Here’s a poem from the book Riding with Echoes of Desire. Written by the most traveled Filipino and one of Philippine Global Explorer’s Founding members, Lourdes Odette Aquitania Ricasa.

Timbuktu, the end of the Earth?

The most rhythmical of African names
Synonymous with Africa’s mysterious inaccessibility
An end of the earth allure
We just have to reach
Trembling with excitement
Bony nomads driving the cattle
Mudbrick palace of the imam
Whirring ceiling fan
Embracing Allah for a few electric minutes
And then the sand dunes
During teenage years
Dreamed of walking the edge of the Sahara
Stories of deserts and rivers
Lucrative trade
Fragile treasures
Old homes with incomparable character
Hand littered manuscript
Stored in caves and cupboards
Live poetry composed in Spain
Centuries-old essays
Astronomy optics
Medicine ink concocted from black oil
Myriads of salt slabs
To fatten the animals
Koranic schools
Antique memory aid for learning algebra
Students sing out equations
We bucked into town
In our dusty humvee
Zigzagged across the dunes
Papa and Mikael our drivers
Wealthy terminus of camel rides
Caravan route
West Africa and the Mediterranean
Encampment for Tuareg nomads
An old woman Bouctou
Tended the animals
The town became known as Timbouctou.
A trading center
Dyingerey Ber Mosque
A forest of one hundred sturdy pillars
Interconnecting rooms with holes in the walls
Sidi Yahiya mosque
Thirty-three saints lived in Timbuktu
Mysterious black magic
Door that cannot be opened
Evil spirit will be released to the world.
We went on a journey
On a slow boat
The Grand Niger
Waterways that provide the country’s lifeblood
I went to Timbuktu
And back

Guest Contributor: Lourdes Odette Aquitania Ricasa