Alright so that probably sounds terrible but in a country where the average woman has 7 children and up to 30 en brousse (where we volunteers generally live), you have to keep those little buggers in line somehow. That somehow is generally with a solid smack of hand on kid. Apparently though, the hitting can only be done by an older person to a younger person… So, for example, a sister who is say, 8 sees her younger brother, say, 6, doing something she doesn’t approve of… smack. But… it is only supposed to go in that direction; unless of course, the younger kid has yet to learn the proper etiquette of hitting in which case a smack will lead to another, reciprocal smack.
Alright… since I last wrote (which I realize it’s been a while…) I spend a couple more weeks at site where I read, chatted, wove straw hats, drank tea and painted a mural at the maternity. A couple fellow Fulfulde speaking friends also did murals around the same time. While I chose my mural location because I wouldn’t be seen by anyone while painted it, Penda (Meredith, in another life) invited the whole village to help her paint (a much more Peace Corps way to do it). I think both of our murals turned out pretty well having taken opposite approaches. Working with Malians can be super frustrating… she’s got stories of no shows, delays, globs of black paint on white backgrounds, red people... All of which were fixed to be beautiful but after perhaps a little stress…
June 10 I came into Sevare via random ngo worker. Because that’s how it works here. If you have a car or means of transport you have to expect people asking for rides. Malians are super generous people and I have yet to have been turned down… although there’s, of course, a first for everything. We had a COS (close of service) party for one of the volunteers in Sevare the following day so I made a chocolate cake which turned out better than I thought it was going to. Inspiration for future culinary adventures, hopefully.
July 13 we went down to Bamako via African Tours. For a country with such terrible transportation, this was pure luxury. Air conditioning on the bus, we only left a few minutes late and made very few stops, one of which being at a lunch place where we were given a 1000CFA voucher for lunch! Regardless, I was beat when we got to the Bamako stage house (probably a result of the 2 hours of sleep I had gotten the night before… miiiight have had something to do with it). Monday morning, day one of our In Service Training (IST for acronym happy Peace Corps staff) I ran a half marathon from the Bamako house to our training center with a few people. Averaging about 10 min/ mile… with no expectations that was juuuuuust fine. IST was a blast. The first week was just for volunteers and while there were sessions to attend, there were also 60 friends to chat with, bonfires to make and even a little Bamako exploration to be had. The second week brought our homologues. Regardless of their presence, our little American haven wasn’t broken.
With the end of IST, no one was ready to call it quits so a bunch of us went to a little resort behind our homestay village. We were the only guests and definitely took advantage of the pool and service. With the 4th of July just around the corner, a bunch of people are headed to Manitali (a damn in the west of Mali where Peace Corps has another house) to celebrate. After being away from site for three weeks I decided to come back up north and postpone Manitali until a later date… Although I’ve heard it’s gorgeous so I can’t wait to go! I’m in Sevare now and will head back to site via bike in a couple hours when the sun cools down a bit ;)
Speaking of which…. I just got an amazing package with a thermometer so I can see just how hot it gets! For instance it read last night around 8:30pm, 95 degrees farenheit! Oh the records it shall read.