Thought I'd share a few things about how homes are situated here in Bamako. In contrast to many cities that I've visited, I have not seen the "rich" areas and the "poor" areas. For example, when I went to Mexico City, there were some areas especially outside the city that were "squatter" settlements. All the homes there were basically lean-to's created with scraps. Then in other parts of the city, there were lavish homes - almost in an island onto itself.
In Mali, by contrast, you will find a nice house next to a small poor one here. Take for example our duplex. Right across the street is a cement home - small to medium size. There are no glass windows or doors; goats, chickens and other animals run around and do what they please; children there are clothed either with american hand-me-down's or sometimes with only a pair of underwear - or less. A few houses down again is a large home (several stories). Ambassadors live right next to poor houses; they may have open sewer gutters right in front of their homes. In a way, I kind of like it - I get a much better idea of how the common people live and don't feel so separated. Although, I would rather not have the open sewer in front of my house :-* Most of the larger homes are constructed out of cement mixed with sand. Workers create the bricks right in front of the construction. Work seems slow, I think in part to the midday heat. In the villages, the homes may be built out of mud bricks. The roof may be thatched. Some are single one-room round huts, while others are built around a courtyard. I'll have to say, most of the common homes here are nothing of beauty - the home does not seem to be one's castle here.