Wednesday, February 25, 2009

short and sweet...

A few rapid-fire items for your reading pleasure (all three of you)...

1) Cold season is over. It's not hot season yet, and daily temperatures are "only" in the high nineties or low hundreds. Yuck.

2) With the heat comes the mangoes. I had a couple the other day that ripened early, and they were fantastic. In my town, the fruit is still green, but the trees are sagging from their weight. I have to watch my head as I walk around town, because some of them are low enough to bop me. I'm told that at the height of mango season, they go for roughly a penny each in my town - if you're too lazy to pick your own.

3) I'm trying to build a mango dryer to take advantage of the "hundred mangoes for a buck" ridiculousness that is coming. I've asked around town and nobody here believes me when I tell them you can dry mangoes. When I tell them how much we pay for them in America, they're utterly appalled.

4) I bought a hammock and strung it up in front of my door, under the banana tree. It's hand-made, and I paid about five bucks for it to be made and installed. My host family is convinced that I got ripped off - I mean, that could buy five-hundred mangoes. In its first week, my hammock was host to four naps and the reading of one entire book.

5) Despite all the nap-taking, book-reading, hammock-laying, and mango-dryer-making, I am actually getting a few things done here that more directly relate to my job. Right now we are constructing a building for the Artisans' Cooperative. It's going slowly, but we now have walls, and the roof will go on in the next couple weeks. I am quickly learning that Americans spend way too much money on tools when pointy rocks would do. My biggest problem is trying to convince the members of the cooperative that the most important part of the building comes in using it after it's built. Again, progress is slow.

6) We're in the middle of dry season, and until the rains come again, the earth is too cracked and dry for any real farming, so people around town have lots of time. Many are going to the gold mine that is about ten kilometers outside of town. They work all day in the heat, and it's extremely dangerous. For a day of mining, they can usually find a little less than a tenth of a gram, which fetches about two bucks. I'm convinced they're getting ripped off by the local buyers, but don't know enough to be sure.

7) Tomorrow there is a traditional ceremony that officially opens the gold mine for the year, complete with masks, divinations, and the consumption of at least one cow. Yes, I'm going. Yes, I'm bringing my camera. Hopefully I'll get the pictures up for your viewing pleasure next time.

8) My twenty-year old host sister had twins over the weekend. She intended to go to a hospital in Bamako to give birth, but she didn't know it was twins, and therefore didn't really guess that she would deliver early. She delivered at the maternity in Narena. It sounds like everyone is healthy - I'm going home to check it out and meet them.

I'm hopping a bus back to town in an hour, so I'd better get moving. There's always so much more to post, and so little internet with which to post it. Until next time...