In Autopilot


A few days ago I was at my womens’ cooperative when my contractor asked me to come check out the inside of the restaurant so I followed him.  Unfortunately I didn’t see the plank in front of me because my visibility was limited by my hat and ended up smashing my nose into it.  After I regained consciousness I wiped off my nose and headed towards my language tutor’s house.  Whilst there I got a little light headed but powered through it and got through lunch.  Since then I’ve been kindof feeling out of it though….

Today I came back in to Bamako so I could attend a food security meeting tomorrow with this guy from Dakar, Daniel Annerose, as we’re trying to explore a partnership to implement market information systems as part of our food security strategy here in Mali.  The idea is that we have Peace Corps volunteers en brusse who can help collect real market prices for fruits/vegetables/grains and send that information to a central server (in this instance it would be Manobi in Dakar) which would automatically spit out a report that farmers/middlemen/buyers can receive on their cell phones daily.  Doing so theoretically should increase the price farmers can get, decrease prices buyers pay, and reduce profit margins for middlemen but increase volume.  People should be able to respond to the price signals and the system would become more efficient naturally, at least in theory of course.

So that’s tomorrow but today I went running around all of Bamako looking for restaurant supplies.  It took me an hour to get to the grand marche because of traffic and when I finally got there the prices I was getting for some things was just ridiculous.  It’s times like these I miss just going to Target and I’m in and out.  But here you have to greet the sellers, negotiate a price, negotiate some more, and just pray you’re not getting screwed over, and if you are then you move on to the next guy and repeat.  It was around noon time in the high heat, I hadn’t eaten all day, and I was just getting so frustrated dealing with these guys so I just ended up leaving.  I was with one of my women and sent her to see her family in Bamako until tomorrow.  I’ll try buying stuff again.  After that episode I needed a win so I met up with one of the guys here who helped me look for a fridge so I was able to find one for cheaper than I budgeted.  It’s not a new fridge but it’s a Whirlpool which is sweet I guess.  I also picked up a few fans so all I really have left to do is buy the rest of the stuff for the restaurant, oh yeah, and a tv and a stereo system. Hopefully I’ll take pictures of the restaurant when it’s complete and post them online.

In other news I skyped my Worldwise School, Ms. Oertel’s class down in C-ville the other day.  It was a lot of fun talking to all these young, intelligent, impressionable kids.  It’s also crazy to think that here I am in the so-called developing world and I’m still able to speak to kids halfway across the world.  It’s pretty cool and the ability to make those kinds of meaningful connections shows you the true meaning of progress.  Keep the questions coming!  If any of you have any questions for me please feel free.  I’d love to share everything I can.  Less than one week to Barcelona!

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