Numbers

•January 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

1- I have an excrutiaing migraine today

 

2- I am at my new job at Amnesty International, I even have my own desk and internet acces, which is a luxury

 

3- I still wake up every morning thinking that I’m home, then as I step out of my bedroom, I realize I’m in Africa, and I get super confused and don’t understand why the hell I’m there, all alone, far from those I love. Then, my brain wakes up and remembers. It happens every morning.

 

4- I had planned on complaining a lot about cold showers here (my only option) but I’m actually becoming a pro at them. I go my own techniques, you see! But more on that later when my head doesn’t hurt this much.

 

5- I actually slept almost an entire night 2 nights ago, which was an improvement from my constant insomnia caused by 24/7 traffic right outside my window.

 

6- I have been eating one mango a day, at least.

 

7- I don’t want to get fat in Africa the way some predicted we all would, so I started doing jump rope.

 

8- I find it hard to keep a blog about my experience in Africa, because I feel so overwhelmed. I am living too much, too fast, and I lack the energy to repeat it all on the internet; especially since getting the internet is so tedious in the first place. Plus the people I would make an effort to do it for (i.e. the person) doesn’t actually seem to care about my life and never asks questions, so as far as I am concerned, I am free from blog duties. I shall write whenever I feel like it and just tell the people who matter to me of my adventures upon my return, if they care to hear about them.

 

9- I got this stuck in my (suffering) head:

 

EL DESIERTO– Lhasa de Sela

He venido al desierto pa’reirme de tu amor
Que el desierto es mas tierno y la espina besa mejor

He venido a este centro de la nada pa’gritar
Que tu nunca mereciste lo que tanto quise dar

He venido yo corriendo, olvidandome de ti
Dame un beso pajarillo, no te asustes colibri

He venido encendida al desierto pa’ quemar
porque el alma prende fuego cuando deja de amar

10- My Malian friends don’t seem to have that notion of ”it’s too late to call”. I got woken up twice last night by 2 different people (over the phone) and both wanted to come visit me although it was 10 p.m. When I told them they had woken me up, or that I had to get up the next day at 6 a.m. for work, they both said ”yes…?” , as if they were waiting to see why or how both pieces of information were important or even relevant. I was quite amused but told them we could maybe hang out this weekend. Considering the fact that the number of my Malian friends seems to multiply every day and out of nowhere, and that I’ll be working overtime here, I basically don’t forsee having any time to myself in the next 3 months.

 

11- Where did the month of January go? Do I really only have 3 months left here??

 

12- I keep dreaming that I am pregnant. Every night. For someone who never even really wanted to have kids, this is somewhat alarming.

 

13- I gave improvized English lessons last night to 4 teenage girls who live below me. I had told them to come upstairs and get me anytime if they ever had trouble with their French or English homework, and yesterday, they did. It was so sweet, I seriously loved life and loved being in Africa for that hour of teaching and giggling and translating.

 

14- I LOVE CROSSING THE NIGER RIVER EVERY MORNING TO GO TO MY JOB (or well, precedently to the hospital). It is so beautifuuuuul and it feels so right…

 

15- Gotta take care of business right now, so bye bye!

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Malaria

•January 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m stuck in the hospital with malaria, will post again when I come out 😦

Photo-story: a week-end in the village of Sanankoroba

•January 18, 2011 • 1 Comment

This is me! I was sick that day.

My shitty mosquito net and my sloppery bed.

Landscape 1

Landscape 2

The group



My new neighbor, Baba

The donkey-spit; the water we were supposed to use to “shower” was in these buckets. It was also the donkeys’ favorite spot to drink.

The “toilet”… where I learned to be flexible!

Moi

Dog… Wulu 🙂

Dugu tigi, or the village’s chief. He’s 98 and blind. We had to go salute him and give him kola nuts.

Coconuts!

Market women

Taking water from the well– there’s no tap water in Sanankoroba.

 

Live from Bamako

•January 14, 2011 • 2 Comments

First post from Bamako, WOOT WOOT??

I am really pushing myself to writing here, despite the fact that I am so tired… So here is how it will go for today: I will just make a list of random thoughts because I am too sleepy to make these thoughts coordinate. Also, let it be said, I am writing on a European-style keyboard that I do not quite master.

Here goes:

1- the call to prayer is on and I am sitting in an internet cafe near where i am staying

2- I have been tired and with a ,igraine every day since I got in Bamako because I have insomnia at night

3- Mali is HOT and I have seen nothing yet. While I put a second coat of deodorant on, Malian wear hats because it is their winter. It is about 35 celcius degrees out on a normal winter day here

4- Bamako is the dirtiest city I have ever ever ever ever seen. I cannot BEGIN to explain here how dirty and polluted this city is. I do not want to say bad things about my new country because I have been really happy here so far, but let’s just say that I have seen things I didn’t even think possible in terms of poor hygiene (and trust me I’m far from a snob when it comes to that stuff)

5- La journee du bonjour would have been useless here because EVERYONE says hi to each other on the street and people are SO SO nice. So far, I’d say it’s the strenght of Mali; its people.

6- Malian women are GORGEOUS… really.

7- I’m Muslim and even I don’t understand why there’s like 42 calls to prayer a day here. It’s hardcore but I like it.

8- Begging children (especially talibés) break my heart. I don’t know what I can do because as opposed to what they think, the fact that I’m toubabou (white) does not give me infinite money to give away.

9- I live in a nun shelter for now with the rest of my group but we leave tomorrow for a village to experience rural life for 3 days. After that, I will move in my actual house (which is HUUUUGE).  I have a big room, two balconies, a REAL BATHROOM (thank you God, I couldn’t take 4 more months of this squatting) and a huge family that lives downstairs.

10- In the time I have written this, there were seriously 5 calls to prayer. In 20 minutes. I seriously do NOT understand. But I’m not complaining: I feel like God’s chatting me up 24/7: I feel safe.

11- Malians talk slowly, eat slowly, walk slowly. But they drive FAAAASTTT. Holiness. I feel like my life is at risk every time I cross the street, but a secret part of me loves this. Living dangerously.

12- Another call to prayer just now.

13- Want to know what I DON’T like?? MOSQUITOES! I have come to see them as flying malaria and I am obsessed with not getting stung!!! I take my malaria pills every day but I still hate the beasts. Maybe Mali would have less mosquitoes if Bamako didn’t have open sewage all over the sidewalks! I feel like it’s an open buffet for those little beasts… that and rats. They just loooove garbage juice.

14- I have been eating lots of Malian food, it is GOOD.

15- My body does not appreciate freezing, cold showers, so I try to find other ways to wash myself (thanks Yury for the wipes!!!)

16- Malians love to joke around!! I never feel awkward around them, which is awesome.

17- When I went to the mqrket, I met a musician who agreed to give me Jembe lessons. I’m so excited! He’s married to a Quebecer woman. It seems like every other Malian man is married to a Quebecer woman. Well, I’m only half-quebecer, so sorry, not for me! Plus I’m already very in love and I miss my man back in Florida. I wish he was here.

18- I’m starting to get the hang of Malian money but it’s hard, especially if you suck at math like I do.

19- Making friends is so easy here! I love Malians.

20- What more could I say… I went to the Canadian embassy today and a huge MANGO tree was in the backyard! Out of a 2-hour meeting with important diplomats receiving information about international aid and bilateral projects, what do I take away from my morning?? THE CANADIAN EMBASSY IN MALI HAS A MANGO TREE IN ITS BACKYARD.

21- Insomnia is rich; it bought itself a ticket to follow me all the way here in West Africa. UGH!

Good night!!

 

Oops

•January 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So I’m a horrible, horrible procrastinator. Although I did work for some part of the day (and ran lots of errands in the stupid snow), I didn’t even finish packing. I’ll have to wake up extra early to do that.

I did, however,

1- Have a delicious meal of scallops in a white sauce with melted cheese on top, with honeyed carrots toppled with sesame seeds and a side of pasta (a mommy-made chocolate/peanut square for dessert)

2- Take a warm, relaxing bath (for fun and because it’s so freezing out)

3- Spend my evening in colorful tights (because I’m allowed and because they are comfy)

4- Chill with my grandparents

5- Take this awesome picture for no reason:

Tomorrow is a big day, because I have to finish packing before 11 a.m. I will leave with my family to St-Gervais to give away our stupid/hyper dog to our cousins from the countryside and see them before I leave, then we will go to Quebec city to have a shrimp dinner. The day after that, we’ll drive to Montreal and I’ll be dropped off at the airport for a night flight.

Then, Casablanca a whole day, and I should arrive at Bamako, Mali around midnight.

WOOP WOOP!!! 😀

Packing!

•January 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m stressed stressed stressed!

STRESSED!!!!!!!! AHHH

I have one day (t0day) to pack and/or go buy whatever’s missing in my list of things I have to bring to Africa. I am freaking out. A LOT.

I haven’t slept in days, and odds are I’m not going to anytime soon. I’m exhausted and I have a migraine. Blehhh I want to go to sleep. But instead, I have to swift through my whole life’s worth of stuff and decide what’s going in the 2 suitcases I’m allowed to bring (of 50 pounds each). Clothes shouldn’t be hard to pick, considering the strict moral code that comes with dressing in Mali (a muslim country).

What I’m more worried about is BOOKS, I have to restrict the amount of books I bring. And toiletry things. And.. objects.

I left Florida (and my boyfriend) yesterday, and I already miss both dearly. To think I won’t see him for another 5 months is really weird. But I can do this. And Florida, well, that won’t be for another 7 months I think, if everything goes according to plan and I end up in Venezuela after Africa.

I’m sleepy. Just thought I’d complain here about my pre-trip stress.

Hope you guys are having a better day than I am!

Africa!

•January 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So, as a few of you might know, I’ll be leaving soon (in…. 7 days!) for my big adventure as an aid worker in Africa! I will be moving to Bamako, Mali, and will be a volunteer journalist with Amnesty International. I’m really excited, but also nervous. I spent 4 months preparing myself for this, doing the program (CFCI) and learning about international aid. But it was all in theory; the idea of me actually going to Africa was quite vague.

And it still is! How can it be possible? How can I imagine the fact that on Jan. 10, I will literally wake up in Montreal, Canada, spend my whole day walking around Casablanca, Morocco (my second home), and go to sleep that night in Bamako, Mali? And all this with about 12 of my classmates/friends? It just sounds too amazing to be true.

Anyway, a lot of people around me have requested that I keep a blog about my new life in West Africa. So I think I will use this blog (which I’ve kept up for over two years now) and transform it into a travel blog for a while. I hope you guys enjoy it. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to have access to the internet, but I will do my very best to keep you updated about my little adventures.

Until then, happy 2011! I spent my New Years first with my boyfriend’s family in Weston, then with a few friends in a random stranger’s apartment in Miami (we just heard music from the hallway, knocked on the door, and partied the night away with our new friends). The place was on the 6th floor, and the view on Miami’s palm trees and little city lights at 5 in the morning was simply breathtaking. I was so excited that my year started on this adventurous note 🙂

I hope yours is as exciting, if not more! ❤