Considering this blog is supposed to be about Africa, but the whole college thing is getting in the way of me going back to Africa in the immediate future, I figured I'd tide myself over with all my Mali memories. So here's the story of me and Africa, taken from my journal from the trip.
June 30th, 2009 1:30 pm, London Time, Heathrow airport.
...The flights so far have gone well. I stared out the window half the time, fascinated by the view of the clouds from above. They look like a sea of cotton swabs, stretching forever. I joked with Dad about how glaringly obvious it was that I was the only first time flyer on our plane. I was the only one who seemed to find the view more than briefly interesting. I spent the flight with my nose against the glass.
July 1st, 9:30am.
The rest of our trip went well. We had a three hour layover in Casablanca. The airport smelled of over expensive designer perfume and cheep cigarettes.
...I could barely keep my eyes open by the time we got to Bamako. [Understandable after two days of travel and no sleep, since I discovered I have trouble sleeping on planes.] It was so good to see [the Alliance International Workers we were working with]. They drove us to their home, which is beautiful. My first nightime view of Bamako showed very run down buildings, some shacks, and many people walking out, even thought it was three thirty in the morning. When we arrived, their guard [At first I was taken aback by the fact that most of the missionaries had guards and cleaning help, but began to understand it was a fabulous way to build relationships in the community, and supplied an income to people whose families might otherwise literally go hungry.] unlocked the gate to their walled in courtyard. He was wearing pants, socks and a sweater because it was "so cold!" Dad and I, meanwhile, were sweating profusely.
We settled in, and everything was very comfortable, but it took me a long time to get to sleep. When I'm overtired, I can't fall asleep. I was so tired I physically felt sick. Dad woke up and tried to sing me to sleep. He's wonderful.
....I took a nap after our whatcha mackalit session [I believe my jet lagged brain was searching for the word "orientation"] when the missionaries gave us some Mali basics.
Later, they took Dad and I to the artisan market.
The driving is insane. Absolutely insane. People, sometimes three on one, often carrying large objects, weave in and out of traffic on little motor cycle like things called motos.
My main impression of the artisan market was, well, everything. The noise; so many people trying to sell you so many different things, the colors; of beautiful cloth, crafts of all kinds, outfits of men and women, since Malian men wear "girl" colors too. The filth, trash littering everywhere, smell and smoke.
The silversmiths have little open grill like things [braziers], and work on their jewelry right there. It was sensory overload.