27 March 2012

leaving the bubble

precoup16in your new village, you live in your own house. as well as your own bubble.

precoup01you’ve settled in. you’ve got your routine. it always begins the morning, scanning the sand for what critters visited your home during the night.

precoup02then you check on your little nursery

precoup04aand water it, of course, so it can continue to grow.

precoup03every morning something new happens.

precoup04you can’t wait for the day you transplant them.

precoup05then one of your host mom brings you some seri. porridge. it could be corn, millet, or rice – you never know they’ll bring.

precoup06but it will always taste sour. so you add some of your own ingredients to make you enjoy your breakfast.

precoup07banana. sugar. powdered milk. cinnamon. that is your morning combination.

precoup08sometimes you have visitors. who are kindly escorted out by your helpful neighborhood kids.

Back Camerabut no matter what routine you have, no matter how happy you are in your bubble, something always happens to pull you away. away from village. away from your house. away from goats that climb on walls. this time it was a military coup.

precoup19no government? no constitution? no president?

your stomach churns as the possibilities begin to form in your head.

the worst, of course, being that you might have to leave mali.

but not so quickly.

not without doing at least one thing.

precoup19aplaying with your sewing machine. lugging it to village was not easy.  and a military coup wasn’t going to keep you from learning how to sew.

Back Camerayou take scraps from one of your swear-in outfits that you had made back in december. 

precoup09and you turn it into a pouch. the first one.

precoup10sloppy. uneven. stitches in all directions. awkward. but it’s still something you made.

precoup11then you bring yourself to cut up some nicer fabric for your second try.

precoup12and you improve. why sacks, though? the most important reason: they’re easy. but also because you notice all the women use rice or plastic bags to carry their notebooks and pens when they go to their literacy classes. so you want to make the bag a gift for your host mom.

faces109but, there

faces051 are


that’s right. polygamy. your host dad has three wives. so you have three host moms. is it right? is it wrong? you can’t – and don’t – judge. at least not yet, not until you understand it a bit more.

precoup13what it does mean, however, is three sacks. you don’t want to start up any feelings of jealousy. so anything you do will always be in threes.

precoup15then peace corps tells you what you knew was coming but hoped you could avoid. that you need to leave village. to go into town.

precoup17just in case it gets worse. just in case democracy doesn’t come back. just in case you have to go back to america.

you hate this feeling of not knowing.

precoup14the night is sleepless. but a camera helps you pass time.

since you aren’t so sure that you’ll see your new home again.

precoup18hopefully political stability will return and you’ll do another routine bike ride back to your bubble.

but for now, it is city time.


Anonymous said...


Kelly Rae said...

I love your garden/bags :-)

I heard about the coup and hope you are well and safe.


donna said...

hope you're safe and hope you will know soon enough just where you will land.......