Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My thoughts on the eve of my swear-in to become an official Peace Corps Volunteer

Hopefully I won’t have to keep apologizing for it being so long since I’ve last update all you folks on my comings and goings, there is so much to cover but here goes…

I am back at the PC training facility near Bamako finishing up the last few sessions and making the final preparations before swearing-in this Friday the 29th. Everything I have been working towards with my language, cross-cultural, safety & security, health and Small Enterprise Development (SED) specific tech training is mostly over and the mood here at Tubaniso is much more relaxed if not anxious. I left my homestay village on Sunday morning and had a tearful goodbye from my host-mother as I walked away from my concession. She broke down in tears and couldn’t turned back while the rest of my family accompanied me on my slow walk across town to where we were all getting picked up. I walked with my togoma, little Djine Moussa, holding his hand the twenty or so minute walk down the road. The Doumbia family in Sanankoroba will always be my first Malian family and I will never forget all the time I spent with them, their wonderful hospitality and all that they taught me during that time.

After swear-in, all of us from the training group currently dubbed the “Mega Stage” will depart to our various sites spread out all over Mali. I am headed for the regional capital of Segou to work with the Ministry of Tourism. I visited Segou for about days three weeks ago to get a feel for where I was going to be living and meet who I was going to be working with. Segou, by reputation, is a pretty nice place. I originally came here expecting to be living out in the bush of Africa with very little amenities like electricity, running water, plumbing etc. I didn’t expect to have any access to internet and possibly no phone lines let alone cell phone coverage. Segou is not “the bush” and is quite different from the little villages some volunteers will be going to. It has a population of nearly 200,000 and is considered the ‘second Malian city’ being next largest after Bamako. It is referred to as all the amenities and good things about Bamako without all the people and trash. I wouldn’t consider it the cleanest city I have every seen by any means, but it is pretty nice. I am quite lucky to have been placed there. Segou is about a 2 ½ - 3 hour bus ride from Bamako and is seated just on the edge of the Niger River. There are a few hotels in town that are actually pretty nice (meaning yes you should come visit!) and being the Regional Capital, it has a huge market day on Mondays where I’ll be able to get a small assortment of fruits and vegetables. Although there are a few nice amenities in Segou, I can’t really afford them my PC salary of less than five dollars a day ([cough], [cough] – care packages are thus still greatly appreciated [cough] [cough] ;-)

Well I don’t have plumbing (no shower or toilet) meaning I use a bucket to take cold showers and have a Negen (Malian version of an outhouse); I do have electricity and a fan above my bed. Something most other volunteers can only dream about. Some volunteers have no public transportation to their town and either have to ride their bike when they need to get somewhere or take a donkey cart up to 20 km to the nearest road. Donkey carts don’t go fast – that would take almost an entire day. My place is pretty far from the center of town and takes almost half an hour to bike into the main ‘downtown-esk’ area. I am a little bit closer to where I’ll be going to work. I stayed at another trainees house most of the time I was on my site visit since the landlord had to do some work on my place before I could move it. For instance, there was a giant hole in the wall to my Negen facing directly onto the street right above the hole. I would have been flashing the neighborhood every time I went to pop a squat and go to the bathroom. Kathy and I ate out most meals since we didn’t have anything to cook with but the one meal we did make was a vinegar cucumber and tomato salad with bread… doesn’t sound all that interesting but it was our first homemade meal in Segou.

I am doing what is called “opening a site” meaning that I am not replacing a volunteer and am starting from scratch. My place is completely unfurnished and no PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) has ever worked with my counterpart organization (my “service” – said with a French accent). My homologue (colleague in my service) is really nice and even used to be a French high school teacher. I am hoping he will be a great resource for me in improving my French. I know it has already improved a lot since coming here but as all my language classes thus far have focused on Bambara, it still could use some help. My homologue is also the Chief of the Quartier of a main area of the city so will also have a lot of opportunities to help in secondary areas other than tourism. Women’s and children’s groups, mobile banks, literacy needs, AIDS education, etc. all are possibilities for projects.

PCVs talk about how they spend a lot of time sitting around having little to do. While this probably will be the case when looking directly at my service, having the opportunities through my homologue will open up an ample number of possibilities and hopefully keep me quite busy. Being in a city does have its advantages because I will have greater access to resources and a greater potential to get accomplish goals and make a lasting impact on my community. Part of the reason I wanted to be placed in a small community was so that I could integrate and become a true member of that community. I wanted to feel at home and create personal relationships – something I have felt lacking my previous travels.

Besides all my various travels around the world where I am always traveling through and do not really spend any significant amount of time in one place, I studied in Australia for a semester and took a semester off to live in Francophone Europe. In both of those cases, for whatever reason, I don’t feel I was able to make that connection with the community I was living in. In Australia I spent time with Aussies but mostly was surrounded in my classes and my social life by other Americans and other foreign exchange students. I almost feel that I spent more time with Aussies back in the States living and working the service industry in Aspen. I had originally planned to minor in French at university but after various scheduling conflicts, I would have had to spend an entire year in school after finishing all the requirements for my major. Instead, I decided to spend that money and less time living somewhere that spoke the language. My idea for my semester off in Europe was to perfect my French by living and working in France. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a work visa and thus had to change everything I had planned during that semester. Since I had already withdrawn from school, bought my plane ticket, and made every other preparation to leave – I went anyway hoping things would work out. I ended up spending about equal time in Belgium, France and Switzerland alternating between various extended family and friends in those countries stay on average a week in one place. It was a great experience but did not allow me to truly feel at home anywhere I went since I was always on the move. Coming here to Mali was the chance I was hoping for to finally accomplish that goal I’ve been seeking for so long.

When I found out I was going to a large city I was a little bit upset since I felt I would have a better opportunity to integrate in a smaller community. However, after meeting my Homologue with his connections and reflecting on other aspects about my service, I am optimistic and will try to make the best of the situation. I may look to move to another house closer into where I’ll be working and most likely spending most of my time since where I currently am is so far out. I have become great friends with another person from my stage and will working a lot with her. Knowing I have someone else that I get along with so well is a great comfort as were are going through this all together. Kathy is also a SED sector volunteer and will be working with artisans in Segou so we’ll have many chances to work on projects since a lot of my tourism work will involve artisans. Additionally, every February, Segou hosts Le Festival sur le Niger a giant multi-day music and arts festival on the edge of the river. In fact, they build a huge stage directly on the water where the musicians perform. As I haven’t gotten to my site yet and I don’t know all that much, but from what I’ve been told, it is going to be a large focus of my tourism work on that festival.

Again I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve updated my blog but now that I’ll have fairly frequent internet access I hope to keep things more up to date. I’m thinking I’ll get online about every other week or once a week if I can afford it. Please stay in touch and I really love the letters I’ve been receiving so thank you to all that have sent them (I’ve actually only received one from Julia but have been told there are others en route – it takes about 5-6 weeks for things to get here). If I get a cell phone incoming calls are free and can give you the number if you ask me for it – it is astronomically expensive to call from here so I’m going to have to rely on you all to call me! I’ll buy you a drink when I get back when I am making more the $5 a day…

Hope everyone is well out there! I hope you all enjoyed the update and thanks for checking up on me!

Munna n ye Kōr de la pε daminε

Here is a little sample of Bambara, the local language I have been learning. It is a description of why I joined the Peace Corps.

N nana sababu caman bε n ka doņi na kōr de la pε la. N tun b’a fε ka Mali denw yiriwa. N tun b’a fε ka n tubabukan sabati ni n tun b’a fε ka kan sabanan kalan. N tun b’a fε diņε taama. N tun bε yaala n tun bε mεn n ka sō. Kabini san fila ni kalō wōrō temenen fō kalō temenen, n tun bε Aspen la. N tun tε jεn ni baaraya kabini san fila n tun bε baarakε fεli la. N tun ye Concierge ye. Kabini samniya temenen saba, n tun ye Snowboard Karamōgō ye. N b’a fε ka mōgōw dεmε nin ka kalan ye, ka u dege n ka fεn dontow la. N tun b’a fε ka n yεrε kōrō bō ni n ka don ni n bε se kala. N b’a fε ka n bεna ņa.

Monday, September 25, 2006

How a simple bike ride turned into a swimming trip

This story starts off a bit flowery and I haven't edited it much, rather just took it right from my journal. Hope you enjoy! I'll try and post a more general update as to what I've been up to and where I'm headed in the next while.

The bike ride started off just like the two previous endeavors – early in the morning with the fresh smell of rain from the night before still lingering in the air. The roads were puddle ridden, but then of course it was the rainy season so the roads were always puddle ridden. It just meant the road, if you can call it such – and sometimes it was far from anything even resembling one – was softer and muddier in between the puddles that were already there. From the beginning, one had to submit to the fact that they were going to get dirty. There was just no avoiding it and to try to do so made the entire experience un-enjoyable. You just had to accept the fact that your host family was going to watch you with angst as you rode back into your compound dotted or, in this excursions case, covered head to toe in mud.

It was just before 6:30am when I approached our Karamogo ka so (teacher’s house) where Isabelle, Evan, Kyle and I had arranged to meet the day before. Evan was waiting and, unsurprisingly, Isabelle arrived fifteen minutes later. The storm had barely stopped its torrential downpour only an hour earlier, but we were determined to take advantage of our first morning off since we arrived in country almost seven weeks earlier. Sure there was mention of whether or not we should go or rather we exhibited our insanity by choosing to continue. However, we were already up, there, and we were determined to go for a bike ride. Only if we had known then what an adventure it would turn out to be, maybe we wouldn’t have been so bold in our decision to embark on our fateful journey.

We saddled up in the crisp air and ventured out in the direction of Kobe about 7 km perpendicular up a very puddle ridden and muddy road. Of course the road was just fresh mud with freshly bigger and murkier puddles all the 7 km to Kobe. There aren’t any mountains or even anything that resembles a hill anywhere around, but this road maintained a steady and slight incline the entire length. As we set off, we encountered the odd Malian who gazed at the three Toubabs, part astonished to see three white people riding bikes so early in the morning on that remote stretch of road, but mostly bewildered to why we might be so crazy to be out on a presumable “pleasure ride” in such inhospitable conditions. There was considerably less traffic on the road for only the desperate dared to venture out in such conditions. This really meant we passed one donkey cart and only a handful of moto and bicycle riders instead of two or three donkey carts and a slightly larger handful of moto and bicycle riders. Besides, Malians tend to sleep in if it stormed all night and especially if there was the perspective that it might continue through the morning if not all day. Thus, rainy days usually were lazy days; another reason the people we encountered were so surprised to see us. They surely thought we were crazy and they were right – we just didn’t know it yet.

Originally it was to be a foursome, but Kyle, having poorly slept the night before and seeing the muddy conditions decided to stay in bed and sleep. Sure he may have made a rational decision to stay indoors, as most Malians tended to do that day – one could otherwise say he “was becoming culturally integrated” by doing so. He was in fact taking part in the great African pastime of being idle.

In the early part of the ride, about 3 km up the road to Kobe, we darted back and forth between puddles thinking to ourselves how venturesome we were to be out after such a heavy rain. We acknowledged how crazy we were and accepted that were going to fairly dotted with mud by the end. Most of the puddles were somewhat small and could be skirted around without too much difficulty (i.e. direct routes through the puddles). However, at that point in the road one third or so of the way to Kobe, we came upon the biggest one yet stretching all the way across the road. It required a direct route through -there was no way around. The problem, towards the second half of the small pond, was that the mud was so soft to the extent that our tires would sink so deep and did this so quickly that the mud brought us to an abrupt halt. I managed to hop off at the right moment, as did Isabelle, and got to the other side by walking our bikes. Isabelle and I had barely reached the edge when, hearing Evan’s splash, turned around to see him stuck, just as we had been in the bud. Evan had seen both of our crossings and surely expected to meet the same fate; he just was unlucky in the fact that upon putting his feet down he lost both his sandals. Isabelle and I watched from the edge for a few minutes half laughing half sympathizing with him. Eventually, one sandal popped up to the surface a few feet behind and to his right but he couldn’t find his left one. Reluctantly, out of pity, and seeing that we might be there for a while I waded in to search. It apparently was difficult to hold a bike with one hand and search for a sandal with the other knee deep in mud – who would have thought? Not wanting to put my hands into the chocolaty-red water, I resorted to squishing around with my toes. After a few minutes of this as Evan and I exchanged smirks and remarked on how ridiculous a situation we were in, Isabelle thought she better come in and help.

The look on her face was priceless, absolutely priceless. Just two steps in, so that both her feet were in the squishy mud, she let out a shrill squeal accompanied by, from Evan and I’s point of view, completely hilarious expressions. They were of complete and utter disgust – the ones you might expect to see on Fear Factor, when a contestant dives their hand into a bucket of fish-eyeballs or is having live cockroaches poured over their entire body. But no, she was just walking into some slimy mud puddle in the middle of Africa. I guess I can’t really blame her, but nevertheless, Evan and I would have been rolling on he ground in laughter if we weren’t also watching her cringed up face from the very same puddle. That was definitely a moment I wish I had my camera, with every step she took, her expression became even more and more pronounced and the creases on her face tighter and tighter. She persevered until she was calf deep to join us, in what must have looked like a grape wine smashing session. Only the liquid color was reddish brown and we were in a country of non-alcohol drinking Muslims in Africa. At last, we gave up the search and Evan, after a little coercion, decided to continue the bike ride minus one flip-flop. Least did we know that was to be the tamest part of our morning.

We continued up the road the rest of the way to Kobe occasionally passing and greeting the Malian we passed. The road was much of the same, some puddles much larger than others, but we just kept darting around and with increasing frequency going directly though them as they were just impossible to go around. By the time we got to Kobe to the left-hand turn into the bush, we were thoroughly dotted in red mud. At the turn off, we greeted a group of Malian men perpetuating the great African pastime drinking tea in the shade. When we told them our intended route to Sinsina via Sikaro, they tried to dissuade us from going. They insisted that the roads (really only narrow paths at this point) would be impassable. They said the water would be up to our necks along that way. Of course, they all said the road was horrible and impassable the last time we came though and did this ride. So, thinking they were just giving us the same banter, we pressed on into the bush. Turning left, we passed by what just about every town has – a soccer field – and went into some very green and lush middle-of-no-where. This was the picturesque scenery I had pictured Africa to be. The sun was shining in a virtually clear sky with but a little cloud on the horizon and the three of us were biking though the middle of Africa!

This was when I had one of those moments, those “Africa” moments when you say to yourself, “Holy shit, I’m in Africa!” They can be quite simple and come every once in a while:

The entire group of trainees from my homestay village during training were driving for our first time out of the Peace Corps training facility of Tubaniso to our village of Sanankoroba. All nine trainees plus the driver and a staff member were crammed into to the typical aid organization white Land Cruiser loaded down with a full truckload worth of baggage strapped to the roof driving through the streets of Bamako listening to the radio playing stereotypical African music.

Another moment was being surrounded by my host family in the evening. My entire family, if all present, consists of: my host father, his three wives, their 13 children, and all the extended family adding up to 28 people living in my compound. The two little infants starring at me, for all I can tell, their total amazement by a person with white skin – something they virtually never see. Then there is my “togoma,” person with the same name, little five year old Djine Moussa and his seven year old sister, Doussuba, crawling all over me vying for my attention. The two of them tend to be my biggest fans in the family. The four other brothers between 12 and 16 sitting chatting and I’m squatting on the ground sharing my dinner with my two older host sisters of 16 and 18 – we’re scooping rice and sauce out of a bowl with our hands under a moonlit sky.

I could on as I have many “Africa” moments, but just then on our bike ride, peddling through the bush, I was having another.

We peddled on for another half-hour or so not covering too much distance as the road (or paths) really were quite bad just as we were warned. Nevertheless, they were passable all a bit slowly. Coming upon a big open field, we stopped for a rest, a drink of water, and a snack on Evan’s oh so prized trail mix from a care package he just received from the U.S. While enjoying the treat and posing for a group photo, we noticed that what had been a tiny cloud on the horizon only a short time before was now a giant menacing storm barreling directly towards us. After a quick discussion about the situation – something that amounted to: “We gotta go now! We’re about to get drenched!” We sped off down the path into the bush hoping we might miraculously make it to a refuge before the storm hit.

Less than five to ten minutes later, it was upon us. With no structure in sight or any other form of shelter, we became thoroughly soaked. We got wet not just from the rain but from the puddles, then small streams, and eventually the large rivers we found ourselves splashing though in our haste to get to shelter. The adrenaline kicked in and rational thoughts got trumped by our flight instinct. We were now plowing right into thick water not hesitating to gauge the depth, let alone find an alternative route around. Both practices we had been doing up until now, but in the heat (or in this case the wet) of the moment, we just rode. Luckily, before setting off from the field, I had the forethought to put most of my backpack’s contents, including my camera, into a sealed plastic bag. By the time we came to the in-between village of Sikaro, we were totally saturated. Not knowing anyone there, we charged on. We felt it more awkward to explain why we, three Toubabs, were crazy to be out in the first place with or limited Bambara than to just press on to Sinsina where we knew people. With every passing minute the ground became more and more inundated with water and combined with the heavy rains from the night before. It just couldn’t absorb any more water. All the surrounding fields naturally drained the excess water into the very paths we were trying to use. What had started as puddle ridden became ponds and then full blown flowing streams. The water was no longer just a few inches so that sometimes our feet got wet, but was now so deep that when your leg was fully extended the water splashed up to your knee. The illusion of the running water gave the impression that we were going fast but in reality our pace had slowed to a crawl. To even be able to try to peddle, we had to be in our lowest gears.

Each one of us kept jockeying for lead position as if you fell or got stuck in the deep water, it was best for the others to pass you and keep going. Stopping was avoided as much as possible. We would just frequently glance back to ensure we were all still together. The consensus was just get there [to Sinsina] as were beginning to see flashes of lightning in the distance. That was our biggest concern. We would have stopped in Sikaro if there had been thunder and lightning, but at that point it had been nothing but pounding rain and wind. Our new threat made us more determined to keep going. The sense of urgency grew with every flash as the sounds of thunder drew nearer.

Isabelle had just taken the lead and gone a little ahead around a curve in the stream; when I approached her, stopped at the edge of a giant body of water visibly flowing perpendicular to our path, I just kept going. I figured she had become stuck and as I came closer she was unintelligibly yelling at me to “stop!” She was saying that it was really deep but either I didn’t understand what she was saying or I was too stubborn and determined to keep going. I hit the water and it was immediately up to the axles on my tires. Half a second later what that man in Kobe had warned us about became true. The ground dropped away and I literally dove into a moving river up to my neck. Evan, being a little behind, was able to slide to a stop before meeting my fate. After another quick discussion void of any rational thought, Evan and I hoisted our bikes onto our shoulders and started to walk through the river with water flowing up to our necks. Not wanting to loose my flip-flops as Evan had an hour and a half before, I had my bike over my right shoulder and my sandals in my left hand as I trudged through the current resisting it’s desire to sweep me away. Evan and I had almost reached a shallow section (shallow being quite relative and at this point meaning less than 18 inches deep) when we looked back with disbelief to see Isabelle floating down stream.

Unable to hoist her bike onto her shoulder, she resorted to pushing it under the water. This acted like a sail with the current and the river swept her and her bike downstream. With little hesitation, Evan and I tossed our bikes down, shoved our flips-flops under a bungee cord on my luggage rack and went after her. Evan was yelling at her to let go of her bike as her head barely bobbed above the surface. She refused and kept moving downstream with one hand on her handle bar and the other arm and legs swimming to keep her afloat. I reached her first and after a few sweeping motions with my hand joined her in swimming with one hand on the bike and the rest of me trying to keep myself from sinking. Finally, Evan reached us and still not being able to touch the bottom, the three of us swam our modified version of the breast stroke to the shallow ground 30 meters or so downstream from where we left our bikes. The scene could have easily been in one of those Hollywood movies where the friend falls in crossing a log and the rest of the group goes chasing after her. Thankfully, we had made it across the deepest section and had to make it only another 100 meters until we would be back on the comparably tiny streams to Sinsina.

Looking back, the whole situation was totally surreal – we were swimming! There was no time to think – it all happened so fast. Evan and I both dove in with our backpacks on our shoulders and went after her. Only after we got things under control did the warning speeches from the Peace Corps Medical Staff come to mind with their advice not to go swimming in anything other than a chlorinated pool but especially not a running river. The Schisto, Guinea Worm, x parasite, y bacteria, and z virus all came to mind. I had just finished my three-day regimen of four pills each does of Tinidozle to kill off the amoebas and giardia that had been ravaging my body for the past four weeks. I am hoping the residual medicine might fight off anything I might have contracted on that swim. Of course, it has only been a few days now and most symptoms take about 3-7 weeks and up to 20 years to turn up at which point, who knows where it came from. We made it to the edge of Sinsina and found or way to their Karamogo ka so and took refuge from the rain in Abdoulaye #2’s hut. He treated us to some hot tea just as one does in the winter with a hot cup of coco. Cold, soaking wet, in Africa! We recounted our adventure and warmed ourselves on his propane stove in the middle of his 8ft square mud hut.

Eventually after almost 2 hours of drying off, we set out again on the last 7 km back to Sanankoroba. At that point, we just wanted it all to be over with, to take a cold bucket shower and put on some dry clothes. Leaving Sinsina, we had to cross another moving river only it was only about a foot deep. It was amazing how much our perspective had changed from when we set off that morning. We just didn’t care. No hesitation, we just biked through it. Or, in Evan’s case, fell about a third of the way and carried his bike on his shoulder the rest. Another long 20 minutes later we were back in Sanankoroba. Evan came over to borrow my extra Negen sandals, as his half pair was his only pair of footwear. Lastly, we all retreated to our home stays to be greeted by our families unable to communicate in any true depth what an adventure we had just been through.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

To: All Peace Corps
From: Gaddi H. Vasquez, Director
Subject: Peace Corps Volunteers Justin W. Brady and Matthew S. Costa

It is with great sadness that I inform you that we have lost two members ofour Peace Corps family. On Sunday afternoon in Mali, Volunteers Justin W.Brady and Matthew S. Costa died as a result of a boating accident on theNiger River in Bamako.

Justin W. Brady was 27-years old from Philomath, Oregon. He graduated fromOregon State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Construction EngineeringManagement. Justin joined the Peace Corps in January of 2005 and served as awater sanitation extension agent in the village of Donthieribougou in theregion of Koulikoro. He addressed the serious human health challenges commonthroughout Mali by working alongside members of the community to build awell, improve latrines, and construct soak pits and hand washing stations.He cared about the difficult challenges faced by Malian women and involvedover 200 of them in a gardening project to increase their income and improvetheir nutrition. He also introduced a millet grinder to the community ofKita, trained 15 men in pump maintenance, educated youth about AIDSprevention, and taught English at a local school.

Before joining the Peace Corps, Justin wrote, "I want to know what it islike to live, and work, and eat, and smell, and sleep in a place that isoutside of everything I have known so far. I want to gain the experiences ofanother part of the world, and at the same time, try to give back as much asI've been given."

Matthew S. Costa was 24-years old from Cheshire, Connecticut. He graduatedfrom Tulane University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy in 2003.Matthew was first assigned to Peace Corps Chad from 2003 – 2005 where heserved as an English teacher. He extended his Peace Corps service andtransferred to Mali in November of 2005 to become a small enterprisedevelopment Volunteer serving in the village of Kati in the region ofKoulikoro. During that time, he was a high school English teacher andorganized training for other teachers in the community. Matthew was widelyrecognized in his community as the host of a popular local radio showfeaturing American music, fulfilling the Peace Corps' second goal ofcultural exchange. He also worked to improve the radio station's marketingstrategy. In addition, Matthew was engaged in the community by playing on alocal soccer team and distributing donations of sporting equipment.In his aspiration statement, Matthew described his hope that his experienceas a Volunteer would "not only broaden my perspective on the human race butwill make me more understanding of the problems and strengths of otherpeople and cultures."Their passing is a tremendous loss for the Peace Corps and for the people ofMali. I hope you will join with me in remembering Justin and Matthew andtheir families in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Some more photos

Here are some photos I've take over the last while. I'll post an update in a few weeks about what I've been up to but so many of you were asking for photos so here they are...

A pic of me and some of my family in our concession.

Out on a bike ride in the middle of the African bush.

A little Malian girl hanging around...

My favorite photo I've taken so far. This was taken at the ceremony for the Canadian minister. All of these women were dancing in a large circle - all the colors were amazing.

One of many sunset photos over the Niger.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fellow volunteer's website's/blogs

I'll add more as I find them out...

Quick update

Just an FYI: I don' t know if I will be able to write a complete update for before I leave Tubaniso for three weeks (and thus might not get a posting up until after that). I have tons of stories to tell.

I imagine you may hear something in the news in the next short while, so I also wanted all of you to know that I am alright. Two volunteers died in an accident two days ago (none from my stage and their families have already been notified). I couldn't find a press release or anything in the news as of yet. I'll write more about this and everything else that has happened to me when I get some more internet time. But so you know I am fine and have since updated my mailing address to:

Corps de la Paix
BP: 117 Segou

Some photos of me in Segou on the edge of the Niger River...

Here is a picture of the all the new volunteers in the Segou region. We're at the end of our site visit watching the sunset over the Niger River.

A pic of the sunset...
A view out the front door of my house/apartment into my concession in Segou. I have a screened in porch!
Another view of the Niger.

Who has been viewing my blog...

Locations of visitors to this page

The Future

The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created - created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination.

New Site!!!

This will now be my offical new site for while I am here in the Peace Corps. I am sorry to change the address once again, but I am unable to fix the problems I was having with the other site.

Where I've Been...