Friday, September 25, 2009

A few photos for you :)

Ok, so I know I've been slacking on the photo front, and since I was able to get into Bamako this weekend and get on a computer, I'm going buck-wild here to try and put some pictures to the stories I've been telling. I won't make much of a "blog post" now, but in my little amount of computer time, I'll do my best to just caption pictures and give you an idea of what's going on. Enjoy!

Canoes on the Niger river

Kids at homestay...the young girls always take care of the babies

This is where I would sleep outside at homestay...yes, my "bed" is about 5 feet from the cows, donkeys, chickens, roosters...etc. (I had to wear earplugs to sleep, ha ha)

First time visiting my new's this is the main path leading to the village...there's a 7-11 around the corner where I can get slurpees, ha ha (I WISH!)

Welcome ceremony at site! Everyone dances, sings, and plays instruments. Someone told the woman drumming that I played the djembe and so she passed it off to me. Everyone got really excited when I started to play :).

The new outfits a few of us got made for our swear-in ceremony, ha ha. It was something like $6 to buy the fabric and have the tailor make each outfit. Yes, I know, it looks like we're on a bowling team!!! Ha, ha.

This is my homestay family, who I lived with for the first couple of months during preservice training. My hostdad is the guy in the front with the white hat...and he has three wives, the woman with the orange shawl, the woman in the back left corner, and the woman at front right!

My new sitemates...Gloria in purple and Irina in yellow. Mike and Chris are my other two sitemates...just not in this picture. When I say "sitemates", these are people that having the same banking town as I do, so we'll probably see eachother every few weeks or so. Gloria and I live only a few kilometers away from eachother, so we should be best of friends by the end of these next two years!

There's no driving age in they start the kids young :).

After visiting my site for the first time, all the new volunteers met up with some of the current PCV's. We all packed into that green transport (at least 19 people), and landed up getting a blowout, ha ha. :)

Our goal was to conquer this rock by the end of homestay. Eric and I tried at the beginning, and finally found a way to get up top on our last day there. I'm on the left, Eric's on the right.

Our homestay clan. The 7 of us all lived in a village called Soundougouba together during our preservice training.

The group of newly sworn in Peace Corps Volunteers! I'm in the back row under the "ED" of "United".

We found this turtle just hanging out at the American Club, the place I mentioned where they have a pool and cheeseburgers...and air conditioning :). He was REALLY heavy.

Yeah, you guessed it...we found a place in Bamako, the capital, that makes brick oven pizza! It's no New York/Jersey pizza, but it was deeeeelicious :).

Some women selling tomatoes, oranges, bananas, etc.

Site installation! Notice the mattresses, bikes and all our other junk piled on the roof J.

This is how Malians get around with all their stuff, ha ha. If you look closely, there’s a blue tarp covering a huge pack of people towards the front…rain protection J.

My homologue, Adama, and I in a town about 11km (about 7 mi.) away from my site known as Faraka. We biked here to look into some additional transportation options for Gloria and I to be able to get in and out of our remote locations (each village assigns a “homologue” to their PCV as someone to look after the volunteer’s needs/well being).

Here’s my bedroom as it stands right now. Eventually, I hope to get a bed frame made to get my mattress up off the floor. I bought the floor mat/rug in the market…it’s a woven plastic, and I think it brightens up my room nicely, ha ha.

If you were to sit on my bed and turn around, this is what you’d see. From left to right: purple sheet to pull across my screen door for privacy, a broom, a propane tank w/ a single burner screwed on top to serve as my stove (for now anyway…I’m hoping to get a 2 burner propane stove), my water filter sitting on top of a blue bucket, on top of the filter is a battery powered lamp and a yellow bottle of bleach (I put bleach in my water after it’s filtered…2 drops/liter), my two water bottles down below, the purple bucket with the green cup in it is my bathing bucket (I dip the cup into the bucket and pour water over my head…its that simple, ha ha). The other room is a little bit bigger, but only has one window so has no cross ventilation (but I’m working on getting another put in). In there I just have my clothes, bike, cooking stuff, etc. This concludes the grand tour of my two bedroom apartment J.

Right outside the front of my house I have a little walled-in area that is known as my “concession”. So, whenever I talk about my concession, this is the area I’m referring to. In the corner of the picture you can see a little opening in the wall…this opening goes to my nyegen (bathroom)…which is just four mud walls (currently caving in) around a concrete slab with a 6”x 6” square hole. There’s no roof which is nice when bathing if the sun is just coming up or just going down…but going to the bathroom midday the sun beats the sweat out of you…and it is then that you have to decide whether you lost more fluids from your pores or from taking a leak J. The green jug is my drinking water and hand washing water supply. It’s pump water, which is better than well water J.

What I see when I look out from my concession.

Another view from my concession. In front of this hut you’ll see the big mortar and pestle, which is used all day and night by women pounding corn and millet.

A bunch of women and children from my village. They came into my concession because they wanted to see pictures of my family from home. I guess I showed someone else at some point…and word spread!

Kids looking in on Gloria and I in the bashee. The kids love when you take a picture of them and then show it to them.

Furniture from the Crate & Barrel down the street…I mean, furniture I got made in my banking town 50km away. A nice looking bookshelf and table if I don’t say so myself…much needed too!

Crate & Barrel delivery truck J. How else do you expect me to transport this stuff? Ha ha. This is also a shot of my house/concession from the outside to give you an idea of the overall size.

Ok, that’s all for now. I hope you all enjoyed my little slideshow. I don’t know when I’ll get internet access again, it could be another few weeks. As always, thanks for reading and for all of your comments…it’s great to hear your feedback on things! (and your encouragement of course J)

Love Owen

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's Official

Ok, I only have a few seconds to make this post because I'm about to head out to my site...where I'll be for the next two years, crazy! But, it is official, I am now Peace Corps Volunteer and not just a Trainee :). On Thursday, Sept. 10th, the entire group of trainees went to the American Embassy and were officially sworn in as PCV's. Afterward there was a party at the American Club (an oasis for Americans living in Mali...complete with a swimming pool and cheeseburgers!).

I have tons of pictures from the swear-in ceremony, and I attempted hooking up my camera to upload at least one...but as I was about to plug in the cable to the computer...I got zapped to the point of almost dropping my camera! to follow!

I have to go! Thank you again to everyone who left me posts. I love you all.