Monday, September 1, 2008

Mali Packs Heat like it's the Oven Door

I know it has been far too long for another Josh adventure update. I am a working man now though and it my stories are a month replaced from when they happened so it is difficult to get motivated. Anyway more on the working man Josh in a few blogs for now I'll just try to tell you what I remember from Mali and Togo. If anyone cares. And yes I know my Aunt Sarah cares.

So after Cote D'ivorre, we took a flight to Bamako, the capital of Mali. We were traveling with our friend Emily f***ing Doerr, who is in her second year as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Kaye. From my short week of being thrown into the world of a PCV, i came out confused. They are the strangest bread of people. Although I guess I can't hate because they dedicated 2 years of their lives to try to do some sort of good, so daps all around to the Peace Scorpions. One thing I learned is that PCVs love AOU (Acronym Over Use). Everything has a acronym. I also heard some terrifying stories (TS) about ET (Early termination) of PCVs for such things as: US (Uncontrollable Sobbing), RATE (Running away to Egypt), FIL (Falling into Latrine), DIP (Drunk in Public) honestly though how could you not be, RMBWH (Rideing Motobike Without Helmet). Just crazy stuff like that.

We woke up early in the morning, like 5:00 am bus early, after staying in this super weird hotel in Bamako. The Bus ride took 8 hours through some of the most beautiful African landscape I had yet to seen. I put on some STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) and just watched Africa pass by. It was the type of Africa you see in movies with just huge open nothingness and those sweet Savannah trees, and it was the rainy season so it was all green and super HS (Head Stasch). Anyway besides the beautiful landscape the bus ride was pretty terrible. I don't enjoy being up so early and then shoved onto a bus that was entirely too hot and long.

We finally arrived in Kaye and I was a complete mess only to go outside and feel the real heat. If you're from Arizona you know the feeling of stepping out of a nice air conditioned building into the radiating heat in the summer. This was kinda the same thing but instead of a nice air conditioned building, I stepped out of a cramped, smelly, hot, gross bus to what I can only imagine the inside of a volcano feels like. Anyway, we made it and were now staying at the bureau? stage house? I dont know what it was called but it was the house that all the PCVs go to when they need to get away from the village life and play with the running water and electricity. Sadly the running water and electricity would just turn off multiple times throughout the day, I mean its Mali one of the poorest countries in the world. It was so hot we ended up spending most of the day thirsty and laying under the ceiling fans when the power was going. We did however manage to find the energy to rage Kaye a few times.

One night the PCVs decided to make some chicken and potatoes noodley thing. So we went to go get the chicken. I kept looking for the Safeway but I guess they havent made it to Kaye yet. So instead we went to the old naked lady who lives down by the Senegal River. When she saw us coming she threw a top on, thank god, and we decided to buy a couple of her live chickens that she kept in little round cages. She grabbed the chickens and I couldn't help but go watch them slice the necks. It was pretty gross, and definetly will make me think about buying those huge boneless chicken breasts at the supermarket in a different way. After the execution, the old now clothed lady boiled the chickens in a pot and afer a short time started to pull off the feathers with ease. Then she cut off the feet and ripped the head off with her hands. She soaked and cleaned them in another bucket of water and bagged them up for us to take back. It was quite a show.
One of the stranger things in Mali was that the people had difficulty pronounceing American names. Im not sure why, probably the same reasons that I have difficulty pronounceing Malian names. Anyway, to help move things along we were all given new names. My name was Balla Coulibaly, Michelle was Lala Coulibaly and Krista was Jalla Coulibaly. What your name is says a lot about you in Mali. The story goes (not sure where I heard this) that a long time ago there were many tibes that would be in these awful wars for some reason. Then one day they all decided to stop going to war and just make fun of each other based on the names of their villages. The way it works is that certain names are joking cousins so if you meet someone who is your joking cousins you are supposed to use some of the standard Mali dis'. For example: "You eat beans", "You're my donkey" , "You are my slave". Ya know weird stuff like that. Luckily for us the names that we were given the Coulibaly's are pretty much joking cousins with everyone. So every time we introduced ourselves people would be like "Coulibaly! Noooo, you are my slave, that is no good(translated)" and such. I dont know what youre supposed to think about that, but it was quite fun telling people that they ate beans.
I dont really remember much else about Kaye we spent a lot of time lying on the ground under a ceiling fan and watching movies. We watched "Kids" which has one of my friends in it but man that movie is messed up and I dont understand who would buy such a movie to watch over again and why that same person would bring it to a Peace Corps bureau, strange. Also, there was this real chill dog at the bureau named "Feely" which means to throw away in Bombarah (local language). She was super sweet and really dirty so we gave her a bath and she would follow us everywhere. One day we decided to go on a boat ride around the Senegal River, and there were a bunch of people washing clothes and swimming and stuff. Feely followed us out to the boats and then when she saw us pulling away she jumped in after us. I guess she isnt that good of a swimmer so I reached out and grabbed her dragging her into the boat before so floated down to Senegal. It was lucky that I am life guard certified, and that I didn't need to perform CPR, cause ewww.
I think that is all I got for Mali. It was way too hot and it happended like a month ago now so it is difficult to remember. I learned a lot of things about foreign aid and the Peace Corps. Pretty much what I got out of it is that helping people is really difficult especially when you come from a place that is very different from the way the local people have been living for generations. I truly believe that a developing country can only get so much foreign aid and that to make real change it has to come from within. Mali though is just a really shit place to try and do any sort of work. It is just too hot. I saw this donkey standing under a semi truck and I was so jealous that he got just stand in the shade. I think i may have been a little dehydrated.
So ill leave you with a joke that is pretty popular with the PCV crowd. "There is this guy and he is just walking along in the jungle minding his own business probably singing some lil Wayne track when all the sudden he steps without looking and falls in this huge hole. He is stuck and can't get out. Luckily for him a missionary comes walking along and sees the man in the hole. The missionary looks at the man andsees his desperate situation and throws a bible in the hole and walks away. After reading the bible a few times the poor fellow is still stuck in this hole that is apparently too deep for even Jebus to help get him out. Another turn of good fortune for this poor booger was that an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) sends a representative who throws a bunch of money into the hole. After counting up all the money the man is still stuck in the hole and now richer but there are no taco bells or Little Ceaser's in the hole so he can't spend the money. So then a PCV comes along with his backpack and jumps in th hole. The man in the hole asks him if there is something in the backpak they can use to get out of the hole. The PCV starts unpacking the bag and says "No, i've come to live with you for 2 years." Allright sorry it took me so long to get another one of these posts done. I can't wait to catch up and let you know what I've been doing in Elmina (that is where I'm living now).
Teasers for next time. Togo, Malaria, Accra, who knows? Opposite of Bon jour to ya.


DudeBro said...

Hey man, very sweet stories. Keep 'em coming. And maybe keep them coming at a more consistently rapid rate. I know, I'm just being selfish.

Anyways, it's great to read your updates.

Anti-S said...


The best yet! Can I be your editor someday? I'll be looking for PT work. Just a small cut, then we renegotiate when you become a household name.

We all LY here,