Hello, readers. It has been a while since I’ve posted, though I can’t say that I’ve been terribly busy. My life is feeling very Malian indeed lately, and it’s wonderful, and November is here! What a thing to behold.
I haven’t the organization this week to put together some large topic to post on, so I’ve decided to share with you some small anecdotes from my time here.
Why I Dislike Coal:
Often I am reminded of camping trips during the summer time in the US, when all of the kids are sitting around the fire, staring intently into the red coals before them. Eventually, someone cannot resist throwing some various items into the flames, to see them sizzle or melt or pop up and crackle like a tiny firework. Perhaps it is a paper plate, a soda can, or a serving of vegetables you can lie to your mother about having eaten. Thousands of miles away in Bamako this exciting experimentation with fire is a nightly routine, the coals that warm the tea being equivalent to the camp fire. First the items will start out small; the younger boys will throw in a few plants when their mom looks away. Next, perhaps some pieces of plastic, or your little sister’s favorite toy. Into the heat it all goes, and creates such interesting scents! Once the adults have surrendered against the muggy heat and persistent mosquitoes to retire inside, the games truly begin, and the tea is altogether forgotten. The final treat of the night is to pour cool water over the coals, what a delightful sound!
Despite how entertaining this is for the young population of my household, I honestly wish they would get some stovetops up in here, because it’s only fun when I’m camping.
Earlier this week, I went with the other Americans to a village close by which serves as a large orphanage for abandoned children. The tour of the various compounds, schools, and sports fields was impressive, and I enjoyed getting to see a bit of the Malian countryside. There is an interesting weather phenomenon here called Benea, which is a gray haze that coats the sky in every direction, enveloping the sun, sort of like sticky fog. It makes me think of the moments when you’ve just woken up and the lines are still blurred between your dreams and your thoughts. Anyhow, on the day I went to the orphanage, the Benea was pressing heavily down on the back of Bamako. Looking out the window of the bus at the endless fields of tall green grass and an occasional friendly tree as the Benea gradually melted away, I went very peaceful. I think that Mali is a beautiful country, even if I do not know her well.
After the tour was over, the head of the orphanage requested that us five American students each plant trees around the property. So, with a well-used shovel thing and some soil that was more like gravel, I got down on my knees and planted two small trees into the Malian earth. Though it was something very small, I felt happy about having left my mark, and perhaps I will return someday when the tree has grown tall.
Rice (it’s what’s for dinner)
Evolution at its’ finest, I have decided, is the tiny worms which crawl around uncooked rice, being the exact same color and size as a grain of rice. A job here which will never be finished is sifting through the rice, searching out these tiny worms and small pieces of wood that inexplicably seem to replenish themselves during the process of the search. Because rice is the major staple here, each night I go to my bedroom with chalky-white hands after having helped our cook, Mariam, complete the task. The members of my family seem to think it’s very funny that I can clean the rice at all, despite that it’s a fairly mindless job. I explained to my host siblings that in my home, we buy rice that is already clean, but I do not think that they understood. I will take home with me such interesting appreciations; for clean rice, for cool nights, for free smiles, and above all else for my family.