Artist Terri Gold explores "universal cross-cultural truths," and for this chapter of her ongoing series "Still Points in a Turning World" she headed to Niger.
Terri says: "There has been no tourism in Niger for six years now. There were just four of us. The woman leading the trip, Leslie Clark has had a foundation there, The Nomad Foundation. We were the only guests at the festival amid thousands of nomads - being nomads there is no fixed date or location we had to patiently search and were thrilled to finally find their annual gathering.
"There was nothing done on our behalf, this was the most authentic experience I have ever witnessed. We had 18 armed guards which the government insisted we travel with. All had Kalashnikovs and there was a 50 mm machine gun on each truck. One ahead of us and one at the rear. I have never traveled like that before. We were graciously welcomed by the nomads but right after we left al Qaeda spilled over from Nigeria and we would have had to cancel the trip.
"In this remote corner of northern Niger indigenous tribes are holding on to their way of living: in tune to the rhythm of nature, treading lightly on Earth, leading their beloved animal herds to precious water sources and staying true to their traditions. Surviving in these sunbaked landscapes, each tribe has created a richly unique identity. Yet the timeless past will soon meet the imminent future. What will be discarded and what will be treasured? If we appreciate the mysteries of every realm, we may gain a deeper understanding of that which lies both behind and ahead of us."