Better than Halle

•March 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A guy at work:

” You should be miss USA because you’re so perfect and you don’t eat hamburgers like all those obese american women! Seriously, if I was part of a jury and had to pick between you and Halle Berry for beauty, I’d pick you in a second.”

OK, RIDICULOUSSS!! Still, can I hire this guy as my personal ego booster forever??

p.s.: I’ll pay him in hamburgers…

Who, what??

•March 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last post I wrote was on Feb. 14?? No wonder… That date is special to me for reasons I can’t bring up here.

Essentially, I stopped writing because of two things. First, my boyfriend didn’t care about my blog, and back then, the only utiliy I saw for a blog was to keep him updated with little funny stories. My new philosophy: who cares? I’ll do it for myself :)

Second reason: as my life got awesomer and awesomer, I got overwhelmed. I started thinking ”holy crap, how am I supposed to write all this in my blog??”

I still don’t know how I’m supposed to summarize the past month and a half here. I feel like I’ve lived enough for it to be a year. But I’ll try. Since I last wrote, I:

Became friends with a group of amazing Italian musicians who specialize in African music and dancing (they’re total hippies, to me), went to a Tiken Jah Fakoly concert and met him in person, made a really close friend among the Italians (Sidiki), tanned by various luxurious pools, hand-fed some mango peels to a huge turtle, cooked SPICY tajine for 10 people and made my guests cry, was hit on by a reggae celebrity, danced my heart out various times, got acquainted with a sorcerer who told me about my future, attended a weird, all-night traditional ceremony with masks and huge live puppets and dancing and devil calling, ate delicious pistachio ice cream (although Sidiki says I haven’t TASTED ice cream until I come to Italy), ate fish and rice with my hands, got really really sick for a whole weekend, went a week and a half without running water in my house (no showers, no cooking, no flushing our toilet), bought pure, homemade shea butter, started wearing bayas, went to a wedding, was stopped in the streets by Arabs wanting to speak Arabic, saw a pro-Ghaddafi manifestation and was mistaken as a French woman (and duly insulted), spent an evening in a 5-star, marble hotel with a bunch of millionaire Algerian men (!), had to say goodbye to my friend and felt heartbroken, fought with my boyfriend only to miraculously make up with him every time, held meetings with the team of journalists I’m directing, celebrated my big brother’s birthday by eating a huge chocolate cake (a rare thing here in Mali), thought I was getting malaria because of 111 bites on my body, only to realize it was bed bugs, learned how to say NO to some people, got offered a gorgeous free Malian bracelet, made friends with a bunch of Malians (so much, in fact, that I can’t keep up and divide my time properly), took up jembe lessons, went on a pirogue trip on the Niger river, fell in love with a little kid (Cheick), read funny books that made me laugh out loud, spent a slightly tipsy friday night with my roomate, on our balcony, in our bikinis, sitting in our ”pools” (our buckets to wash laundry, filled with water) and planning to tell everyone we had an awesomz pool party with a dj (me) and drinks, witnessed heart-breaking kitty murders, vowed to become vegetarian (one day…mayhaps) and spent many nights talking to my boyfriend and wishing he was HERE.

I think that’s pretty much it! Now that you guys are up-to-date somehow, I’ll start writing here every time I have something interesting to say! :) Bye bye

Malian Anecdotes #3 and #4

•February 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

IIIIIIIIIIIII have the best life :)

I have lots to tell but I shall start by the beginning.

FRIDAY

I get out of work 2 hours after I was supposed to get out, because it was the day my report was due. It’s 6 pm. I hop in a Sotrama, I stop at the bank by the Niger river to take out some money and then proceed to walk home.

On my way home, as I’m walking by the Niger river on a really busy street, I notice a huuuuge space of sand. The beach girl in me gets excited. Could it be a beach? So I venture out in the sand and walk very, very far to see what’s at the end of that sand field, hoping for some water and waves.

Well, no. Probably not. I’ll never know because as I was almost at the end of that huge sand field,  I start noticing weiiiird bugs, similar to fireflies, but with zebra patterns. Holy crap. There’s two.

Nope, four. Five. Ten. They’re following me. AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH !!!!!!!!

So, panicked, I start running back to the far-away street like a retard, with my pink backpack (deemed and named The Ugliest Backpack in the Universe by Mr. Samuel, my African grandpa) like a little schoolgirl.

As I get close to the busy street (still running away from the creatures) with my sight blurred by my movement, I see 5 black faces with huge white smiles. Oh, God, please tell me they’re not laughing at me.

I finally arrive on the sidewalk, and yes, 5 Malians (4 tall men and a woman) are basically CRYING of laughter while pointing at me and speaking Bambara. I want to be pissed that they’re laughing at me, but as I open my mouth, I start LAUGHING and laughing and laughing at myself with them. I can’t help it, as I realize how stupid I must have looked, a tall, grown white woman walking into an empty field of sand and then running back clumsily, panicked.

One of them asks me in broken french what I was running away from.

…. Bugs. Big bugs, I tell them. I try to show them how big they were to justify myself. This only makes them (and me) laugh even more. Then, they tell me it’s not a beach, but a construction site for a monument to celebrate Mali’s 50 years of independence. Great. As I cross the street and continue on my way home, they are still laughin at me. Or as I would say in french, ils se fouttent complètement de ma gueule.

————————————————————————————————————————-

So I’m just smiling to myself, walking home (I’m still super far away and tired from my day). Then, a guy on a motorcycle drives up to me on the sidewalk and offers me a ride, telling me that I’m so beautiful that he literally had to stop his moto, turn around and come see me.

As usual, I say no thanks, I’m almost home (riiiight), no thanks I have a boyfriend, no thanks please leave me alone, etc. But the guy is really insisting and I’m tired. He tells me about his life and how he studies law and is at his third year. He seems geniunely nice, and I’m still far from home, so I’m like ”Ehhh what the heck. You’re in Bamako, let’s live life dangerously.”   

So I hop on this stranger’s bike and I’m home in 5 minutes. We exchange phone numbers (it’s not as special as it sounds in the US; here everyone exchanges phone numbers; I have the number of the old woman who sells me tomatoes at the market and doesn’t speak a word of french and that of a delivery guy I saw for 2 seconds at my job.) Well, because I jumped on the occasion and took a risk, I was invited (along with my rommate) to my first Malian wedding next Sunday!!! Le dimanche à Bamako, c’est le jour du mariage indeed.  

(Then I went out with my roommate and Malian friend Harold to ”dance” but we waited until 2 am, sitting outside on the terrace, only to realized there would be no dancing that night because the room was reserved for a birthday party. We still had interesting conversations while sipping mango juice).

The end of my friday night :) more to come.

Malian Anecdote #2

•February 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well… this isn’t necessarily an anecdote, but more like a series of little stories. Basically, I would like to tell you what I have been up to since last night.

So it is yesterday. I get home around 5 p.m., exhausted (I just got mildly screwed over by one of these damn sotrama men). Then, I have to sit for an hour and a half to hear my roommate complain about her workplace and about Mali (this is the routine, it’s mandatory).

But since I decided to have a better attitude about being here (which is already paying off), I only contribute by complaining about my boyfriend who finds it normal and ok to pay to go eat at a place known for having half-naked waitresses. This just leads me to expressing other frustrations about my relationship that I am not free to express otherwise by fear of being ignored for weeks.

So basically, after work, I have a 2-hour bitching session with my roommate.

Then, I start reading under my mosquito-net about how to make my life better (Demandez et vous recevrez) until I start falling asleep around 9 p.m.

But then, it hits me that ONCE AGAIN I am skipping dinner, which is supposed to be necessary for my malaria pills. Since I acually lost 10 lbs since I got here (and a lot of energy), I decide to make that extra effort to eat. The problem is that I never have anything to eat at home and I never have the energy to venture out in freaking Bamako Coura to get food in the pollution and traffic while being yelled ”TOUBABOU” every two seconds.

But luckily last night, I had creative juices. So I basically put together everything I have left and I cook THE most delicious pasta I have eaten since I got here in Mali (for the ”sauce” I use a dried up onion I’ve had for 3 weeks, a tiny, dried cube of chicken broth spices, hot sauce and La Vache Qui Rit cheese).

I wake up this morning at 7 am and I feel so comfortable in my bed, to the point that I don’t want to leave it. So I start my day with humor. Why? Because me thinking that bed is comfy is like my body telling me a JOKE. I have THE shittiest bed I have ever slept on. I actually basically just sleep on planks of wood; on a weird, sloppery substance. So when I wake up feeling comfy, I literally laugh out loud. I feel like I’m having a hard time translating that humor here. Maybe I AM getting the hang of weird African humor, after all.

So this morning, I decide that my little pleasure of the day was FASHION. I’ve been missing fashion so much since I got here. Don’t get me wrong, the way women dress here is beautiful, but it’s traditional and African and well I have a thing for Western fashion, even when that means incorporating an Eastern-looking top with jeans. So I decide that if I missed fashion, I should make fashion exist in Africa.

So I wear jeans with a black, arab-looking shirt with hand-sown white designs that I stole my little brother because it was too big (or small?) for him. With this, I also wear my new, long, silver and diamond owl necklace that my boyfriend gave me for new years, along with matching chandelier-style diamond earrings and a silver bracelet.

I go to work only to learn that my boss was taking the day off to rest (yesss, this means a free day of wordpress, faceook and gmail for me in the AC!). So I go out of my office and downstairs to chill with my Malian co-workers. They drink tea (I hate it) and we talk about Canada and life and family and even… sex here in Mali, how it works, when people get to do it, etc. I actually learn stuff I didn’t know and sure as hell was never going to learn sitting alone in my office.

But then I get REALLY hungry because I don’t have food at home (pasta aside) and I haven’t have breakfast yet. So the (huge) accountant asks her ”husband” (a tall, skinny teenage guy) to take me to the white-people supermarket. I try to refuse (I hate that place, it’s ridiculously overpriced and the employees there are rude). Plus, I am not looking forward to getting on a motorcycle again in Bamako. But as usual, she doesn’t take no for an answer and next thing I know, I am behind the guy on his motorcycle, clutching for my life and repeating Al-Fatiha over and over.

Let me tell you that as we’re on the highway, I am glad I ate that pasta last night and had some sort of energy to go through this motorcycle adventure. On our way to the supermarket, I pass a really mysterious neighborhood I promise myself I would go back to. How is it called again? Badabougou? Hmm… not sure anymore. Anyway it has a different feel; I feel as if I am in Jamaica as opposed to Mali. Strange. And there are stores whose walls are painted and decorated with mystical black men in turbans. Although the titles of the stores are writted in Arabic, I feel a Haile Selassie reggae vibe somehow. I don’t know how to explain it, but something strong is pulling me to this village. I hope to find out what it is this weekend.

So I get to the supermarket and buy 2 packs of cookies and…. (shame shame shame)…… a fashion magazine…….for 10 dollars…….. (shame shame shame)….. And it’s not even a thick magazine.

I KNOW,OK? hahah I feel so guilty but DAMN it’s just that I have been missing fashion so much! And I’ve been trying to go on Chictopia but it takes so long to load one image that I end up giving up on my daily fashion dose.

Then I come back here and eat my left over pasta from yesterday. We don’t have a microwave here at work (or anywhere for that matter) so how do I warm up my lunch? It’s easy my man, I let it sit in the SUN for the whole morning. Solar power my friend! Now my pasta is all warm and nice :)

Anyway enough chatting for today. Peace, I’m out.

Malian Anecdote #1

•February 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Litte freedoms

They are things I would’t normally do in the West, but allow myself to do here to brighten my day somehow.

My first one was to free myself from the power of makeup and re-discover my natural beauty. That one was tough. In the West (When I say this I mean Canada and the US, my 2 homes), I never used to step out of the house without make-up. Well, it worked well (I’m at work now, not wearing any). Freedom acquired.

Another was yesterday: no panties. Skirts here are so long anyway (they touch the ground) that it’s not like you can tell. Another great success story of freedom.

But TODAY’s little freedom story? Not such a success. To follow in the vein of yesterday’s experiment, I decided to copy Malian women and to not wear a bra (I am wearing 2 shirts so you can’t tell). WELL, EPIC FAIL.

To get to work in the morning, I have to take the Sotrama. That’s basically a ghetto-ass van that they dare call public transportation.

It can fit 10 people squeezed all together, so obviously the Sotrama men pack 30 of us in that little thing to make more money. (It only costs like… 10 cents or something which is why I take it instead of taxis).

Inside a Sotrama

Those green little vans take me to work in the morning by taking Bamako’s BOUNCIEST, shittiest dirt roads.

 

The back of an empty Sotrama (a rare thing)

Needless to say, I had to find slick ways of holding myself because it was painful. Stupid idea. I’ll stick to bras for the rest of my West African stay.

More tales to come tomorrow (or later today if anything funny happens).

:(

•February 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

1- migraine migraine migraine, you shall bomb my brain

2- The malian music in the background, mixed with the noise of heavy traffic and screaming children NEVER STOPS

3- I would cry out of discouragement, but that would require energy I don’t even have

4- My veins feel funny

5- I have been sick all week, and it just keeps getting worse no matter what I do…

6- I have a report due on Friday and I am SCREWED because I keep trying to start it and then have a shortage of energy.

7- I want to cry and fall asleep in his arms, but an ocean separates us, and it’s my fault. I feel lonely and helpless as I wonder how to fight whatever disease I have.

Superwoman!!!

•January 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I am my own best friend and I don’t need a man to be happy.

I don’t need him to miss me or write to me or want to talk to me, like my roommates’ boyfriends and girlfriends.

And I couldn’t have realized this without being confronted by his complete lack of interest in me or in my life.

When my roommates go to the internet cafe every other day to talk to their eager boyfriends and girlfriends, I stay home, because I have no one on the other side of the Atlantic who cares or who actively wants to hear my voice.

This made me unhappy and sad at first. But you know what? I don’t care!! I’m actually happy!

Why? How? Because I KICK ASS, that’s why. I don’t need him! Those extra hours that my roommates waste on Skype, I spend them partying with my Malian teenage  girlfriends dancing on my terrace to Magic System or doing jumping rope contests until we all fall from sweat and exhaustion, or giggling and talking about school.

Who needs someone who promises you eternal love only to disappear from your life the second your feet touch foreign ground? Distance shows one’s true allegiance.

Distance. His coldness and indifference are making me involve into a true superwoman For real. Because he wasn’t there for me, I basically fought off malaria in a foreign country ON MY OWN. I’m the one who gave myself the moral strenght to walk to the doctors after my breakdown and have them hurt me even more in order to save me, as opposed to giving up and letting my tube fill up with blood entirely.

I freaking SURVIVED being on a motorcycle in Bamako!!! Nothing bad can ever happen to me after that! I feel so strong! In case you don’t understand, traffic is so crazy here that going on a motorcycle is basically taking a foreign gun, putting it to our forehead and pressing down the trigger, ”hoping” that it’s not loaded. And I’m still alive. Haha :)

Every day, I have to wash my tube of toothpaste and my toothbrush case to remove the bat poop from them before brushing my teeth. Meanwhile watching and fighting off moquitoes (or THE motherfuckers, as I call them. Vulgar, but as I shall explain later in another post, I basically OWN the right to call them ‘the motherfuckers.’ And I’m not one for profanities, usually).

I take my showers COLD to the point that it cuts my breath. And I master those cold showers. Because I’m not a princess.

I mudered my insomnia. I can now sleep through this insane Bamako traffic without ear plugs. Unless you’ve lived here, you cannot understand how KICK ASS this makes me.

I became friends with Malians from all ages; old widows, 4-year-old boys, teenage girls, my bosses, and old, crazy, yet highly-educated men.

I can cross a street and make traffic stop just for me, without losing and arm or a leg.

I do my own laundry. I can survive on fruits and vegetables, and plan on eating just that for the next 4 months (plus homemade peanut butter for protein).

I’m not even afraid to have babies anymore. In fact, I want them. Lots of them.

In the light of these accomplishments, I think you will agree that a boyfriend back at home who only gives sporadic signs of life and who never asks to talk to me is the least of my concerns. When I come back, I will obviously be transformed. I will be a better, improved, stronger version of the insecure Seaofcurls who left.

We will see what decisions I make for the rest of my life. Whatever they are, they will not be based on fear, insecurity or need.

 
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