Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Another typical Day in Mali - 2001

Hi there,
Well, thought I'd write a few notes while the thoughts and memories are still in my head. I had a productive morning - did some organizing, started packing for Dakar (my free trip I won at the school raffle), baked some Blonde Brownies, read two of Uncle Jerry's sermons, took a nice bath, and made some Christmas cards. I want to get them done in time to send them along with a person leaving Mali this Tuesday. That way they'll get to the people in time for Christmas. At noon Peter (another teacher) and I left with our usual taxi driver and headed towards the Mande Hotel for a light lunch. Peter got the side of the taxi whose window opened and I got the side that the door handle worked. When we arrived at the Mande hotel, we chose a table near overlooking the Niger River. A nice breeze was flowing, in addition to the gentle lapping of the water. A light jazz band was setting up and some Malians in their pinasse were throwing their fishing nets into the river. Peter ordered some beef brochettes and I ordered some fish cooked with lemon juice. Looking about, with the fishermen, women washing their clothes by the river and the distant hills of the natural landscape, it was rather difficult to believe that we were still in a city of over 1 million people.
After a leisurely lunch, we took the taxi back to a local patisserie to get some footage for the school's recruitment video. I got the window side - a little breeze through the open window, accompanied by the exhaust and dust. We noticed that the dirt road had some improvements made to it.
Characteristically, the road was irregular and and slow to navigate, with deep craters which turned into mud ponds, claiming many a vehicle and tire. Now, you could almost drive straight, without the feel like you were in a bronco bucking contest. Perhaps it is being improved for the upcoming Africa Cup Soccer Tournament.
On the side of the road, not much had changed. There were still the sections at which vendors were selling their oranges (whose peelings are green), watermelons, and bananas. Other spots you could see scrawny chickens in small coops ready to be sold and beheaded. Then there's the fetish stalls, where you can find warthog skulls, skins and furs of many types, animal tails, and other goodies. And we can't forget the plastics stalls, where you can find buckets, plates, and containers of all sorts made from the bright tie-dye colored plastics.
As we were going over the old bride right before Amadine's, we saw the Fulani cattle and their herdsmen on the edge of the Niger river. Peter commented, "Wouldn't that be great if they walked past while we're at Amadine's?" Sure enough, that happened. After taking some footage of all the yummy looking pastries, we sat outside (under the shaded overhang, of course). Within a few minutes, the cattle began making their trek right in front of the restaurant. Slightly spaced apart, about 40 scrawny horned cattle with their herders began walking past. We were ready with the camcorder and got some great shots. Then they began to cross at the major intersection. I got a little bit of that as well. It was great being able to videotape a scene I have seen and only been able to describe in words. So, I added that to the recruitment video and will need to add it to my personal film on Bamako as well. It's so "Mali."
Well, I should probably call this letter to a close. If I want to get those Christmas cards written and addressed by Tuesday, I'll have to work hard. Can't forget the little get-together for supper by the Zanna's – the teacher who lives downstairs from me. I like that when we all get together and do things. Helps break up the time and reduce feelings of loneliness.
If you haven't heard, I can now get mail! So, send on the letters, photos, goodies, or whatever. It makes me feel special and important!
Love ya all!

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