Posted by: kristinej | January 12, 2010

January 12th

After the snowstorm passed, the rest of my trip went smoothly and I arrived in Mali Saturday night, with all of my baggage too.

My transition back hasn’t been too bad – it took me a while to get out of bed Sunday morning, because I lay there thinking, “here we go,” but once I was up it was fine and I just spent the day at home, unpacking and hanging out with my host family.  I had gotten each of them gifts (coloring books and notebooks for the youngest, clothes for the older siblings, and lotion for my host mom) and I made my first cultural faux-pas of this half of my time here: I handed out the gifts individually to each person, and apparently I should have given everything to my host dad, if he was there, or to my host mom and then point out which gift was for who so that they could distribute them.  Oh well.

We also have 2 new family members – our worker girl had finished her year of service, so the day before I left I had met the new woman, who had a 9 month year old daughter, named Mamu (which is kind of confusing, since my 3 year old host sister is called Mami).  Anyway, she’s really cute and I spent part of the day sort of babysitting her because she kept crawling around the compound and chewing on big chunks of dirt.  I also had several people comment that I was paler than before I left, and one who said that I had gained weight (thank you, Djoume).  My host mom wanted to know if I had eaten lots of “American sauce,” whatever that might be.

Sunday night was the opening game of the Africa Nations Cup and it was Mali vs. Angola, so I think pretty much the entire country was watching.  The tournament’s start had already been tarnished by an attack on the Togo team’s bus, killing two people.  I watched most of the game, but when Angola scored its fourth goal with about 20 minutes left, I went outside to read.  Of course, in the next ten minutes Mali scored its first two goals, and I commented that I should stay outside since apparently I had brought bad luck, so when they scored a third goal and I tried to go inside, my host sister said I had to stay outside!  Sure enough, Mali scored a fourth goal with just a few seconds left, tying the game (I guess they don’t have tie breakers) and everyone just went nuts: all of the kids jumped up and charged out of the compound, knocking over chairs on the way, and my host mom, who had been examining a sick child that had come over, jumped up and started thrashing around in some kind of wild dance.  So, Mali lives to play another game, although I guess I’ll be watching from outside the living room window!

I also wanted to note that in the first five minutes of leaving my house yesterday morning I had a man offer me a ride on his moto and another ask for my phone number.  Can’t say I missed that.

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