The more time I spend here the more I feel like I’m stuck in some sort of time warp or parallel universe. Everyday I’ll pass by people driving on scooters but they’ll be dressed in traditional Malian clothing. People cook with mud brick ovens and draw water from wells but then they’ll need to get their cell phones charged. Whenever I’m at the stage house I feel like I’ve stumbled on some sort of final frontier, a place where American society has died out and all that remains are the VHS cassettes left in the house and we volunteers are the last remaining survivors. Every time I peer over the wall to the street where life in Mali is going on business as usual there’s a part of me that tells me to go back to my place so I can do some work while another part of me just tells me to stay at the stage house forever, where I have all the comforts of home. I remind myself of my reasons for coming here in the first place and jump back into my life in Mali.
I don’t want to say this is what I expected to be doing and where I expected to be but really this IS where I expected to be doing and where I expected to be. I wanted to have a place where I had electricity and running water. After not having either at homestay it was brutal for me and although I was prepared to live in some super brucey village I preferred living somewhere I wouldn’t have to worry about my water source or how I would charge any of the multiple electronic devices I brought along with me. I wanted to be in a large town, but not in a city. After having visited some “cities” in developing countries I realized you can get whatever you want in the capital but it is by no means the nicest part of the country. The same goes for Bamako here in Mali. You can get whatever you want in Bamako (even a decent burger and milkshake) but it’s not a very clean or pretty place to live. My town has pretty much everything I need, not necessarily everything I want, and that’s okay. It’s enough to remind me that yes, you can buy toilet paper but holy shit, you’re still in Africa. Life goes on.
That’s one thing I’ve realized since coming here. I used to be such a news junkie. I would read tons of news from multiple sources and catch whatever I could on Daily Show as well. But since arriving in Mali all that’s slowed down considerably. It’s so strange to think it’s almost been a year since Obama was elected president. One of the things that kills me most is not being able to watch or follow football. I hear news here and there about the Eagles (Michael Vick wtf?) and Penn State (I can’t believe they lost to Iowa again) but not being able to watch any game really kills me because I love football so much. So if any of you out there can record any Eagles/Penn State games and send them over so I can watch on my computer that would be much appreciated. I don’t think there’s any other way I’d be able to watch any games here other than heading into Bamako and finding a sports bar or something.
But anyway I digress. Life in here is starting to normalize. I have to find a way to get rid of all these household pests (maybe get a cat?) and buy some furniture soon. Time to get started on my compost pile, chicken coop, and once the rain stops my mud brick ovens so I can make some pizzas. Does anyone know how to make nan?