Saturday, September 24, 2011

This will be my school starting October 3rd, Lycee Sacre Coeur :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Picture Perfect Africa

So yesterday, the 22nd of September, was Independence Day here in Mali, but I found that my family did nothing to celebrate it. Later that day when I talked to Meena, I found out that people here don't really celebrate Independence Day (but apperently, New Year is big!) I really enjoy sharing and comparing stories with her, becuase I learn a lot, such as Independence day versus New Year. The highlight of my day, though, was the rain. In Seattle, I'm always complaining about the rain being "wimpy" becuase even though it rains all day, its a light sprinkle that only serves to make you sad. But here in Mali, when it rains, Oh Boy, IT RAINS. I literally ran outside, and got soaked through in a minute, maybe less, and stayed out there for a good 30 minutes jumping and just dancing in the rain. It was heaven :)
Today was very sunny, and at 3 o'clock, I went up to the second floor of my house (which is currently being constructed, as well as the third floor) sat down on the ledge and just wrote about what I saw. I wanted to try to create a picture of my view for you guys, so welp, here it is. I titled it Picture Perfect Africa.

I’m floating. I’m floating above everybody’s heads supported by smooth gray stone looking out into the horizon and all I see are dirty houses yellow houses pink houses green green trees rustling in the wind Anicle Isuf grey white blue clouds in the horizon wet laundry hanging out to dry on the rooftops a woven chair walks past me goes out the yard is sat on I hear the call to prayer faint, the rustle of leaves, a motorcycle two three four, birds calling a dog barked, people talking spitting what are they saying? the sound of metal hitting metal BOOM! a door is closed. Flies on me but I don’t care I’m used to it they don’t bother me anymore gentle breeze carresing my skin a blessing in this beautiful heat. Women walk past my door baskets on their head I am the invisible observer I see but remain unseen a lizard wanders into the sun freeze do not move and scuttles off men gather outside my door chat among themselves a mud bird bobs past a tree. I am inclosed in my garden I dare not step outside and disrupt the peace. Leaves of all shapes and sizes large small skinny round I smell the dirt dirt that gets everywhere and makes all things red red dirt red dust red age. Here I am pale-face nothing like that smooth black beauty motorcycle words so many unknown words beautiful but confusing more women walking past I stick my tongue out can I taste the air? I guess not I smell gasoline petroleum another motorcycle grumbles past me but I taste the rice I ate for lunch the beef pieces in the sauce that goes over the rice. Redish-brownish suace like the dirt, but slightly slimey. More motocycles a bike now, tin hitting tin tink tink one two one two over and over again a radio is turned on too far away to make out the words its rather cool today and I wonder if it is going to rain. It smells like rain but that could be a lingering memory from yesterday voices rise over all the sounds mouth babbling out syllables syllables I try to repeat but fail to copy what does it mean what does it mean? My door swings open creak and close creak creak but my private world is inpenentrable only I can enter and leave its gates my leg swings in the open air am I worried about falling? No. Is he worried about getting in a motorcycle accident? No. My Nene’s car is not under the roof perhaps she is out shopping or visiting friends. Bouba is out I don’t see Asetu or Isuf a yello car just drove past beep a horn I smell food cooking but not in my house solid column behind my back and I’m still floating amonst gray stone and red metal a house being constructed motorcycle number 528 rides past men boys children riding and driving this one is a boy with a blue backpack green leaves yellow leaves going slightly orange brown leaves Isuf walks in carrying music in his hands strings are sturmmed a voice is singing birds chirping but a creaking door ruins it all or does it add to the harmony? A man talks a friend is looking for Bouba hey I know him I raise my hand Hi but its too late he’s left and doesn’t see me. Perhaps its time to come down leave my garden walk around Hello Africa, how are you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nine be Sokona!

Welp, I know I tend to write once a week, but today was such an interesting day, I felt like writing a blog about it. So that you know, I am somewhat copying 2 journal entries, a letter, and writing a stream of thought. As for the title of today's post, you will learn what that means in due time (be patient, its one of today's topics)

This morning (Loosely copied from a letter to my amazing friend. Speaking of letters, if you want me to write you one, let me know, give me your address, and I will write you a letter as soon as possible!)
Today I visited my school with my Nene. She says its within walking distance, which sounds like an amazing idea, but also a horrible idea. We spoke with the director, and I am now properly enrolled at Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart!) I'm also going to wear two uniforms: On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I will wear a bright sky-blue dress (I'm wearing a dress, becuase apperantly, I'm not capable of using a wrap skirt :P) and on Thursdays and Friday, I'm going to wear a light chocolate-brown dress. I will recieve my uniforms school schedule next week, but so far, I know that I will study Math for 8 hours every week, Physics/Chemistry for 6 hours, and I will take Spanish (Cuz the kids doing German will be too advanced) as well as Drawing classes and ...MUSIC CLASSES (YEAH BOII!!) I'm pumped for my music classes :D

This afternoon, pretty early (Copied from a journal entry)
This afternoon was the first time Mali made me sick (I've been here for 2 weeks). It was horrible. My stomach hurt like hell and I swear I know what contractions feel like now and even though I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, I couldn't go. My skin, especially my arms, felt like it was on fire, but was cool to the touch. And the strangest thing was that even though I was sweating buckets, it wasn't salty at all. I know because some of that sweat ran into my mouth and it had a very Very watery taste. I felt terribly weak the whole time, but I finally got some Pepto Bismol and Ibuprofen in my system. Now, I feel as healthy as a horse! (This is a side note, I have just decided that I'm going to marry Ibuprofen <3)

Late in the afternoon/Early in the Evening (Copied from a journal entry)
So, as the title says, this evening, Nene and I recieed a surprise visitor, a little gray rat. Nene saw him first, and then we both saw him again. Thats when Nene gave off a series of yells. Don't get me wrong, journal, I was freaking out, too. I didn't want the rat to bit my feet, and eat my toes. Nene was more scared though, as she was being vocal, and I wasn't. So I offered to go find Isuf since he wasn't answering Nene's calls. Thats when I learned the phrase "Nine be Sokona!" (There's a) Rat in the House! In the end, we didn't find the rat, but we did turn the living room upside down. (Its clean now).

Tonight (Stream of thought)
So I'm sitting here, staring at my bag of water (becuase bags are so much cooler than bottles) my ibuprofen and pepto bismol, just waiting for my stomach to start hurting, cuz Asetu made salad for dinner, and nene only took a little bit and told me the rest was mine and me being the greedy girl that I am, I went and ate everything she didn't eat. This included lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, boiled eggs, lime, olive oil, and onions. And I'm staring at my medication becuase im convinced that this afternoon's episode was becase I ate something off yesterday and today is the first day I eat any vegetables here in Mali and my friends have said that eating fruits and veggies in africa made them kinda sick so i'm worried about my poor tummy right now (actually, i've eating fried plantain here, as well as fried potatoes and fried sweet potatoes and FRIED PLANTAIN IS MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE i say this from experience becuase i've eaten them a hundred of times before at home although my mom prefers boiling it because its healthier but here in africa everything is fried AND OHMYGOD fried plantaine is heaven. Again I speak from experience not from just one taste anyhoo the point is, i've eaten veggies before, just not raw, but now, getting back on track) I'm sitting here, staring at my water, pills, and pepto bismol and I swear (wallahi guys) if i even think i need to use the toilet i'm running to the bathroom like my ass is on fire, downing that pepto bismol like my entire life depends on that pink liquid, taking my ibuprofen like there's no tomorrow, and drinking my bag of water like a begger stuck in the desert. So far though, my stomach has not complained. I even ate half a cob of burn corn (it was rather good actually) and I still feel fine. Hooray for no pain :D

Anyhoo, thats it for today, until the next time! A bien tot!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One week gone, A whole lot more to go!

Last Sunday (a.k.a 2 days ago) marked the first week I've been living with my family. In that time, I have gotten close to my mom and brother. Although my dad is in Paris, I've talked to him over the phone everyday. I have also figured out (somewhat) Malian fashion. Women tend to wear their traditional clothing in the house and out (in Kenya, people wore more American business clothing) while the younger generation (under 30ish) wear more American clothing, especially males. (I do see little girls, and teenage girls wearing African clothes). I have noticed that men can go both ways, wearing American clothes, or Malian. (My dad wears traditional, but on the street, you see both). On the 15th, my Nene and I, we did some family visiting, and we saw one of the cousins that got married. She was hidden by white fabric strung between 3 walls (so that it looked like a box). My Nene told me that the wife stays hidden for a week, then you have the marriage day. She was still wearing all white (at the party, she wore all white, with a white hijab instead of a viel, and the only parts of her body that showed were her fingers and lower elbows, not counting the lace sleeves. Today, she told me that this same cousin is moving to Morroco (lucky her!) The next night (the 16th) we had a blackout, but I did learn a lot of bambara words. My favorite so far is Firifiri, it means butterfly :D I'm starting to get closer to Asetu and Isuf, the cook and househelper. They teach me a lot of bambara, and its cool to follow them around, especially Asetu. I have noticed that most food is fried in A LOT of oil, and they will fry 3 different "things" in the same pot of oil. Talk about not wasting food :P Yesterday, Nene woke me up early, because it was the day to wash our clothes. Asetu does the washing, but we wash our own delicate items. You know, the underwear and bras (if you're a girl). While Asetu was doing the laundry, Nene had me help her cook, and gave me a large shell of rice and told me to go through it and pick out all the black and grey rocks. I think I did a good job, becuase she looked very pleased when I was done. Today, we went to visit my Nene's friend, and then we took a walk in her neighborhood. We visited her aunt, and saw her grandma (My great-grandma!). Tomorrow, we are going to talk to my school (I will be studying at Le Sacre Coeur it means Sacred Heart) about my uniform (I'm actually really excited about this, cuz it will make getting dressed a whole lot easier, and I won't wear my clothes out so much yay!). School doesn't start until the 3rd of October, and to tell the truth, I'm really nervous, because I won't know anybody, and everybody will be speaking in Bambara or French (which are not my dominant languages haha) but I'm also really excited, because I can't wait to make lots of friends, as well as finally have something to DO even if its homework. (I'm also looking forward to the hanging out, lets not forget that!) Until next week,
Andrea Pamela <3

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Life in Mali

IS AMAZING :D Just thought y'all would want to know. I've been in Mali for 5 days now (this is my 6th day in Mali, and my 5th FULL day in Mali) and I thought today would be the perfect day to begin my series of blogs on Andrea's Life in Mali. So. Flying to Mali was somewhat tiring. I had to be at the airport at 4 (got there at 4:30) cuz the plane to Houston left at 6 (AM) Arrived around 1 and left to Washington DC around 5. We had a layover (and here, Hope and I met up with the rest of the group: there are 5 of us, and one chaperone, all girls) and we left again at 11. We arrived in FRANCE (ooh lala!) at 9 am, and then left for Mali again at 4pm, to finally arrive at 8pm. First thing I noticed when I got off the plane: IT WAS HOT AND STICKY. But my hair hasn't acted up or anything, so I don't mind. Our luggage had gotten stuck in Paris (which was a really cool airport by the way, although big and confusing. The Charles de Gaule airport, btw) But we got them back the next day, thank GOD. I also noticed that Mali is very different from Kenya (I actually thought it would be kinda the same. BOY WAS I WRONG) For one, the weather. Kenya tended to be a bit colder, and much drier. Mali is the opposite. Two, the roads. Here in Mali, the wheel is on the left side of the car, and people drive on the right side of the road (Like America!) but in Kenya, people drive like the British (which took awhile to get used to) People also pay attention to traffic lights, and there generally isn't a lot of "crazy driving" although the motorbikes do remind me of matatus (but they are no where as extreme) Thirdly, if thats a word, Mali is not filled with advertisements like Kenya is. Kenya LITERALLY had at least one billboard every half mile (or something like that) Mali had more ads than America, yes, but definately less than Kenya. I have decided that Mali is more like stereotypical Africa than Kenya.
On the 9th of september, we had a class like day, were we learned about Mali (in a very general sense) The five of us were each given a topic or two to learn about and then present. My topics were basic economy and linguistic affiliation. I learned that Mali is the 2nd largest producer of cotton in Africa, and that 80% of Malians speak Bambara, although only 38% of Malians learn it as a mother tongue. We also talked about issues in Mali (Racism),  Symbolism, Foods, Architecture, and Arts.
The third day, we went out and had a very busy and VERY tiring day. First, we went out to Point de Vu (View Point, in French, I believe) and got some amazing pictures of the city. It took a lot of walking and climbing though. But excersise is good, right? After that, we went to the National Meuseum to do some more walking (we did eat, and see the meuseum, although photos weren't allowed) and we tried to enter the governmental part of the city, but they didn't let us (Thank goodness, I tired, and I admit, cranky) We spent the day with a nice man named Aziz. He was okay, but he tried several times to convince us that we were of age to find a fiance, and that we needed to get married soon. We very politley told him No the first time, although by the 837th time, we weren't so polite, I must admit.
11.09.2011: We Meet Out Host Families. What. A. DAY. Whew! My host father (I call him Babin it means Dad in Poul) picked me up and the very first thing we did was go to two weddings. Not one, but two. OMG it was an experience. I learned that weddings are held at both the bride and grooms house (biiiig party, right?) and the men and women eat seperately. Also, women henna their hands and feet with elaborate geometrical designs, and they put a lot of make up on their eyes, going as far as to color their eyebrows (some not all) and extending them (again, some and not all) I met my host mom at the wedding (I call her Nene) and we ate together (They gave me a spoon, but everybody ate with their hands, rolling the food into a ball and licking it up with their tongue, its rather effective) Finally, we went home and I unpacked. I met Jack, one of the male cousins, and didn't meet my host brother, Boubacar (or Bouba, but I prefer to call him Bouby) until later that night. Went out to the field to play soccer, but instead I got questioned by some young man who wanted to know EVERYTHING about me. I freaked out, and went back home. Later that night, my host bro took me for a promenade around the neighborhood, and made fun of me because "everything" scared me. Well, better be safe than sorry, especially in a foreign country away from home, ya ya?
2 days ago: Woke up hella late (12 pm) and did nothing all day, other than sit and watch tv or sit and play n my iPod or sit and eat. That was a lot of sitting. At night, we skyped the sister, and had a very long conversation...or at least my Nene did. Why does she remind me of my mom again? Oh yeah, I got to call my mom that night too :) And the boys and me stayed up till really late watching more movies. Bouby continues to clap for me everytime I eat a lot aka all the time. SIGH.
Yesterday: Hung out with the boys again, went for a walk, and basically had a lot of fun. I took a lot of pictures of the guys, and of the guys and me. I also took pictures of my house to never forget it. I have my own room, with a bed, a wardrobe, and a small vanity table. The shower in the bathroom is really cool, its a small standing shower with the long, detachable shower head. Yesterday night, we took the 12 year old cousin home, and ended up visiting 5 other relative's houses. We literally spent 15-25 minutes at a house, making small talk, chatting about the weather (or something, I don't really know, they were speaking in Bambara) and then we would leave and visit another aunt or uncle. Speaking about Bambara, my learning has begun. I know the words cle (sun) anisogoma (good morning) anisu (good evening) and inche (thank you!) My hope is to be able to speak a little bit of Bambara by the time I come home.
I'm really proud of myself, because today, I actually got up in the morning (10am) and ate breakfast. Yay me, right? Nene wants me to go out today, so we'll see what happens. She says if I go out, I'll learn Bambara faster. I could also follow the house helpers around too, I guess (We have a cook, female, and a male house helper/ I don't know what to call him) And thats all for today, I'll do my best to update this blog often!

Kambe (BYE in Bambara)
-Andrea (Is having an Amazing Adventure Abroad in Africa)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm A Horrible Blogger, But Its Not Really My Fault

Sooo as my title points out, I SUCK. Lets face it I haven't written a new post, Kenya came and went and what? Nothing, thats what. So this here post is gonna cover A LOT becuase I need to talk about my Mali orientation, my entire month in Kenya, and the first 4ish days of Mali. Yeah, thats right, I'm in Mali. But it wasn't my fault that I didn't blog about Kenya, becuase I TRIED and I COULDN'T (For some reason, blogspot was blacklisted, probably to keep the university students from not researching/studying) Anyhoo, Mali Orientation: Welp, I learned that most of the stuff I had researched was wrong. Fail, me. We also focused on how Muslims are viewed in America versus how they view themselves. We went to a mosque, wore hijabs/scarves over our hair, and had a ball. Some kids left that day (it was in JUNE) but we didn't. Thats about it. We didn't have a lot of free time, cuz we had a lot of learning to do. I remember at the end, all 50 of us Yes Abroaders got together, and then we had to go.

Kenya: KENYA WAS SUPER AMAZING OMG I CAN'T WAIT TO GO BACK. So the technical stuff first. We first went to Mombasa for a couple of days to basically be tourists. The rest of our stay we spent at the United States International University in Nairobi. Two weekends, we stayed with our host families (Friday to Sunday). We were there on a social media project, working with Kenyan youth to address several different social issues, and raise awareness on possible solutions. We were there during Kenya's winter, although some days did get very hot. We were also there during a very bad drought (it was even proclaimed a national disaster!) Um um um not so technical stuff: While we were in Mombasa, we stayed at a hotel with monkeys (very touristy, not realistic at all) went on a safari (that was actually in Voi, but whatever), visited Fort Jesus (first it was a fort for the Portuguese, then the Arabs, then it was a prison. Now its a national monument), and visited a center of village replicas. A couple of kids got married there, we saw some traditional dancing, and bought stuff at a small market (my blue anklet? I got it there :D) Nairobi was colder than Mombasa, but it had its hot days as well. Most of the time we were stuck on campus, but there were a couple of times when we got to go out and shop. The Kenyan kids are amazing, friendly, funny, brilliant, and super smiley. I liked them, and I miss them a lot now. Even though we only spent about 3 weeks together, we still got very close. My topic was Unemployment, and we used Flickr. Our team (me, ny, ny, Kenyan chick) WON!!!! Yay :) Well, to tell the truth, we tied for first, but still, we WON!!!! (yay) In Nairobi, we saw more traditional dancing, visited Parliment (that was cool. Boring, but cool), did another safari, went shopping, and possible more (I can't really remember) Me, being me, I didn't journal much while I was there, nor did I bring a camera (STUPID STUPID STUPID) Actually, I don't suck, I really REALLY suck. Anyhoos at my host family, I discovered something really important. Information gets screwed up really easily. I thought I was going to have a 17 year old brother, and a 18 year old sister. Instead, I had a 9 month old baby brother and a 2 1/2 year old baby sister. I was confused, to say the least. But we still had a lot of fun, playing with the kids, eating out, going to church, getting colored on, etc, etc. Well, the color on the dress, that wasn't as fun. But it wasn't a big problem either. My family had a house maid, and she did the cooking, the cleaning, and looked after the kids. Apperenlty, its common in Kenya. Finally, we had Swahili classes, and I learned how to introduce myself, as well as simple greetings, and survival phrases.
Jambo! = Hi!
Asante = Thank you
Karibu = (You're) Welcome
Chai = Tea
Chakula = Food
There. A very mini lesson in Kiswahili for you :) I do believe that I am going to make another blogpost for Mali, becuase a) i've got a lot to say, it being fresh in my mind and b) i don't like have 3 topics in one post. not even 2, but i did write about 2 topics and that makes me upset. ooph.

(bye in Swahili)