Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Considered by many to be a mythical place with gold paved roads at the end of the world, Timbuktu does indeed exist… but it has seen better days. Once a bustling city in the center of many caravan routes through the African continent, it is now a struggling place, consumed by desertification, dwindling water supplies and years of war. Yet, despite its struggles, it still hasn’t lost its magical aura and its name continues to evoke images of remoteness and wonder.

Naturally, connecting with the world is not a priority in places like Timbuktu, where steady employment and disposable income are hard to come by. Problems with rebel fighting in Northern Mali in recent years have driven away tourism from the city, leaving many tourist guides unemployed.

Luckily for postcard lovers from around the world, Phil, Bintou and Ali run Postcards from Timbuktu, a service that helps unemployed guides in Timbuktu send postcards to supplement their income. Whether you’d like to surprise a loved one with a message from an exotic place, or just to add an exotic stamp to your collection, they can help you do it with just a few clicks. The postcards they send all around the world are precious, in both the collectible sense and, more importantly, to their livelihoods. Here is Mohamed, writing a batch of cards to send:

Postcards from Timbuktu

Each card costs $10, including postage which ranges between $2.20 to Europe and $3.75 to other continents. For context, people in Bamako (Mali’s capital) are making as little as $80–90/month… so it’s easy to understand that this isn’t really something they can afford to do for fun. Postcards travel from Bamako to Timbuktu and back to Bamako, before being shipped out of Mali. Each one of them will go through several motorcycle and plane rides on its journey to its recipients.

And now, an extra incentive to check out Postcards from Timbuktu: we were so pleased to learn how postcards are making a difference in this community that we decided to help! Postcrossing is sponsoring a giveaway of 5 postcards from Timbuktu, sent to random postcrossers.

To participate, all you need to do is to leave a comment below, sharing a fact you have learned about Timbuktu. Go discover its fascinating history, and come back to share your knowledge with everyone. And who knows… you might even find a postcard from there waiting on your mailbox soon! :)

This giveaway will be open for one week. The results will be chosen by Paulo's random number generator and announced on this post.

Postcards from Timbuktu

And the winners of this giveaway, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… sfichialos, pinsonne, Amaya_Ithilwen, reimira and WHMeg. Congratulations — and thank you everyone for your enthusiastic participation on this giveaway!

PS – We got word from Phil that the team in Timbuktu is a little overwhelmed with orders at the moment. While this is great news for them, it also means that it will take some time for all postcards and other items to be delivered. So please be patient while you wait — we’re sure it will be worth it. :)

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Writing prompt The writing prompts are an ongoing experiment that invites postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

August at last! Longer school breaks in the northern hemisphere typically happen in these hotter months, with families traveling together for their holidays… Which got us thinking about a suggestion from Norway_girl on the forum:

In August, write about a place in your city or area that you would show as a tourist guide.

Sounds easy enough, and it could be anything: a favorite attraction or viewpoint, or perhaps your preferred café? If you live in a big city, don’t be afraid to point out more unusual places, or something out of the beaten path.

So I’ll go first: if you ever visit Tavira, I would take you to see one of the oldest olive trees in Europe. It’s over 2000 years old, and still carries on bearing fruit, making shade, and putting our tiny human lives into perspective. 😊

What about you? What is special or unique about your hometown? Let others know on the postcards you send out this month!

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Thank you everyone for your comments on Postcrossing’s anniversary post — your kindness and thoughtful words were the highlight of our day!

Quite a few meetups took place all around the world on Postcrossing’s birthday last weekend, and we were so emotional watching all the videos and photos, we decided to share some with you.

In Tofte and Filtvet (two small coastal towns along the Oslo fjord in Norway), a large meetup took place that included participants from all over Europe. Together, they’ve wished Postcrossing a good anniversary by singing the “Happy Birthday” song in their own languages… what a nice idea! We cannot stop smiling when we watch this video. I hadn’t even realized that the song had a different tune in some languages, and was delighted to discover that it sounds just as festive in Greek or Norwegian!

In Portugal, a birthday meetup in July has already become a tradition. This year’s meeting took place in Setúbal (a town famous for its dolphins) and it featured a cute birthday cake. Gracinha, one of the participants, had just celebrated her own birthday last week, so the participants also included her name on the cake, and sneakily prepared a big card and gifts to offer her during the meetup. She loved the surprise!

Isn’t that just wonderful?

Postcrossing birthday meetup cake in Portugal

Across the world in Indonesia, the Postcrossing community came together to organize a postcard exhibition and meeting at the Plaza Semanggi mall in Jakarta. Looks like a good time was had by everyone at the event which stretched for several days and included live music and even a doodling workshop! You can see tons of more photos on their Instagram page.

Postcard exhibition in Indonesia Postcard birthday meetup in Indonesia

Hurray! People coming together and making new friends could not be more in the spirit of this project, so we’re delighted to see so many happy faces on these photos and videos. 😍 If you’d like to participate in one in the future, don’t forget to check the Postcrossing meetups calendar now and then, to keep updated on new events taking place in your area.

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Hurray! 🎉 It’s Postcrossing’s 13th anniversary!

Thirteen years ago today was the start of this great adventure that keeps connecting the world through postcards. It’s been a great ride so far, not without its ups and downs, but always a fulfilling and learning experience. On this special day, we’d like to say thank you to all of you out there who still take pleasure in sending postcards to strangers, trusting that this small gesture will make their days a little better. Thank you for believing in this idea, and for coming along for the ride — we wouldn’t have made it without you!

Sometime ago we went back to Braga and took a photo of the balcony where everything started, in a student’s house next to the university. Paulo points it out:

The birthplace of Postcrossing

It’s still there, now housing different students and being witness to their adventures. May theirs be as grand as this one has been so far! 😊

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The PhillipsFamily lives in a small town Minnesota, USA, where they homeschool their daughter Maya and use Postcrossing to teach her about geography and cultures all over the world. Some months ago, we received a very nice email from them, letting us know that Maya had won 1st place on her county fair’s 4-H project by submitting a presentation about Postcrossing and her postcard collection! 🥇 We were so proud of Maya that we decided to interview her for the blog — here she is:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I found out about Postcrossing from a friend who thought I would like it because I really like geography. I was hooked right away! I LOVE getting postcards from all over the world and learning about different countries and people. I’m always excited to get the mail everyday to see which countries I can add to my collection. Recently I received my first postcard from Spain. I have postcards from all 7 continents!

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

My family really likes geocaching together. We have seen so many beautiful places hunting caches. I also really, really like to read and play board games. My favorite books are the Harry Potter series. I play Legos a lot (thanks Denmark!), and also scrapbook.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
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I keep my postcards in a nice box. They are sorted by continent and country. My mama really likes that I can have such a big collection without taking up much space.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.
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One of my favorite postcards is from Gordon the Great. He is a cat from New Zealand who has to put up with Fat Dog and Skinny Dog. I’ve showed his postcard to lots of my friends because it’s so funny.

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

I entered my postcard collection into the county fair as a 4-H project. I made a big display showcasing some of my favorite cards and wrote a description telling everyone about Postcrossing and how they can join.

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I won first place in my age group and second place overall. I got a big ribbon for it! I was so excited because it was my first time entering anything into the fair. I hope a lot of people signed up after seeing it.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I was surprised when I received a card from San Marino. I didn’t even know it was a country until then.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I am passionate about reading. I like reading new books and rereading old books. Besides Harry Potter, some of my favorites are Calvin & Hobbes, Anne of Green Gables, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’m currently reading through Mensa’s Excellence in Reading book list. It has a lot of classics my parents like.

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