Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tut Tut - This Is My Hut

 Home Sweet Home

 View of our own compound from the patio

View of a mud house, thatched roof, thached hangar, and a Malian man

Last week we visited our permanent site village for the next two years. We spent 5 days with our counterparts who introduced us to all 8000 people in town one by one, including the big wigs. Our counterparts were extremely patient all week and did a great job helping us plow through a tough language barrier and begin connecting with the community.

Highlight reel:

  • Visited the village chief (dugutigi) with his council, gave him a ceremonial bag of kola nuts (like huge bitter peanuts that old guys chew for a little energy boost). That was a big hit, and the dugutigi said that he approved of our names, which means that we will go by Bintu and Salim for two years
  • Went to a class at the high school with Bintu's counterpart, Salim had to tell the folk tale of his last name in Bambara- many high school students laughed, watched gym class (fyi, the work out shoe of choice for young men here are jelly shoes. no joke)
  • Visited the local radio stations, there are two in town, and WE MIGHT GET TO DO RADIO SHOWS!
  • Visited the Mayor, Prefect, and the Police station
  • Saw the local health center, where we introduced ourselves to the directors and the doctor. We gave our Malian names, and they said their American names were George Bush and Barack Obama
  • Towards the end of one hot afternoon of greeting many people, someone in the village shouted at Anna's counterpart "Where are you going with those red people?!?!"
The village is relatively clean and well organized. It is on the the North side of the Niger river on a raised bank. The river is large now, and full of traditional canoes; we cannot wait to see it in the rainy season, because the riverbed is HUGE. The old part of the city is near the river, and stretches to newer developments as you get away from the river. There is a sort of dirt boardwalk, which seems to be popular. We have some electricity in the village including streetlights! (We cannot post the name of the village per Peace Corps safety rules, unfortunately.)

Counterparts: Bintu has a dynamic young high school teacher, "CAPI", who is a local legend because he is the soccer captain of the city team. He is married with a new baby. Salim's counterpart, "Madou" is a health relay (unpaid, trained health position that does basic healthcare for the community including vaccination days and education). He is a retired teacher who is old and kind. He has two wives who live in separate houses. We also have a third self-assigned counterpart, he is Anna's future boss, and he is THE MAN.

In short: it looks like a GREAT place to spend the next two years, start looking at your tickets to Africa.


  1. Bintu and Salim: I also approve, and have saved for you the largest kola nut that has ever been harvested in my region.

    -Zuntuli (Alex)

  2. I don't suppose we can pick up a live online stream of your radio show, huh? Too bad about that.

    Loving these updates. Your place looks great. I'd send a welcome mat as a house warming gift, but don't know how to say it in your new language. Also, with dust inside AND out, I'm not sure what purpose it would serve :).

    Love, Staci

  3. S&B,

    Enjoy your writings/pictures daily and am continually impressed with your PCV commitment! I can't say how willing I would be to live in a hut for two years. Maybe if it was an igloo...
    So glad to hear that your journey is off to a good start. Best wishes from KS.


    PS, Aedan says he likes your "castle," and requests I build one for him and Cole in the backyard. :)