Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Things They Carried

I do believe the number of motos in the capital has increased noticeably since I've been here. Especially the Chinese made "Jakarta" motos. I can't imagine what it would be like to a Malian, like the one who I met in CDG, who had left for France in 1988 and hasn't been back until now. What amuses me are the items one frequently sees being carried/dragged with a moto:

- The family (Mommy, Daddy, and three kids)

- A sappling

- Meters and meters of rebar, dragging behind, sending up sparks

- A HUGE mess of bean leaves

- A sheep

- Crate of bread

- 4 chickens

- A 4m plank of wood

Friday, January 16, 2009

Aw bissimilah!

From the moment I heard the loud Ivorian music and Bambara, I knew I was already almost home. And this was only in the CDG gate for the flight to Bamako.

There's the good: Lebanese falafel and silly Bambara women amused with me for trying to speak their language while buying bananas (100F for 3!!) or flip flops, warm sunshine (not too hot yet!) and cute babies...and the Bad: open sewage, mosquitoes, scary taxi drivers (um, **thanks** for the statistic on car accident related fatalities abroad, Kev) and barely breathable air...but at least most of those things I only have to deal with here in the capital.

Thanks to both the Malians and the dear citizens of Awesomeland for sharing me!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Have you ever been in McDonald's and at a loss for what to order?

Been startled at the automatic toilet flushing as you stand up?

Paid $5 for a chocolat chaud and realized you could have lived a couple days off that?

Been wide-eyed in a shopping mall?

Been appalled at the size of portions and then making 3 meals of it?

Thought how delicious some people would find that nice, fat cat who was voguing on the sidewalk?

Been amazed at the choices of wild rice in the supermarket?

Giggled at the cowboys stepping out of their truck in button-up shirts, jeans and boots when you are FREEZING pumping the gas in 3 layers, a hat, mittens and a turban in Somwhere Off of I94, MT?

Been unable to pick first which margarita (out of 8 flavors), then what kind of salsa (at least 20 options from mild to spicy, fruity or sour), then what kind of meat (ground beef, chicken, pulled pork, vegetarian, or spicy marinated beef), what kind of beans (black or pinto) and finally, unable to say if you were ready to pay the bill or not?

Pausing, then realizing that it was the number of white people on the bus with you that was different?

Forgetting to close cupboards and to turn off the oven?

Using the affirmative "ayyo" to agree with someone or say "diplôme" for diploma and ONG for NGO?

If you have had these feelings, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor today. These are signs of the common syndrome known as readjustment. Call today about readjustment and how we can help...umm...I believe I have watched too much tee-vee lately...

It has been an interesting month experiencing the US on home leave--most accented by realising the vast amount of choice one has in the states.

Time with family and friends has been so incredibly wonderful. I've realized me and my friends have grown up a bit in the last 3 years and yet it seems as if it was just yesterday I flew off to Mali. And the parents...well, they've adopted certain habits I find quaint. Like watching the News Hour with Jim Lehrer during dinner, facebooking, and rotating who does the daily Sudoku Calendar page. Above all, the scrabbling, the laughing, the church-going, the eating of ice cream, the joys in playing "I opened my grandmother's trunk..." and "Hide n' Seek" with young cousins, and the hugging have given me the strength and love I need to keep going. Thanks!


All tales, opinions, and attitudes are those Joanna has experienced and subsequently composed. This Blog does not reflect the ideas or policies of the U.S. Peace Corps, its employees and volunteers, at large.