A random update for you my dear readers. Dear friends - at home and abroad- make my life so sweet. Here's some of my closest (Ameriki!) girlfriends here in Mali!
At a refined establishment in San with the San-kaw ladies (minus Caitlin) October 2009
Sharpened pencils, bottle of water, passport and registration ticket. Cassie and I slide into wooden chairs behind wooden desks and, seated like sardines in a room the size of a broom closet, prepare to take the Graduate Record Exam. Months of studying (well, more than one at least!) Cassie and I dive into the paper-based version of the GREs along with one other Peace Corps volunteer and a Malian who is hoping to attend graduate school in Washington DC.
After the test Cassie and I release huge sighs of relief and reward our efforts with a chicken sandwich and pizza at the Relax, a restaurant on the main drag in Bamako. On Sunday we hang poolside at the American Club and pretend we are in Ameriki by ordering hamburgers, showing our knees and napping on lounge chairs. There may be snow in Virginia but there is nothing but sunshine in Mali!
Even those this wasn't taken so long ago - January 2009 - I feel like Joelle and I look so young!
On Monday I Skype with my high school - Ocean Lakes - about what I am doing in the Peace Corps and what led me here (good questions!). I don one of my Chiquita-Banana-Lady complets in hopes of impressing by appearance since I am not entirely sure what to say - it seems like it worked! Once the call is over Cassie and I head out of the volunteer house here in Bamako to try West African Fried Chicken (my mom asked why it was called that and it's because it is fried chicken made in West Africa - quite tasty and I heartily recommend). We then hop on a bush taxi (20 passenger vans that are gutted and fitted with benches around the interior perimeter) and for 125 CFA (about 25 cents) catch a ride into the grand marché. In market we haggle for earrings and headscarves, bolts of fabric and piles of tomatoes. A woman catches Cassie's arm and in the same movement pulls out her cell phone; 'N be se i ka photo ta wa?' she asks - 'May I take your picture?' She likes the model of Cassie's complet and wants her tailor to have a picture from which to copy. Cassie's couture is of the finest caliber - how often do you get stopped in the streets of America by someone who wants to photograph you to copy your outfit?? Pretty flattering!
In a taxi in San after the World AIDS day concert by Nahawa Doumbia and Dousu Bagayogo, November 2009
Today I will meet with a man who works at the National Museum of Bamako about the possibility of doing a third-year in Bamako. I am excited and hopeful about the prospect. We came to Bamako for the GREs and have had a great long weekend with food, friends and laughter. After fantastic Skype conversations with both family and friends alike (you guys don't know how much they sustain me!) I am looking forward to what the rest of February will bring!
Me and Marija in Malick Sidibe's studio in Bamako, June 2009