Before I watched this video, I only remembered that Bamako was the capital of Mali from playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” as a child. After watching, I know that the people are friendly, the music is lively, and at least 100 people know how to draw a camel. American Phil Paoletta has been on a mission to travel in West Africa and draw camels, in no particular order. For this project, he raised over $1,000 for Malian refugees in Niger displaced from the north of Mali, and taught 100 people in Bamako how to draw camels in 24 hours. Why camels? They are “seductive and elegant animals,” according to Phil, and learning to draw one can only make your life better. Enjoy a few minutes of Malian friendliness, music and a whole lot of humps.
At the age of 10, I could place Port Moresby, Buenos Aires and Cape Town on a map with ease. Where did I get this know how? Not from school — our classes back then talked about little else than Canadian geography. Not from my surroundings either — living amidst globes and atlases wasn’t all that interesting to me as a child. Not even from my dad, who’s flown into so many places that I can’t even name three countries he hasn’t been to.
No, I remember exactly where my early affluence at geography came from. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?. Yes, the computer game that reached its height of popularity in the late 80s — back when floppy disks really were floppy — is where I learned about Lima and perused Peru, all while tracking down Carmen and trying to score more points than my little brother.
I’m serious. I played a lot of that game when I was growing up and I credit it at least in part for my travel addiction in adulthood. And while I wouldn’t say I’m a geography expert now, I’m certainly more knowledgeable than the average person. I don’t know if it’s still around, but I do know that it’s a great learning tool for kids. And I bet many people my age can vouch for that.