Life in Mali continues at its steady, at the moment not to muddy, step. Life has been much of the same with test plots of new varieties of millet, creating a natural locally available insect repellent out of neem leaves, and continuously expounding (probably to some villagers’ annoyance at this point) on the nutritional benefits of Moringa leaves. But Mali life has also thrown me some exciting curve balls:  I confronted my first scorpion the other day and In our interaction I made sure to get straight to the point (that being the point of my shovel) and being that direct I think go my point across quite clearly…And I think I would take the scorpion over those damn unnaturally large sun spiders any day (I hope that doesn’t come back to bite me…or rather sting me I suppose). And The adventure of cramming 35+ people into a van–people sitting on the laps of people sitting on laps. Not to mention their stuff piled in and mostly on top of the van with some sheep, a few chickens here and there, a motorcycle, some more adventurous souls, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, tho as I said before that too I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had made it on. The funny thing being tho, once all 35 of us were crammed in literally 100 meters later we all had to get out and walk a stretch that was to muddy for a van with 35+ people and their stuff to drive on.

And the language is slowly coming along, each day strengthening my vocabulary and finding out I’ve been saying something completely and quite embarrassingly incorrectly. The other day for example I found out to my amusement but much more to my horror that for the last 3 months when asking people to wash their hands ( saying “bolo ko”, the bambara word for hand being “bolo” and “ko” being wash) I was actually asking them to please circumcise themselves…the word for circumcise being, go figure, “boloko”. AND in this one instance when you want to say “to wash hands” you use the phrase “tege ko”. So that’s probably some good info to know considering this has been going on for 3 months with EVERYBODY I eat with…2 year olds to my host grandmother. Not exactly the person you want to be asking such things to, especially during the very inopportune moment of meal time.

But as I have come to understand, life in Mali is very much dooni dooni (little by little) whether it be Bambara fluency or field work or simply getting from one side of the village to the other. You just take everything in stride, a muddy stride of late, but a stride nonetheless. And I feel slowly you gain moment to carry you into a little bigger and quicker dooni dooni. Not much else to tell at the moment. The slow steady pace of village life is swiftly growing on me, being in stark contrast to the rush so prevalent in American life. In some ways it’s a breath of fresh air.

Hope all is well! I’ll try to update again soon!

Mario

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