Hey all, lots to tell and again a short time to tell and via a keyboard that has seen much better days–I swear all the typos are the keyboard not me! Life in the village is going well so far. I’m at a temporary village site for two months for language training and then I move to my two year site after the training. Just found out where I’ll be too! Its a smalll 800 person village outside of the Segou (the city) which is the regional capital of Segou (the region). I’m headed out that way soon (in 2 or 3 days) so I can tell more about it in the days to come. It’s small but sounds friendly and quaint–hope there is mango trees! Also I’ve already met my host dad who showed up early to Tubaniso for the volunteer-host family introduction. He seems very friendly, and we started joking about who eats beans (a joke that neeeeeever gets hold in Mali), who has a bean house, a bean family (shomogow–the “sho” meaning bean instead of “somogow” which is just plain old family, you get the jist tho) and I’m excited to get to know him better. He seems amiable and obviously quite the jokster so working with him the next two years I hope turns out to be a great partnership and a great friendship!

As for my current host family, I feel incredibly indebted to them. We just celebrated 8th of March, “Weet Marisi” which in Mali is treated like a holiday in its way. The women still work, but the men tend too cross that gender divide a bit more than usual and some cook a little. Its also treated as a  day where the women become heads of the household distributing money and running family affairs. For us, it opened the possibility of discussion tho, about how Malians view gender roles, where its socially acceptable for men to work and what jobs women are suppose to do and their role in the family. I got to cook my first Malian meal which was exciting, and for the Malian women incredibly funny seeing the novrlty of a man cook. As of yet I have been unable to do my own laundary, fetch my water without help, carry anything without a million kids trying to carry it for me, among may other things. But “dooni dooni” (little by little), first cooking then doing my laundary I’ll stretch those gender boundaries a bit farther, be a bit more radical challenging those gender norms (that’ll be doin laundary….) But on top of that mostly its alleviating the amount of work some of the women do in my host family–up at 5:30 before anybody else and last to bed (around 10 or 11 maybe). Incredibly long days! I was able to communicate too that I wanted to cook for them one night (we’ll see how that goes–wish me luck) but maybe some sort of classic stir fry with nakofenw (veggies!) and malo (rice). Yumm! It’ll be lots of cooking tho, considering my imediate  host family  (n ka denbaya) conists of almost 15 people (they couldn’t believe I had only two siblings, most Malian have close to 10) and then who knows how many aunts, uncles, cousins live in my compound of houses. I see a least 1 new face every day!

Speaking of my day, the past month has been pretty much as follows: Wake up at 5:30 as the mosque begins its morning prayer. From 5:30 to 7 I attempt, and usually unsuccessfully) to fall back asleep. At 7 its a bucket bath watching the sunrise (beautiful!) and fending of mosquitos (really more annoying than anything). Peanut butter sandwhich for daraka (yumm, sometimes with french fries…yess in the sandwich….yes, with the peanut butter. Don’t ask me why cuz I don’t know). Then off to bamanakan Kalan foo tilelafana (study until lunch) where we have a wonderful two hour break. Badly needed considering at that point i have Bamabara coming out of my ears on top of meltting away due to the extreme heat. Siesta of sorts, then after lunch back to the bamankan kalan until 5. Then I either play a healthy round of bolonton (soccer) or head home for some N somogow baro (chatting with the fam). I do this dongodon (day after day) to the point where Bambara is–as you might well have noticed now–coming easier to me than english. The consequences of full scale immersion I fear. But probably for the best.

Pictures coming soon so get a hold of Emily if ya want to see them. (month or so from now if the postal service is fast, ha ha) But things are trucking along well enough, I’m taking ewach day in stride. The two years is still a bit daunting tho I’m sure will go by incredibly fast and I’ll wish I had two more years! I can’t believe I just have a couple more weeks of training before I get sworn in as a PC volunteer. AND the president of Mali is coming to the ceremony!  In all honesty tho he really he doesn’t have to go far seeing as its at his house. ha ha.

Hope all is well tho! Hope to hear from you soon! And write to me, electronically or snail-mailly! I accept all!

Mario

Quotes of the month:

1) “Nyegen (bathroom) yoga anbody? First pose were gonna do is the squatting volunteer”

2) “Its called a whoopin, and they’re free all day!”

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