Tuesday, May 3, 2011


We had to make a quick trip into Segou earlier than planned to take care of business (to "chi-la" as we would say in Bambara). Gina B., a former Peace Corps volunteer and co-worker, sent a letter with 11 questions.  We have answered the questions below, as we think they are a nice little snapshot of our village over the past few weeks.

1. What Wildlife have we seen?
-Not much.  We are in the Sahel (sort of a semi-desert ecosystem), so there aren't many animals running around, especially in the middle of town where we are.  Correction, no wild animals, there are cattle, donkeys, horses, chickens, guinea fowl, goats, and sheep freely roaming about town.  Sometimes there are 5 year-old boys herding huge cattle with horns down the street, not cool.

2.  How many times have I repeated my bio (who am I, where I am from, what was I doing before the Peace Corps)?
-Too many with our training group.  We have a harder time trying to explain to people in our town why we are here and that our names aren't "Tubabou".

3.  Have we pooped in a test vial to provide the Peace Corps doctor with a sample yet?
-Yes, one of us has...unsavory.  Today we are in the regional capitol to pick up medication based on the lab results from said vial.  No need to be alarmed.  But still gross.

4.  What funny things have we said to host country nationals?
-To many Malians that we come in contact with, everything we say is funny that we say in Bambara.  They frequently expect us Toubabus to speak only French. When we are able to get a conversation going in Bambara, it often takes people by surprise.

5. How Hot is it here?
- Hot season is peaking as we speak. We hope that we are over the hump and at least half of the hot season is behind us. It consistently gets to 110 degrees F without humidity daily and does not cool down much at night (high eighties). After about 20 minutes in the sun during mid day it feels as if we may not pull through. No exaggerating. Sweat comes out of places you never knew could sweat--literally drips down the leg, and sweat beads on the back of our hands. Our house is mud so basically it heats up like an oven all day. Temps in the house do not dip below 90 F, night or day. But when it is 110 outside in the afternoon, all of a sudden a 95 degree house is a cool resting place. The one consolation about hot season--it coincides with mango season. Delicious mangoes available any day in village.

6. Is this what you thought it would be?
- Not sure how to answer this, yes & no. Right now is the most ambiguous and challenging time as we are not really supposed to start projects for the first two months. Trying to get to know the language and the community and navigate daily survival tasks in a new country. Difficult to put in words...

7. How far are we from the country's capitol?
- 8 hours by bus...stops are frequent and top travelling speeds are low. I imagine a car could do it much faster...not sure about the actual mileage, Dane- can you fill us in on this?

8. How big is our town?
- Estimates range from 6,000 - 8,000 which makes our site a "town" and less so a "village." It is well organized and there are 6 different neighborhoods (called quarters). Streets are numbered, but street number and name are not used.  This weekend is the finals for the soccer tournament between the quarters, and our quarter is in the finals!  All 6,000-8,000 people will be at the finals because they LOVE soccer here, so we will try to get a count then.

9. Is there anything friends and family can send?
- Anything!  But to narrow it down...FOOD. Coffee singles, gatorade powder, tuna packets, dried fruit, candy and anything that can be cooked on a stovetop (by adding water/oil/milk). Any fun surprises from Ameriki are welcome.

10. Do we miss snow?
- After the frozen UHaul trek across ND in January, we never thought we would say so but we DO miss snow.

11. When is a good time for people to visit?
- Jan/Feb 2012 or Mid Sept 2012 through end of Jan 2013
- We do not recommend Hot Season (March - June) or Rainy Season (June-Sept). We also don't recommend visitors in our first year as it is critical we settle in with the community first--> trust us, you will want to wait until our language improves.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - so different from my (mostly urbanized / westernized) world travel experiences of yore! I think of it as a kind of cultural/geographic "Ridge Run" or "Ultimate" experience,stretched over two years... I love your exuberance, panoramic descriptiveness, and candor! You two are so alive, and you bring the places, people and experiences to life for us.