Monday, July 31, 2006

I’ve now been bitten by mosquitoes on six continents

Luckily they gave us all our anti-malarial, Larium, as it is commonly referred, the morning before we got on the plane. Dont mind that it is supposed to be taken at least a week better still two weeks in advance. In addition to my Larium pill, I was given a cocktail of Yellow Fever, Polio and MMR (Mumps, Measles, and Rubella) and remember this was all the morning before all 75 of us boarded our fateful flight to . Now, today, a full week into the journey, we qued up once again for more pricks in the arm. I count myself among the lucky ones Ive had quite a few vaccinations through my travels. Today, I only go the first in a multi-shot series (I think it will add up to ~10) of Rabies. On Sunday, I only had to get one Meningitis. The others, in an overwhelming majority, continued on the triple cocktail regime started in Philly on each of our three sessions thus far. Of course Ive had my Hep A, Hep B, Tetanus & Diphtheria (TD), and Typhoid shots, but it is an entirely different ball game when youre doing the triple cocktail method. Im also not having any serious adverse reactions. My original trio of roommates in Tubaniso has turned into a duo. After the first night here it went from Ben, Jeff and I to just Jeff and I. Ben has since spent the past three, soon to be four, nights in the infirmary. His body didnt like the Larium. He broke out into sweats, fever, nausea, etc. and has been cooped up in the medical office all day every day since we got here. Sure he finally made it out to attend some sessions today, but not well enough to move back to our mud shack (Hey Matt Mi shack es su shack!). Anyhow, thats his condition and hopefully hell be able to rejoin us as a PCT soon we do leave for our homestays the day after tomorrow.

Bring it back to the Larium, when I mentioned my reactions arent serious, doesnt mean Im not having any. Theyre, well, just not serious. You see, the side-effect Larium is most famous for isnt the sort Ben has been so privileged to experience. The side-effects usually come in the form of intense, sometimes crazy and scary, lucid dreams. I experienced my first of what may amount to many nights with these lucid dreams. I dont usually remember my dreams, and when I do, theyve been nothing like this. I originally thought How am I even going to know if I get the dream side-affect? I dont usually even remember my dreams. Will I just not be sleeping well and not know why? Well, Ive solved that question. I do remember and they (the dreams) are intense! As dreams go, at least from my history I cant give many details, but it essentially consisted of rapidly morphing subjects in my dreams. Crazy things like while I was talking with/looking at someone, they would spontaneously morph while I was looking right at them! Into a monkey or something very bizarre. Of course, remember, this is quite a change form my usual sleeping experience pre-Mali. As it is getting late, it is time for me to delve back into my crazy, lucid Larium filled rest.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Well here I am. I'm in Mali.

Well here I am. Im in Mali. Wow. I always felt that at some point I would get a punch in the fact type feeling that really let me know that Im actually, really, truly, doing this. Well, that has yet to happen. Three days ago when I arrived and stepped off the plane into the humid heat of , the Capital, I got a tap, perhaps. I didnt get the full on knock me down punch; sure, the crazy debacle of forming one mob of a line for passport control and what followed, but nothing like what I was looking for or expecting. After the similarly ensuing mob/crazy get your bag experience which included putting it through an x-ray machine not even closely watched by its attendant, and fending off would-be bag helpers.

I am now at the training center, Tubaniso, on my fourth night. We finally started formal Bambara language classes today and Im struggling along. There are 75 PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees) in my Stage here in five sectors Small Enterprise Development, Agriculture, Natural Resource Management, Health Education, and Water Sanitation. We started our whole 27 month long journey of a life time on July 24th, in . Those 2 ½ days we spent at the Holiday Inn in the Historic District just steps from the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklins home we crammed as much Policy information as we could. We attempted the impossible of preparing ourselves for what to expect when we stepped of the plane and into our new lives. I befriended my roommate, Tyler, from and a few others bonding over our shared feelings: anxious, scared, excited, etc. Now Im sitting here in the Hanger, an open walled room used for sessions during the day only to become our mutual gathering spot for conversation, games, reading, shared computer/internet use, and just plain reflection of the fact that were actually here. In , in , doing the Peace Corps. There are the gradual things such as the giant beetle so big it could be named! according to Jen and the tarantula twice the size of a sliver dollar both found earlier today, but nothing that amounts to the big punch.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I'm here!!

I am only on the internet for a second, but wanted to write a quick note and say that I made it!

My trip so far has been great and I'll post a photo of where I am soon...


A fellow PCT, Kali, gave me this quote:
Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, a gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation; others in a man. I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever-threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundation of his own sufferings and joys, builds for all. ~ Albert Camus

Monday, July 24, 2006

Required statement from the Peace Corps

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Some inspiring thoughts from Jasmine as I embark on my journey

If we are to achieve a richer culture - one rich in contrasting values - we must recognize the whole gamut of human potential, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place. - Margret Mead

One by one, sometimes bold, sometimes hesitant, sometimes demanding, sometimes faltering, they emerge - individuals. People, with voices, faces, eyes. People with hope. People without hope. People still fighting. People with all the courage squeezed out of them. People with stories. - Lorena Hickok, 1937

Put me on a moving train, a car, a boat, a plane if I am sick and I'll get well. It is good for mind and body to get out and see the world. - Maria Brown

Where I've Been...