You are here

My first days in Africa

So I broke my promise to write every day. But maybe I can start to fix this now. I just woke up, and my head feels a bit achy. First I actually like have to warn you that like my English is probably like, so much more Northern American now. My fourth day in Africa. Apart from my hangover I’m really feeling good. No need for culture shock absorbers. No extreme heat - yet. Only a a bit dusty now and then. Yesterday I woke up at 5:30 to drive to Yanfolilla with the Geekcorps 4WD. While on the road I found out about the sandstorm caused by such a big car driving in sandy environments, which confirmed the story a bit that the Carribean coral riffs are being destroyed by 4x4s driving through the Sahara. After some hours on paved road and an hour on unpaved road we arrived at our destination... Now, the reason that we were going to Yanfolilla was the recent connection of Wassoulou radio to the internet: a launch party! We joined the toubabs and local officials on the stage and together with a huge crowd of children we watched dancers and musicians and triggerhappy men carrying huge rifles - fortunately noone got hurt. We were treated to ernsthaft speeches in French and their subsequent translations into Bambara. There was talk of connecting Yanfolilla’s high school to the internet as well, which is actually a great thing. Ten years ago, in high school in the Netherlands, there was no internet connection... So even if there’s no paved road within 80 kilometres, the possibilities for the local youth in terms of information and communication are very promising. I also talked to the plumber, who appeared to much more knowledge hungry than the average western craftsman. He was very much interested in Wikipedia and in sharing of knowledge and information. By the time the talks were finished it was noon and time to see the technology. No actual demonstration was given, people glimpsed and stared at the computers and the satelite dishes, which were probably very alien to most of them. Being a vegetarian in Mali is not superconvenient, but it’s probably just about the same as in France or Barcelona - herbivores need to be prudent and not too picky. So I was happy to see the veggy (!) salad, followed by rice and vegetables with the fishy stuff seperated in a another big bowl. During and after the ride back to Bamako I tried to sleep a bit - in vain - and headed for some Chinese food. Most customers of Chinese restaurants are actually not coming for the food, instead they head upstairs for a private room... Interesting cultural experience. Then Laura was pressed to go to a Canadian place nearby, where there was a surprise goodbye party! Many NGO folks, but not only - there were some muscled American guys who looked like they didn’t vote Kerry the 2nd of November. They appeared to be marine corps who are stationed here in Bamako. I started to get really tired after some drinking and dancing, but since it’s my first week I couldn’t resist joining folks to the Golden Hippo. The band had already stopped playing so the place was pretty empty apart from some Malians and a bunch of older French expats. We decided to go to Biblo’s, which is an extravagant place for the better off - 7500 CFA entry fee, which we didn’t pay because there was a Lebanese guy with us who knew someone of the staff, and soft drinks for the crazy sum of 3000 CFA, which is like 4.5 EUR - just as expensivo as in Paris! On top of that there was Western music, better sound system than I’m used to hear in Europe and a fancy dancefloor... Not really a place I would like to hang out every weekend - and I probably won’t... So now I’m typing this with a slight hangover, after having enjoyed the pool. A+!