Day 2 (or three? They blurred) ...We're now about one and a half hours from Koutiala. While we were stopping at a little gas station, a crowd of kids gathered. At first it was just one little boy who stood and stared at me through the open door of the van. He smiled at me, the hugest, most gap toothed adorable smile I've ever seen. I, of course, grinned back as wide as my face could go. We stood grinning and periodically waving at each other, as other kids came up. I finally nerved up the courage to try and say "good afternoon" in Bambara, the trade language. I said "I ni wula" shyly, and could tell from their mystified expressions that they hadn't understood. So I tried again. This time they understood, and their smiles ( I would have thought it impossible, but it wasn't) got even wider. They giggled and kept repeating "I ni wulu" to each other. They obviously got a kick out of the white girl speaking Bambara. *
They were so indescribably beautiful, with their mix matched colorful and unkempt clothes, huge white smiles in their black faces, and enormous eyes.
*[Also, I later realized that I may have used the wrong phrase. So they were probably just laughing at the fact that the white girl thought she was speaking their language, but definitely wasn't succeeding very well. Still, it's one of my happiest memories, my first attempt at Bambara and that beautiful little boy's grin.]