Monday, April 12, 2010

Better Long than Dead.

Possibly my new favorite phrase in Bambara, "better long than dead" is a response to "long time, no see" or something to that effect. Considering that I haven't posted in quite some time and that my last post left things a bit unfinished, I thought you might be wondering how I am getting along. It's been a long time, folks, but that's better than forever, right?

On January 26th, my mom did come, and I don't think I cried again until we said goodbye in the Paris airport.

I'm laying outside this evening, on Sunday the 12th of April, watching heat lightning flash across the sky and listening to the endless crying, screaming, and laughing of the kids that fill my house. It has been so hot. I woke up twice last night bathed in my own sweat because the power went out, killing my fan. I showered at 9pm, 12pm and 4am, carefully stepping over sleeping bodies as I made my way to the nyegen at the first morning call to prayer. I have a vague feeling that this should feel weird, laying out here, that I should feel out of place. But I don't. Instead, all I can think about tonight is the fact that my mom and Charles were here almost three months ago already, and that I've nearly reached my seven month mark here in Bamako!

So many things exciting things have happened in the months since my vacation with my mom and stepdad Charles -- Leona launched our Community Health Worker program, I secured a partnership with the Malian Ministry of Health for our mobile medical records pilot, Leona and I took a bus trip to Senegal, we officially opened our clinic and threw a big party -- and in the midst of it all, I think all of this madness is beginning to feel a little bit like home.

I've started a blog post about my parents' trip: our stay at my house and our adventures in Bamako, the bus trip to Segou and the pinasse on the river there, our car ride to Mopti and then the three-day hike in Dogon Country, our stop-overs at the mud mosque in Djenne and the eco-tourism resort on the river near Segou, and then...PARIS. It was all so fantastic, so frantic, and somehow still relaxing. I think I had forgotten how peaceful it is to be surrounded by people who love you, even when the world is crazy and spinning as usual.

It was a really special trip for me, but as I try to write about it, I'm finding that I don't have much to say but to recount our activities -- and I am not sure you'd find it all that interesting. We certainly did things I'd never done before, but Mali is so familiar to me now that I don't think it was quite as meaningful (in an intellectual sense) for me as it was for my parents. So, I think I'll follow Leona's lead and ask my mom or Charles to write a guest post about their experience here. For my part, however, I'd like to say that of all the amazing things we did during their whirlwind trip, the two nights we spent with my host family will probably be the most cherished. I was so happy to share my day-to-day experience with them, and to introduce them to the people that have so wholeheartedly welcomed me into their home. And, of course, everyone loved them. My mom and Charles did their best to cross the (double) language barrier, mostly by waving their hands around and laughing whenever someone talked to them. It was great.

I'm pretty sure they didn't like the food much (moni, saga-saga and tô), and they didn't find the bucket bathing too enjoyable, or sleep that well on Pedro's bed with my clothes rolled up for pillows (despite the fact that I generously loaned them my fan), but in the end I know it was worth it. When we returned from Dogon Country to say a final goodbye, Ami gave them a beautiful (fuschia!) comforter and left my mom in tears.

But, maybe I should let her tell you about that?

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