June 27, 2011

Weekly(ish) Photo Essay: A Few Days In

Being in Mali has really helped me to appreciate the little things.

When we arrived our kitchen sink wasn't draining. Well, one basin would sort of drain and the other would slowly fill with sewage water. Also, the light doesn't work in my bathroom, and I keep forgetting to ask someone to fix it. Needless to say, I'm slowly getting used to peeing in the dark.

But today our sink miraculously started draining again after a rainstorm, and I've never been happier! I can now do the dishes with both hands because I don't need one to hold my nose! And sure, the light in my bathroom doesn't work yet, but I'm sure when it does I'll be thrilled to not have to go to pee Hellen Keller-style.

The little things, I tell you.

Yesterday I finally went to pick up my bags, which thank god were both there (albeit covered in flies, and, inexplicably, chocolate). Kara also exchanged some cash for me, which meant I was no longer without possessions or money! Yay!

And I fixed my mosquito net! It's not suffocating me anymore!

Then Shahla and I took a walk down Rue Blabla (best street name ever), past Blabla restaurant, and took a walk on the other side of our neighborhood.

Shahla in the garden

The Mosque, where we got dirty looks for poking in our uncovered heads

Pollution, yay!

Remember the truck graveyard? This is the refrigerator graveyard! There's even an ice box!

On our way home we ventured into the little market behind our house.

It was crowded, muddy, overrun with children, and um, fragrant (for lack of a better euphemism). The "meat" was crawling with flies and the "fish" looked fossilized. But they also had lots of beautiful wares, the mangoes were copious and huge, and everyone was smiling, in spite of the smell.

Vintage pedal-operated sewing machines! WANT!

Walking back, we came across a group of boys playing soccer who really really really wanted us to take their picture. So we did. Again and again.

When we came home we had a pizza party with Koura (the 11-year-old girl), a couple of guys from GAIA (the organization I'm working for), and this random french medical student, Olivier, who sort of just showed up at the house. (He later explained that he worked with GAIA last year, and is friends with the executive director's family, so he knew we were here and was stopping by to say hi to us while he spends a few days in Bamako before heading to Burkina Faso).

We also went to see some goats. And donkeys. There are a lot of those everywhere. Très cute.

And we almost had a monsoon today. Here's a video of it getting windy: 

Oh! And our other neighbor (besides the goats) is a French Canadian who works at the Canadian Embassy! He stopped by this evening to invite us to a Canada Day party he's having at his house this Friday (after we passive-aggressively left a note with his guard to call us). He's been here for a year and knows his way around, plus he has a generator so his lights don't go out when there are black outs. I think he'll be a good person to know, especially when I'm here by myself for two weeks!

Not his gate. This is the Canadian Embassy. But how cool would that be?

This morning we visited the clinic where I'll be working, Chez Rosalie, in Sikoro. I was shocked at how little electronic equipment there was and the utter lack of modernity. But the doctors and nurses seemed to know what they were doing, and based on the reports I've read, there seems to be a pretty high success rate with the programs, especially the Mother to Child Transmission Prevention Program I'll be evaluating.

On the way to the clinic we stopped to see the Village Chief, a friendly looking old man placidly waving flies away, lying on a mat outside his cinder block house. There were chickens running around the yard, which was strewn with garbage, and two women and a baby sat quietly beside him.

I thought my neighborhood was poor, but apparently it's one of the richest ones in Bamako. And I realized that when we drove through Sikoro. There were children--no older than infants--with no shoes playing on the side of the road with piece of rusty corrugated metal. The shacks were barely even shacks.

At least the kids in my neighborhood have shoes and matching soccer jerseys...

1 comment:

Morgan said...

it looks like a valuable learning experience for you! and i've had to pee once or twice in the dark (though it was camping or village trips outside the country), no judgment :-)