18 February 2012

new home, new impressions

mangodenthe baby mangos are appearing. soon it will be april. it will be mango season. it will be one more training stint. it will be a reunion with your yala yala buddies.

but let’s talk about now, february.

Back Camera right now you’re in bamako for a special reason. a reason that shouldn’t have happened if someone hadn’t been so careless.

but no matter.

togoyou’re busy being productive.

faces473for the past month, your first month, you began asking all the villagers their name. writing it down.

faces458looking at their faces. making their portraits with your camera.

faces112-113the end goal being to remember who all these people are. because if you end up not doing anything in your village, the very least you can do is know the people who you live with.

togooso far, 1 month, 508 togos. names. it helps you keep busy in village – and in town as well as you compile everything into your computer.

so while you’re resting in bamako, you think back to your first month at site.

jan34each morning begins with you unzipping your bug hut. the one thing that separates you and…

antthe ants under your water filter,

lizthe lizard that trapped itself in your bucket,

bator the bats that help you eat mosquitoes and flies.

you love your bug hut.

jan01then you step outside your door and peer over your wall.

jan35you eat breakfast. you greet your host family. then you go off and yala yala and see what people are up to.

jan18one of your favorite places to wander into is the community garden.

green is all you can see.

jan06but this purple plant makes you stop.

jan06byou rub your eyes because you never knew that this is where one of your favorite fruit comes from.

jan07the banana.

jan10in mali, ripe bananas are green.

jan11just like mali’s ripe mandarins. green on the outside.

jan12with the unmistakable orange color on the inside.

jan12athey’re also matchbox sized. perfect for snacking as you wander around all day.

charibonthose same matches are what you use to light your charcoal fire.

because your gas tank is leaking.

jan05but before you can continue cooking, first you hop on a donkey cart for 8 kilometers because your bike is broken.

jan24this is the view you stare at from your bumpy ride for over an hour.

jan03once you arrive at your market town you can finally buy eggs.

jan04peanut oil.

jan02and bread.

the 3 ingredients needed to make a simple egg sandwich.

but with the work involved in mali – you’ve only made this once.

jan26you often wander into people’s homes. you walk right in. this is malian culture, where every home is your home.

jan08malians are always busy doing something. such has knocking over bubaga hills to feed their chickens. termites.

jan09or roasting a freshly killed toto. rat.

jan14they might even be making soumbala. a sauce ingredient made from the nere tree or from soybeans.

jan14athey might be making music.

jan15they might be building a new so. house.

jan16they might be learning how to write. 

jan17they might be in the middle of eating taro and then shove a few into your hands.

jan21they might be crushing peanuts.

jan22to make peanut butter.

jan23which you store in a jar, sprinkle with sugar, and eat by the spoonful. protein doesn’t come often in your malian village life.   

jan19it’s not uncommon to see guinea fowl crossing the dirt paths.

jan20or a flock of sheep.

jan27what is uncommon, however, is the day the harmattan winds arrived.

jan28they come from the sahara. and with it they pick up dust.

jan31smallwith that dust the sun is blocked and the temperatures drop.

jan29landscapes are deserted as people hide indoors.

jan30 harmattan haze. dust cloud. sand storm. different names, same thing.

jan32you – and a few malians too – don’t heed the warnings to avoid outside activity. laundry is being done. you cross your fingers and hope that your lungs will be okay.

jan33after a few days, the cloud is lifted and the normal blue sky returns.  

jan36you look forward to the night because of your new fascination: the silhouette.

to be elaborated on later.

jan13once you’ve eaten dinner with your host family, you retreat inside your house to your desk. the desk where you write. letters. journals. ideas. plans. thoughts.

that about sums up when you did (when the camera was around) for your first four weeks in your new village.

writingand now, in bamako, you finish typing your thoughts from the past month. you also wonder when you can finally leave and return to your village – you miss the names and faces you were beginning to know.