Yesterday was a big holiday for our neighbors in the village of Ke-Macina, and we called a handful of them to wish them well. It was a great opportunity to catch up and also brought back some great memories. Here is a video and some of my journal entries to remember some moments of the past year.
No, we did not take this video, I believe it was a visitor of another Peace Corps volunteer in our region. I love it because it is so similar to the scenes we saw, and it is a brilliant compilation of video taken on a point-and-shoot camera. It features the capital, Bamako, our regional capital, Segou, and a village in the Segou region that looks similar to Ke-Macina.
A few journal entries of mine (edited to change local terms for broad understanding):
8/20/11 Visited the local clinic, yard work, picked up some tomato poles, made some places to walk through the mud outside our front gate from old rice sacks...
8/21/11 Tied tomatoes, other yard work. Beautiful quick afternoon storm. Chacka over for dinner, showed him Outside Bozeman magazine and decided we are sending them a photo from Mali to feature... Really enjoy musing about our Close of Service and homecoming blow-out adventure.
9/19/11 Writing this while den kundi (baptism) dance party music is playing nearby. Went to fish raising formation this morning. Great convo w/ Mr. Coulibaly today about potential fishing farming in the rice fields, health murals, wanting to attend the clinic's board meeting, and world map murals. Good conversation with his wife about the importance of hand-washing for children. Picked up some water jugs this afternoon- one formerly for diesel engine oil, the other formerly for palm oil... Learned about personality stereotypes of the ethnic groups in our area - very cool. Thought a lot about American food and beer today, this experience will help us take NOTHING for granted when we return home.
11/15/11 Went to the clinic for work, high school chemistry teacher running the show b/c nobody else is there (MD and nurses out of town). Had a great African history discussion w/ my host father. Learned that president Toure aka "ATT" is coming to town and so is the NGO Luxembourg Development- when it rains it pours! Great week so far! Mike Williamson called today, is buying a plane ticket to come here next March!
12/2/11 It hit me today that I am really beginning to feel as if this place is a home away from home. I was so excited to get back here after going to another region for Thanksgiving, what a great feeling. December is shaping up to be our best month yet; many small projects to work on, maybe on big one. It doesn't exactly feel like Advent or the Christmas season though.
12/13/11 Back from a lovely Xmas in Segou with Miriam and Rob's families who came from the US to visit. It was far from conventional, but felt good none the less. Mass at the church in Segou was wild, decorated like a Mexican fiesta, with the nativity scene in a Malian grass shade hangar, and a dance party at the end.
A few good stories we heard from other volunteers in town: 1. Miriam's village children think she is a real live doll and some kids are afraid of her because of that (all dolls in Mali are white with long blond hair), so her family brought some black barbies to Mali to show them that dolls can be black too. 2. David B. tried to explain dinosaurs to his village when he saw a child playing with a dino toy at his local clinic. It was an unsuccessful explanation. One person listening said that he understood what David was talking about because his brother had "killed one of those animals while hunting last year"...
1/5/12 Went fishing in the canal- unsuccessful, but beautiful to be out in the rice fields at dusk with a nearly full moon. The clinic was boring today.
1/6/12 Started a new tree nursery: 53 moringa trees, 30 custard apples, 5 ziziphus, 10 flowering trees from the mission grounds in Sikasso, and two other random trees. Gave a huge zucchini from the garden to our host family which was grown by Coulibaly's wife after I gave her zucchini seeds awhile back. Tata and Kadi from our host family finally returned yesterday from Bamako, it is great to have them back.
1/17/12 Full clinic for baby vaccination day, 63 women with babies showed up for my discussion on what diseases are prevented and how many times to come for vaccinations. There is an overly complicated bunch of documentation that is done for this, but I am always grateful to Abdoulaye Ba for his help on vaccination day. The shade hangar in our yard was built today. Tata sprained her ankle and Safi has a toothache. Also a friend from home called, seems to be in a great deal of distress. I will try to get more phone credit tomorrow to touch base with him again.
*I only really started to journal in July of last year, unfortunately. I wish I could read some of what happened prior to that.
Stay tuned, I will post a link to ALL of our pictures from Mali, and maybe a little about our return road trip before we finally put this blog to rest.