Through Jungles and Deserts
By Gianmaria Contro
In 1971, during his first trans-Saharian trip, Sergio Bonelli followed the route Rome-Algeri-Agadès-Gao and back, with his friends Gerardo Bamonte and Luigi Boitani, on board of their Land Rover. As a souvenir of the journey, Sergio kept two photographs taken by Boitani: the opening picture of this page, where we can see Bonelli sitting on the roof terrace of a humble and historical hotel in Agadès, Hotel de l'Air, where he also had Mister No sleeping during one of his African adventures; and the photo you can see here on the left, that became the cover for one volume of the encyclopedia "Geografia Universale", by Rizzoli-Larousse.
Sergio spoke about the background of this image:
Sergio Bonelli goes to visit the Agadès market.
"It seems unbelievable, but the 'cover-boy', pointed out by the arrow, it’s yours truly; with the help of two improvised guides, I’m going to take a walk into the extraordinary and enchanting market of Agadès, a town in the heart of Niger, and a gate to the 'desert of all deserts', the Ténéré. In this picture, on the right, those of you who’d read the African tales of ‘my’ Mister No have already recognized the unmistakable old tower that is the emblem of the city, and also of an entire culture".
"The way my image ended on an encyclopedia makes for a funny, but not too mysterious story. At that time, indeed, the travellers-photographers weren’t many and one of my friends, Professor Gerardo Bamonte, a huge fan of cameras and lenses, rejoiced in seeing his pictures, taken in the places he visited, printed on university or educational magazines. While I was passing by the stalls of the picturesque market of Agadès, animated by the Tuareg families who gathered there from the thousands of tiny neighboring villages, I still had no idea that my first encounter with a real Tuareg would happen a few days later...".