My two months at site before IST are finished! (so are about 20 books to help me get through those 2 months…) Now it’s off to Bamako for In Service Training, learning how to make shea butter, tree nursery procedures, beekeeping techniques, and other useful tips and tidbits to bring back to my site and put into practice when I start my projects. Can’t wait-i’m excited to finally get things started! Seems like I’ve been puttering around for so long waiting for my language to improve and for me to adjust to Malian culture.  And speaking of puttering around, the last few weeks at site before IST were surprisingly busy. I was able to pass out the moringa shoots to the women of the village and they have them currently planted in their gardens. I believe most are still alive (I think…) so hopefully in a year the village will be having moringa salad and moringa powder in ready accessibility! I also helped out in a map painting project on the wall of a neighboring village’s school, this particular map being Africa and the Middle East so that the students got an idea of where Mecca is in relation to Mali and Mali in relation to the rest of Africa. The painting gave a nice creative outlet, and was already proving useful when several students came up inquiring where Mali was on the map. Thats when I realized how map reading is something I take for granted and for some villagers this might be the first map they have ever seen. It inspired me to do a similar project at my site, perhaps doing a map of Africa on the wall of the school in Farabougou and on the opposite wall a map of Mali. Something to look into!

I’m also looking into coordinating with a school teacher in New York, facilitating a correspondence between students in my village and the students in New York where they can talk about common and differing environmental/agricultural themes:  tree planting and harvesting (like shea and moringa), desertification in Mali and urban gardening in New York, local plant indigenous species, etc. So I hope i can get that going because it sounds like it could be an eye opening and incredible cross culture experience for both sets of students. Crossing my fingers!

Otherwise, life continues to throw me curve balls, lately in the form of traveling jumbles, stumbles, bumbles, fumbles, tumbles, a few grumbles, and whatever other “-umbles” there may be whilst one travels. I had the pleasure of getting kicked in the face on my return to Farabougou for starters. The guy somehow managed to fall from on top of the bush taxi, through the open side window (not sure how that one works since one usually falls down and not down a little and sideways a lot) and onto my face, or specifically my glasses which unfortunately didn’t survive the incident. I was a little dazed and quite a little confused as to how he managed this acrobatic feat with his feet and the connection of those feet with my face that I lost the broken piece of my glasses. So that would be the travel tumble I suppose and a couple of the traveling grumbles.  Oh well, it was a faster ride then on the way out of my site and aside from the incident at the end lacking any grumbles whatsoever. Rainy season has started to show its presence in the form of, well, water. Lots and lots of water. Still not the waist deep rivers on the roads I’ve been hearing the rains bring, but there’s definitely a few streams and an occasional small lake. This has resulted in many of my travel stumbles of late, the ankle deep mud making bike riding a near impossibility and walking a stumbling bumbling affair. On my way back out of site a nose bleed decided it was high time to give mario some traveling complications and quickly made its presence known while I was riding my bike trying to make it to my bush taxi before it left. So I suppose this is where the fumbles and the other grumbles come in. With one hand preoccupied with steering, trying to staunch a nosebleed on a bike with one hand is a fumbly and grumbly affair to say the least. But with nosebleed taken care of and tissues all fumbled I made it relatively safe and sound to my bush taxi with just enough time to spare to wait around for two hours. So after the wait, luckily the rest of the trip into Segou was grumble free. I mean, it was hot and cramped and sandwiched between two chickens as well as a baby who vomited half way through the trip but all that was nothing new and totally to be expected on a rather normal trip into Segou.

But with all these travel -umbles, which really haven’t been to bad, life’s going well, and tho there may be some grumbles here and tumbles there,  disgruntled mumbles and silly jumbles its completely overshadowed by the smiles of the Malian people, the warmth of their blessings and greetings and welcoming nature. It’s a truly humbling feeling with the realization of how little they have yet how enriched with life and love the Malian people are. I’ll be at Tubaniso next week so I’ll be able to update again soon! Hope all of you are well!

Kan ben soni