Tuesday, October 03, 2006

10 down, 106 to go for the Belushi stage.

I'll start this post off with two photos that should have gone up a while a go. I have a fast connection here and am taking advantage to upload these photos.

This first one is on the morning when all of us trainees were leaving for our homestay villages for the first time in early Aug. (I know that was a while ago, but time is relative, especially here in Mali). Part of the Mali top ten includes: There is always room for one more! And that was certainly the case whenever we were transported by PC vehicles as might gather from the picture.

This next picture of Evan and Isabelle was taken on our first sortie into the bush on a bike ride. It was much tamer and we only went as far as Tamala about 3km away from Sanankoroba. It was with those two that I had my crazy adventure about a month later.

Onto a little update....

My two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) have officially begun. Last Friday, the 29th of Sept. I swore in as a volunteer that morning. Afterwards, we had a pool party at the U.S. ambassador's house with a real BBQ (or as real as you can get by Malian standards) - burgers, brats, potato chips, baked beans, cole-slaw, potato salad and all the fixin's! It was great. I ate so much! Afterwards, we went checked into a hotel with a pool in Bamako where we lounged for the rest of the afternoon enjoying the good life available in Bamako - a life that most will only be able to dream about once they get to their sites. I am not quite one of those since I am placed in a city where I have access to some amenities like electricity and the ability to get my water out of a faucet rather than a pump or well. After a quick nap and shower we all headed out for dinner before the real party began. About 40 PCVs from all over the country came into Bamako to celebrate our swearing-in. We gartered at a club and danced the night away. I've heard better DJs but this one at least knew the "Numa Numa" song - my theme song while in Israel last May... Memories... on memories... and I digress. After dancing to the point that we all began to look like we had either just taken a shower with our clothes on or been thrown in a pool fully clothed we moved the party to... yup you guessed it - a pool! (where might I add many people did get in the pool with their clothes). Around 2:30 am, about 20-30 of us showed up at our hotel and kept things rolling. Finally, by first prayer call at 4:30am, we threw in the towel.

There is a tradition of naming every stage, or new group of trainees, on the night of their swear-in party. We are now known as the Belushi and have been in country for 10 weeks and have (after doing the math 52 weeks per year times two plus 3 months) 106 weeks left - but who's counting? We are the Belushi stage in reference to Animal House - we are bigger, funnier, etc. then all the stages that came before us. There are a lot more insinuations but I'll leave that to those of you who have seen the movie as it would be inappropriate to post that here.

I have since arrived in Segou and am settling in. I got here on Sunday and am still a bit in limbo as far as being installed - i.e. when Peace Corps truly drops you off ,drives away and you are all alone. I haven't quite had that happen yet since my town is the main town where everyone else in the region comes to and is installed from. Thus, there are still quite a few people here waiting to be installed at their various sites off in the bush. I am hanging out with them until they leave and stalling getting things ready for my place until they leave. I have a bed and that is about it. I am hoping to get everything else I need made so I'm holding off on buying everything.

My time is up here so I've gotta run.

Where I've Been...