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MAD in MALI Journal #4 November 2, 2007

Posted: 12-21-2007 08:14 PM
by MAD
MAD in MALI Journal #4 November 2, 2007


Finally, a creative moment to write! The first two weeks was about adjusting the second two weeks are about a plan of action. I was so fatigued a few days after arrival, each day was a challenge. I worked to arranged belongings, and find things. One item missing, a Turkmen carpet was missing but later found.
This is the first time we had anything lost and we had a few items damaged. Items were sent from Israel via Oslo, and reached land at port in a country south of Mali. Our Jeep will arrive end of November from States.

My driver asked what I think of Mali, and I replied that I learned one thing that to be African is to be patient, he agreed. My experiences are many, and I can only share moments.

The morning I watched two little love birds on the fence outside my kitchen window, The sounds of birds singing in the morning, and the silence at night. The rare sound of a train, slowly traveling in the distance and the occasional sound of an ambulance. The Gecko, climbing the bedroom wall to hide behind the air conditioner, and our cats watching his escape. Our three cats gathered around a lost cricket on the living room floor, we rescued the little thing. The children playing on the red dirt road in front of our home, and the goat tied to the tree, his only task is to eat the grass until the owner moves his services elsewhere. One woman balancing a foot tall sack on her head, not unusual, but she is also toting an enfant, which is tied to her chest! The hundreds of scooters and motorcycles, throughout the city of Bamako. Traffic is fast or slow, the pedestrians crossing here and there whenever the traffic stops. I have not seen one dog, but I heard one barking and and have seen one cat at each of two kiosk.

Starry, night skies. Floating on our backs in the pool. The banana tree, in our yard. The sounds of French and Bambara being spoken. The smell of baking bread, at the bakery. The colors of the woman’s dresses and there hair wrapped in long scarves, that they unwind and rewrap while talking to you. La femme du vegetable that comes to my front garden to sell her white beans and tomatoes and whatever she has that day. My most pleasant guard named Smile, who truly smiles. The housekeeper washes the floors bent over and pushes the large towel side to side. He hesitates to use the mop for some reason.

Then there is the rain, it is a heavy rain with large drops that hit the dirt and stones with force and the winds that move the trees side to side. The sounds the rain makes on the metal roof covering my front yard where the guards spend their time and the sounds of thunder. This morning I see six goats, loose, eating all they see as they walk to the corner and another day about 40 goats stampeding down the dirt road. Could they have escaped? The Mosque sending calls for prayer. My guard setting out the little prayer rug, and he kneels to pray facing Mecca.
At nights when we return from some visit, we see people gathered around a TV at this corner, as they sit on benches and never look up as we drive by.
The market is full with eager vendors hoping you will buy their produce. Bartering is required, you never settle on the first price, which is always, too high.

Our rooms arranged, the kitchen is in order and I have already started to fill the freezer with a selection of fruits and vegetables. Our dehydrator is for dehydrating, papaya and banana and other assorted items. This week I will be making jams, blanching more string beans and making more fruit rolls in the dehydrator. Garnish here consist of celery leaves and parsley, so I will be growing my own Basil and mint and continue to pray for a source for cilantro. They have cilantro in the restaurants and it is my goal to find a supplier. So when you visit Safeway market, remember me and feel bless to have such easy access to your needs wants and desires, culinary speaking, because it is a different matter here.

The songs of Africa being sung by my neighbor, who is a recording artist, and the sounds of her musicians playing drums. The wonderful smells from my kitchen as our cook passionately prepares dinner for us.

The sounds you do not hear are in my mind, I remember the sounds of sirens or emergency vehicles such as in Israel after a bombing. Here there is less street noise and horns and engines of trucks such as we had in Moscow from the streets outside our apartment. There are no airplanes flying overhead. There is an airport, but no private or small planes, at least not that I have noticed. I have not seen or heard the large passenger planes, either.

Can you recall the feel of heat on your face when you walk outside? Can you recall the pleasant coolness of your home when you return during a very hot day?

This and more have been a part of my first four weeks in Bamako.



Posted: 12-21-2007 08:20 PM
by MAD
NOVEMBER 24, 2007

Thanksgiving, and we have two turkeys from South Africa. We were not disapointed, they were wonderful and free range too! My one little can of cranberry sauce, some bread stuffing seasoned with celery leaves, chives and pizza seasoning.............and african sweet potatoes and voila!
Dessert was white cake made from scratch by our cook, served with banana and coconut homemade ice cream.
Now this is not our traditional meal.............but it will sure be one we will remember. Now that is what Thanksgiving is all about, memories and gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving memories

You don't go shopping, you go hunting!

Posted: 12-21-2007 08:26 PM
by MAD
NOVEMBER 25,2007

Yippee! I located a source for Basil, cilantro and mint.
Who says, its the little things that count. Sometimes, its the little things that can be the most difficult.
Let's hope this "garni" does not have a growing season here. Some things are best fresh than dried.
That was my weekend.

Love the Morning

Posted: 12-21-2007 08:28 PM
by MAD
NOVEMBER 26,2007

The sounds of singing birds, those little ones are the sweetest.
Our 3 cats think so too. The Doves cue at the window sill and temp those felines. If only, that dove would be history.


Posted: 12-21-2007 08:29 PM
by MAD
NOVEMBER 27, 2007

While most people are shoveling snow, I'm shoveling the area around our pool.

Aargh, mopping the deck, only a Pirate!


Posted: 12-21-2007 09:51 PM
by MAD
DECEMBER 19, 2007

Bamako received a taste of Hollywood last week, with the visit of the Academy Award
winning film director Martin Scorsese. Mr. Scorsese made his first feature length film, Who’s That Knocking at My Door, in 1967, and has subsequently produced scores of successful
films such as Mean Streets (1972), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) Gangs of New York
(2000) and The Departed (2006). Although The Departed won the Oscar for best film of 2006,
the younger set may be more interested in knowing that he also directed the cartoon Shark
A reception was attended by a crowd of Malian Government officials, the diplomatic corps, music stars and movie fans.
The festive occasion included wonderful musical performances by Habib Koite, Baba Salah
and Oumou Sangare. Before long, Marty was dancing on stage surrounded by his adoring
fans. Many thanks for a truly memorable evening.
Mr. Scorsese has visited Mali, many times. This visit was to promote world film preservation with Mali’s own film director, Souleymane Cisse.

Posted: 12-22-2007 05:05 PM
by Shirleypal
Thank you for all the updates Mad, I am so happy that you are alright, keep them coming.:)

Posted: 12-22-2007 06:03 PM
by joequinn
I am very sorry to hear of your cancer dangers, MAD, and I surprised that, given your delicate health, you both elected and were permitted to move to a foreign country.

Your posts nowhere mention it specifically, but I presume that your husband is a State Department official. I am far too much a gentleman to press you for information that it would be highly dangerous for you to disclose, but if he has been there longer than seven years this month, he must be horrified at the madness that he is forced to serve. Even now, after four years of Powell's moral cowardice and three years of Rice's open, naked, shameless fascism (imagine such a depraved creature sitting in the seat of Thomas Jefferson!), the State Department, along with the Pentagon, is the spearhead of the bureaucratic opposition to the tyranny of the Bush fascist junta. The State Department was there before Amerika lost its Constitution, and the State Department will be there after Amerika regains it, whenever and however it does...

Thank God that your husband is stationed in Mali. If he were stationed, say, in Poland, he would be forced to help the Amerikan Ambassador there, Bush's homosexual lover from Yale during the 1960s, to torture people at the black sites. Your husband would do well to keep his head low, real low, until Bush can escape to his 99,000 acre Paraguayan compound after the Inauguration.

Thank you for your journal entries here, and my best regards for your survival during the next thirteen months.

STATEMENT of content of MAD in MALI

Posted: 12-22-2007 08:53 PM
by MAD
"STATEMENT of content of MAD in MALI
My MAD in MALI Journal and my previous MAD in TEL AVIV Journals sent, to all my friends and family is a chronicle of my travel and personal experiences. At no time do I intend to convey or disclose any information of a political nature, or a subject, which confirms or implies conspiracy. It is my desire to share my experiences, in hopes that we learn to appreciate diversity in cultures and understand something of humanity in our changing world. "

joequinn, thank you for your kind wishes. I may not confirm or deny any statements, you may make, but I want to hear what you have to say.
Please, know that I will always learn something from you.

I have a short story:
I was flying from Chicago to Las Vegas in 2006, and the fella next to me were discussing why so many want to come to America. I pointed out the window, and said "look down there, what do you see?". I mentioned the fact that we have paved roads, schools, universities, street lights, water treatment facilities, waste management, industries, businesses, hospitals, and things work. Forest preservation, migratory birds, farmland, farmers markets, trucking, homes, apartments, courts, laws....well you name it. Other countries have some or all of these, but you can travel outside the city and there is still infrastructure. No wonder everyone wants to be here, legally or not. Our greatest fear is losing it all, for this we must be vigilant.
You don't know what you have till its gone, or until you listen to someone who reminds you or tells you that you have far more than most of humanity.

Personally, I miss those paved roads!