Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Little by Little A Bird Build's His Nest


As the Bambara proverb says, "donne donne, little by little a bird builds his nest." That quite aptly describes my first month as a Peace Corps Trainee.

I have mastered the art of conducting my basic life functions in the absence of running water, electricity, toilet paper. If provided with access to a stable supply of food, Sudafed and chlorine tablets, I find that living without the creature comforts of Western civilization isn't so bad after all... it's kind of like camping, only with chickens, sheep, cows and donkeys.

After a month of linguistic shock therapy, I am now able to verbalize my basic life functions in halting Bambara. During my first few weeks of living in Sinsina, my only interaction with my non-Francophone host mothers consisted of rather awkward conversations; e.g. "Bucket!" "Water!"

But now I can actually say function as a human being in Malian society.

I knew that I had hit a milestone when I was able to string together this masterpiece: "N ye keni dun, ni loriebulu ye sigi keni kono. N tese ka a laje, ni a barisa n ye a dun. Koffe, a tarra yan; a barisa n ye fono la fali caman kerefe. fali ye n laje."

For those of you who have yet to pick up the Bambara tongue, "I was eating rice, and there were leaves in the rice (for flavoring). I could not see the leaves, so I ate one and it was lodged in my throat. So I vomited next to many donkeys. The donkeys were watching me."

Other masterpieces by yours truly, which unto themselves might shed some light on my daily life in Mali thusfar;

"Kunun su ye fono nka sheo kono. n be n ko ni sheola ni nka loofah. n te n ko fe ni sheola bi sogoma."

"Last night I vomited in my bucket. I wash myself with that bucket and my loofah. I do not want to wash myself with that bucket this morning."

"Ayi, n te ebolo fe. e ye kalo ebolo kono."

"No, I do not want to hold your hand. You sneezed in it."

"Ayi, Tupac sara."

"No, Tupac is dead."

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