[BING] Picked cotton for about two and a half hours.
[BING] Continued to jog every morning as the sun came up.
[BING] Greeted all the village families on my own.
[BING] Tried to milk cows. Failed.
[BING] Paid a social visit to the family next to mine, ate really good food with them, and even discussed previous and future ag volunteer work.
[BING] Helped another woman pull her water rather than be shooed away as soon as my bucket was full.
[BING] Made Aadama, one of the toddlers in my galle (family compound) laugh rather than cry by tickling her.
[BING] Made some other kid burst out in tears just by looking at him.
[BING] Ate goat meat. How do I know it was goat meat? Because I was sent home from the chief’s galle with the still-warm hunk of it, freshly chopped off the goat, in my hand. It was very tasty.
[BING] Gently fussed at the one little kid in my village who yells “Toubako!” at me; asked him his name and told him mine.
[BING] Chased kids out of my hut when they walked in without asking (part of my faltering campaign to establish boundaries of some sort).
[BING] Spent time with my father’s sister in her galle; wrote down two pages’ worth of new Pular words, which she attempted to “teach” me by pointing across the compound, saying a word, and then simply repeating that word again and again when I asked her to explain what it meant.
[BING] Had my first tearful breakdown in my hut immediately thereafter, but was laughing while I cried—it was just time to purge some of the stress that had inevitably built up.
[BING] Biked a four-hour round-trip to see other PCVs and go to Missira’s luma, a weekly open-air market. Well, it should have been a four hour trip, except that I got spectacularly lost somewhere in the four kilometers and one village between me and the main road and ended up following the Tamba airport’s fence in a cross-country expedition that John Ashcroft would have found highly suspicious. Saw a coyote. Bought two kilos of oranges for a dollar at the market.
[BING] Returned home with a puppy.
(Um, yes. A puppy. This should confirm the suspicions of everyone who was pretty sure Africa’s doing weird things to me, what with the getting up at 6am and jogging and whatnot. Apparently some strange things float to the surface when you shake yourself loose from just about everything that’s familiar to you… For the record, it’s Cory and Josh’s fault for bringing him to Missira, he’s about eight weeks old, of course ridiculously cute, and his favorite activity so far is falling asleep in my lap. His tentative name is “Patate,” or sweet potato in French, but I kinda want him to have a Pular name. We’ll see what presents itself. I think my village thinks I’m nuts. They’re probably right.)
Right. So, photo upload software is now installed; I hope by Christmas to be able to spend enough time in here to get swear-in and installation and the first of my village pictures posted.
Also, a million thanks to my parents, George, and Leslie for their fantastic care packages. I’m now well-stocked with reading materials and candy. And little packs of kleenex. Rock.