[a post written march 9th, a day you were in town but the internet was down. long before the coup and the leaving of a friend.]
hakili bora. the mind went out. that’s the bambara phrase to use when you forget something.
like when you went back to village but left your cell phone in town.
you can go weeks without the internet – but your phone? cutting off all outside social contact doesn’t work for you.
you need your malaria medication reminders as well as the random village moments your friends text you.
so back to town you go for a day.
but lets go back to village.
outside is where you sleep now. you tried to sleep indoors, but woke up every two hours because it’s just too hot. and this is just the beginning of hot season.
what’s this heavy thing you lugged back to your house a few days ago?
hint: it’s going to keep you occupied in village.
it’s your sewing machine.
along with some fabric, of course.
[though, you are curious if 1) singer makes these machines 2) a company bought singer’s old factory and produces them, but singer isn’t involved 3) a company is purposely making fake singers. the only thing sure is that while the machine may look old, it is indeed new and from china.]
every morning and every afternoon you look forward to watering and peeking into these old water bottles.
because you’ve got a small moringa tree nursery started.
along with some basil with seeds sent to you from your mother.
you also have a not so small stack of photos that you like to show to your host family every now and then.
one day you were invited to a malian wedding. so you thought it’d be nice to show them some photos of your old college roommate’s wedding in america.
however, marriage was far from the minds of the malians.
instead they focused on the grandfather. who is he? how old is he? he is so old! how is he living?
it dawns on you.
they’re not used to seeing old men. the life expectancy in mali is lower than america’s, especially for men.
you knew that the villagers had never seen paris, had never tasted good chocolate, had never felt snow – but never seen a man live beyond 80? that you didn’t expect.
you continue to show them wedding photos, and they continue to notice other things. here, you focus on the bride and groom.
but not the malians.
their eyes are drawn to the lawn.
you wonder, what’s so captivating about grass? in any photo that you show them with green, they ignore the subjects completely and focus on the ground.
but then it dawns on you again.
red is the color of the ground here. powdery, dusty, and dry is the only type of ground your malian villagers know.
green and red. is it any coincidence that those are complementary colors? it fits perfectly with peace corps. america and mali. complements to one another – each side continues to learn and share with the other.