Puff Encounters the Tuareg
After his ‘battle’ with Puff Saint George returned to Ethiopia and every Saturday Tom would visit Puff in the mountains and listen to his stories and often some of the villagers would go with him. Then on the next market day Puff came down the mountain to the garden in the Red Dragon where many of the villagers were gathered.
“Did I tell you about my trip to the Sahara?” Puff asked the villagers who had gathered round him in the garden of the Red Dragon. So he began “I was feeling very lonely and rather bored one beautiful sunny day so I flapped my great wings and flew up into the blue sky and across the mountains and the green fields of England. Soon I was crossing the sea to France then over the magnificent snow capped Alps. It was quite cold flying over the mountains, but soon I was crossing another sea. The Mediterranean Sea. It is called that because it is Latin for middle earth, not to be confused with Middle-Earth where Smaug lives of course. On the other side of the Mediterranean the land was very different. It was brown, rocky and sandy with big sand dunes, as far as the eye can see.” This was the Sahara Dessert.
By now Puff was beginning to feel a little thirsty so he looked around and saw in the distance an oasis with a pool of water sparkling in the sunlight and surrounded by palm tress so he landed by the pool and enjoyed a cool drink and as he was now rather tired he found a shady spot and went to sleep. He was woken up by voices coming from within the oasis. The sun had set a little while ago and the sky was full of stars. He couldn’t remember seeing so many stars before and there was the Milky Way arcing across the night sky. The voices were from a group of Tuareg seated in the circle around a pile of sticks which looked as if it should be a fire. Their leader Munatas asked Izemrasen for the matches, but Izemrasen couldn’t find them. He must have lost them as they travelled across the desert on their camels and are now lost in a sea of sand. “Oh dear” said Munatas “what are we going to do for a fire?”, but Puff had an idea. He picked up a big rock and dropped it into the pool from high up so it made a big splash and while the Tuareg went to investigate he quickly went to the sticks and puffed out a little flame to set then alight. When the Tuareg returned and saw the fire alight they were amazed and quickly set about cooking their dinner and making coffee. When they had finished eating they called upon their leader Munatas to tell them a story and so he began “It was a clear starry night at the Oasis when the Tuareg were seated around the fire and when they had finished eating they called upon their leader Munatas to tell them a story, and so he began, It was a clear starry night at the Oasis when the Tuareg were seated around the fire and when they had finished eating they called upon their leader Munatas to tell them a story, and so he began, It was a clear starry night at the Oasis when the Tuareg were seated around the fire and when they had finished eating they called upon their leader Munatas to tell them a story and so he began…”. “Enough already” cried Izemrasen “why do you insist on telling the never ending tale?” Soon the Tuareg were all asleep and Puff dozed off too.
When Puff woke up the sun had risen and the Tuareg had already set off on their journey across the dessert. Perhaps they were on their way to Timbuktu or maybe Kano. Puff knew that the Tuareg were called “The blue men of the Sahara” and remembered why this was so. In northern Nigeria on the southern edge of the Sahara is the town of Kano which is famous for its dying pits. These pits in the earth are full multicoloured dies for dying cloth and the Tuareg were fond of a deep purple colour which was made shinny by the ‘beaters’. Two men with strong muscular arms and chests, but with withered legs, sat either side of a log and pounded to cloth with wooden mallets to make it shinny, but the dye was not ‘fast’ and came out on their skin turning it a blue colour. Puff was pleased to have encountered “The blue men of the Sahara” and help them with their fire, but now it was time for him to continue his adventure.