Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ali's Got Something to Say

Dated: July 27, 2009

Hello and how are you? I will try to write often and with some sort of consistency. Also, I will attempt to include sufficient detail so your efforts will not be in vain and you will not feel inclined to spice up anything : ). It does make it hard, though, because when things are happening to you they never seem that important.

That said, I have a lot that has happened in the last 2 weeks or so. Mali is a country that has confronted me with adjustments to food, weather, language, bathroom facilities and gender issues.

Firstly--food. They eat a lot of millet and rice usually covered in some sort of sauce. The manner in which you eat said rice and sauce has been the biggest adjustment. They place the food in a large bowl (think of the metal salad bowls used at ward parties) and then everyone sits around it (sometimes directly on the floor, sometime in chairs). You then dig in with your right hand. No utensils. No napkins. And you NEVER use your left hand! It's considered dirty and the ultimate insult to use your left hand.

I thought I had the whole eating with my hand pretty under control until the day I was presented with spaghetti noodles. Try eating boiling hot spaghetti one handed and see how you manage it.

Weather-wise I'm just not used to humidity. I think I heard once that the body is 3/4 water. I'm pretty sure I sweated all 75% of my body's worth the first day. I'm also sporting a pretty impressive sunburn. But that's due to the day I spent wandering around the outskirts of town lost. But that's a story for another day {EDITOR's NOTE: And one we can all have fun speculating about!}.

In regards to language, I thought I would be learning French. But, alas, those who make the decisions have in their own wisdomy ways decided that I will be speaking Fulfulde. We have language classes every day for most of the day, so hopefully it will start to sink in.

Fulfulde is the language spoken by those living in the northern regions. The people who speak the language are traditionally nomadic herders. They are known to be tall, slim and beautifully dressed. As if I'm not having a hard enough time blending.

I'm sorry that this is pretty much just a catalog of topics. In the future I will try harder to write better and more interesting letters. I certainly hope you and your family are well. Anyone and everyone who sees Lily's picture in my photo album thinks she is just the most gorgeous baby. Which, I feel, is obvious.

Love to you for always,

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