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)