I'm in Bamako to go to the bank, and internet is scarce, but here are a couple morsels of life in Narena while I have a second:
1) It's watermelon season. When I discovered this, I split a watermelon with another volunteer for dinner, accompanied by the necessary seed-spitting contest. I also brought one home to my family the other day, and we dug in with reckless abandon. After about fifteen minutes of quiet interrupted by occasional slurping, there were six sticky, smiling faces and a whole watermelon had been demolished. I am hoping to make a habit of this, as watermelon is significantly tastier than to.
2) I am starting to learn the names of people around town. The mayor has a small grandchild (at least I think he's a grandchild... these things are harder to sort out than you might think) whose name I asked for the other day. Their response sounded like "nahmbadr wahn". Go ahead... say it out loud. That's right, this poor child with a large, funny-shaped head has a nonsensical English name: Number One. Hearing them botch English in a big way in the middle of streams of Malinke is an unending source of pleasure for me. Some of my readers may also appreciate the unintended Star-Trek reference (Mike, Dad, this one's for you).
3) Ramadan is over (see previous post about the feast). People in my village are tremendously more affable now than they were when I arrived. Good thing, because that was rough.
4) I found an afternoon card game in the middle of town under the hugest Baobab tree I've ever seen. About ten men gather there every afternoon to play a fast-paced game that I still don't understand. There's about two hours of play, characterized by lots of arm-flailing, table-hitting, finger-pointing, and loud disagreements followed by high-fiving and back-slapping. For now, I just watch. It is going to be a great way to get to know people, and to learn some colorful language.
5) I'm starting to appreciate some of the people here on a personal level. My host dad (or landlord) is a really cool old man, and I spend most nights after dinner drinking tea with him, and shooting the breeze. He reminds me a lot of my grandfather, and we enjoy each others' company despite the communication barriers. I always leave laughing, and feel a little bit like I've just been to Texas. Hopefully more on him another day.
There's plenty more to say, but that's all the time I've got for the moment. I'll be back to Bamako in early November to watch the election results roll in through the night. I should have time to write then.