas, the exact middle of the United States, I always thought of Timbuktu as nothing more than an expression of distance, great distance. “It might as well be in Timbuktu!”
With its odd name and remote meaning, I didn’t consider that it was an actual place, somewhere in the world, far, far away. I suppose I didn’t really consider the world at all at that time in my life, perhaps Vietnam, because that was a place where there was a war and children didn’t have food so I had better clean my plate at the supper table.
Thirty years later, now I know there is an actual Timbuktu and where it is in the world. I know it was an important trading post in the middle of the great and vast Sahara Desert in western Africa. I learned this while traveling in Morocco, another place I had not given much thought to until I moved to Spain. While living in Spain and so near Morocco, its only eight miles from one coast to the other, it crossed my mind that I should take advantage of this close proximity.
Casablanca, Fez and Marrakesh were suddenly all close enough to reach out and touch practically. We ventured to Marrakesh and then further south, over the Atlas Mountains, to the edges of the Sahara Desert and the small town of Zagora.And it was in Zagora, I discovered the real Timbuktu. There was the sign telling me it wasn’t that far away anymore. Fifty-two days by camel to be exact… from Zagora.
(Which in and of itself might as well have been in Timbuktu.)
Though we didn’t actually make it to Timbuktu, experience Morocco with us through our pictures.