Monday, October 13, 2008

October in Mali means peanuts (we have pumpkins too!)

Another week at site come and gone. It's getting closer to harvest time so people are going out to the fields more and more to check on crops and start collecting. This week my family pulled up peanuts - and I think will for weeks to follow. Everything is done by hand and horse cart and I often sit and wonder how it's done in the states with technology since, although I am from Virginia, I don't recall every having seen a peanut farm and I know I've never been to a peanut processing plant.
The men unloaded the cart of peanuts, roots, leaves and all in our compound and then about 20 women came to help with my family's harvest. Groups of 7-10 women sat around big piles of peanut plants and got started pulling the nuts from the roots. I sit and marvel at the sense of community here. People are always outside because it's too hot to sit indoors and the houses are just for sleeping so there's not any room anyways. It's such a warm feeling of community, though I'm sure when I comment on this to my new neighbors they think, this is how it is, how else would people do it?
I finished my morning chores (washing my dishes and sweeping the hut) and pulled up a stool and got to peanut pulling. At one point, the women made me make good on my promise of guitar playing so I played "Lyin' Eyes" (of course) and my new hit, (or rather, Tom Petty's old one...) "American Girl" which I think is an appropriate song for me to use as a launch for cultural exchange :) One of the women danced during my whole playtime and so I just kept playing and singing because I had a captive (albeit, occupied with peanut pulling) audience. I had to take a nap mid-day (peanut pulling is tiring!) and when I came back the women were still hard at work and the pile just kept getting bigger of work "to do" as the men brought in more cart loads of nuts. But by the time the sun started to set, we had finished and everyone went back to their own compounds to get started cooking dinner and rest; here, because tomorrow is a weekend or holiday doesn't mean work stops. There's always something to be done and it seems like the people (namely, the women) of my village, never rest.

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