Swear in was a blur of traveling, photo taking, celebrating, mustache wearing (and for some soon after, quick removal shaving) and nervous but excited anticipation for what lay shortly ahead of us at our new sites. We swore in on April 12 at the President’s house in Bamako, and actually were on national television. Pictures I believe can be found on my facebook page, there’s a link and there’s some on my actual page as well for any who are interested in daring the high level of mustache. The majority of the swear in was spent listening to speeches, some of which the volunteers gave, and then sure enough, swear in we did! And before we could really take our new formed status as PCV’s (Peace Corps Volunteers–no longer PCT–Peace Corps Trainees) out for a test drive or two we were ourselves driven off to our new sites (which is why we did the celebrating the day before!

And so having the lucky draw, in a manner of speaking, of having a site out in the middle of nowhere I had Peace Corps help me get installed at my village. Other poor unfortunate PCV souls had to fend for themselves with excessive amounts of baggage in tow taking public transportation (bus, bush taxi, donkey cart–yes, oh yes, donkey cart…sure beats walking!). My house–well two rooms–is actually not to bad off in the grand scheme of things. I got all the essentials set up such as a portable cooking stove (for days when I really just don’t see myself eating to or moni), water filter, bed, bamboo chair, and rug. Even got my frisbee hanging on the wall and a bookshelf! (home sweet home!) So life in my village began. DAY 1: “AND SHIT, what the hell are these little red things in my water filter….” Turns out the house might have somewhat of an ant problem. So with the onset of my first day, I dumped out my water and began to search for potential prospects to refill, and I turned to the water pump. For a week straight I suffered the awful tasting water (who knows for gods sakes why it tastes so bad) thinking to myself, pump water is sooo much better than well water, especially when the wells arn’t covered and who knows what’s getting in them. For a week I had people every time I went to the pump saying, “the pump waters bad” “its no good” and I’d blindly stick to my westernized view that pump water is always better then dirty well water and say, “no, it’s good”. (Note to self: maybe listen to the villagers with a bit more of an open ear because they probably sure as hell know what there talking about, as in this case they sure did) For a week straight and no more, once I finally realized NOBODY in my village uses the pump save one…me. So then where the hell are people getting quality drinking water??!!! I know most villagers don’t have water filters yet the water they drink doesn’t have sticks, insects, and dirt and I’m sure a whole load of other crap in their water that I see in the majority of the water in the wells conatain around peoples houses. So I searched high, I searched low, I asked and got vague answers, I asked again and got even vaguer answers…ok no, not really, just the same answers. I asked  around the village where I should go to get my water and they’d often point to the water pump (broken I might add, takes forever to get the damn water out, ha ha) but this magic well where I’ve heard from a few that the water is “akadi cosebe” (really really good) continued to be elusive. Shoot, another day of soapy, off putting, really-not-making-me-want-to-drink-water-even-tho-its-really-hot-out pump water. What mystified me was I never saw anybody drawing water for their drinking cannaries (at least for that first week). Finally I struck gold and through a full afternoon of sleuthing around the village my aimless ramblings finally proved fruitful. Hidden behind a fence was this “akadi cosebe” well, a fence I passed on a daily basis I might add. Go me! Never thought to look on whats on the other side of the blasted wooden fence….least for a while.  Hauling it back to my site I waited for the slow drip drip of my water filter through the scorching afternoon to taste what I would hope was not soapy, un-satisfying, stomach churning water. AND, let me just say the expression on my face was the best it had been after drinking a glass of water in a week. I’d found the Holy Grail and the water in the Holy Grail of a well was actually no half bad. All in a good days (times 7) work!

The next day finding ants back in my water was somewhat of a downer, but you know that’s village life as I’m swiftly discovering. You take the many downs in stride, and thoroughly relish those ups-from the bucket baths during sunset with the breeze feeling amazing let me tell you to thank god those noises I’m hearing I know are just a donkey’s and not that of a T-Rex…I think) So with a matter of perspective in mind, thank heavens its not scorpions in my water….

More to come about village life soon! (real soon I hope, I’ll try to squeeze in another entry to get ya up to date before I head back to site tomorrow for another month!

Mario

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