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Monday, August 10, 2009

Soundouguba Ka Di (Soundouguba is good)

11 more days at homestay and I have survived:
-hair braids for one week (Actually was cooler and easier to maintain. Taking them out was another story though. Totally want to get the purple extensions next time)
-7 morning runs (Even one 45 min run. I'm getting more energy!)
-planting 1/100th of a rice patty while dancing to traditional music and drums (schitosomiasis and HUGE spiders be damned)
-riding my bike around Mali (We finally got our bikes. Mine is in pretty good shape despite being used by a previous volunteer because of budget cuts)
-a mosquito breeding ground in my water filter :( (not without significant damage to my butt...)
-washing my own clothes (well...mostly...they still help me and laugh at me
-carrying two buckets of water (one on my head)...like two blocks...it was hard!
-another traditional dance (this time played bowl drums and they tried to get me to sing)
-drinking countless glasses of tea with tons of sugar (just how the Malians like it)
-at least 5 rain storms (I love them, they really cool things down!)
-11 middle of the night Negen (latrine) trips...Not technically sick but not at all regular...When you gotta go, you gotta go. For those of you in the US...be thankful for a bathroom in your house.
-walking in the village in a "tafe" (basically wrap around skirts. Most popular clothing worn by women. They tied mine a little too tight for walking...)
-one marriage proposal. My younger sister has actually gotten more than me. I'm an old bag here...Michelle, if you ever want to marry a Malian man, there are a few ready for ya.
-well treatment (our well was only like 10cm so only required 1/2 a tea glass of bleach). The depth of the well is measured using your forearm (basically a half meter) for the wet part of a rope dropped down the well. For each "1/2 meter" you insert 4 tea glasses of bleach if it is a certain concentration.
-2 baseline surveys (37 questions about water and sanitation. Asked and recorded in Bambara. Malians like to lie about things like washing their hands with soap...and having soak pits)
-countless card games of keme ni bi duuru kelen since they realized I could play
-11 lunches of Tao (pounded millet) and sauce. Actually not too bad.
-countless carbs...bread for breakfast, macoroni and tao for lunch, potatos, macoroni, and some sort of meat for dinner...I am fed too much but I am able to tell them I have a small stomac and large stomacs are bad in America since I will not get a husband
-probably a weight loss of 5 pounds since my appetite has been really low (one PCT lost 30lbs in about a week...)
-countless chatting with my "host mom" (technically my niece but basically my mom since she cooks for me and is about the only one that can understand me). I'm getting better at making conversation and basic sharades. My favorite conversation is that all American men are womanizers and all Malian men are womanizers...thus, all men are womanizers.

As a side note the entire village thinks me and another PCT, Matt Clemente, are "together". His host father even asked when/if he was going to get me pregnant. This is only after walking to class together 3 times...

I actually really enjoyed this last homestay and it was hard to leave since I was really getting close to my family. I bought all the women in my concession head scarves and one for myself. I think all seven of us in our homestay village would love for Soundouguba to be our actual site since it is so awesome.

Though I sort of forgot about missing my homestay family on Sunday since we were taken to the American club in Bamako where I swam in an inground pool, drank a COLD coke and sprite, ate a cheeseburger (with real cheese), drank two beers, and spoke in english all day :)

When we arrived back at the Tubaniso we had a stage meeting and I received a HUGE box. I almost cried when I opened it!! Full of M&Ms, oreos, cheez wiz, ritz crackers, dried cherries, a stuffed monkey, two books on how to shit outdoors, a world map, AAA batteries, and a family photo album :):):) Oh, and my research manuals...Jim Mihelcic's textbook printed out. Nana, Aunt Lori, Aunt Lisa, and my Mom rock. I am saving the birthday card for my birthday :) Apparently there is ANOTHER package on its way already with powdered drink mix..mmmmm. I am WAY too spoiled for my own good. Thank you SOOO much!!!

(really, I feel set with what I have. I brought WAY too much stuff for my own good)
1. Letters and updates on what is going on
2. News, news, news (time magazine, burned CDs of BBC and NPR podcasts)
3. Burned CDs and AA batteries (batteries here are explosive...they dent when you touch them and leak battery acid in electronics. I would like to go the rechargable route but I don't get much electricity access)
4. Powdered drink mix (grape/blue/strawberry gatorade)
5. Granola bars (chewy, cliff)

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