I arrived at my site after a long day of travel. The first leg of the trip was a 3 hour bus ride from Bamako to Kita. We took a decrepit looking coach bus that was so packed that the only seat left for me was the death seat next to the bus driver. I was glad that there was a seat belt that could buckle, but it was rendered completely ineffective after I realized that I could not tighten it. Also, since there was no A/C on the bus they kept the door right next to me wide open the entire time. Luckily, there was a bus attendant (in the form of a teenage boy) standing in the door way, so if I were to fall, I might have had the possibility to be saved. The ride into Kita was picturesque-very green and lush with mountain ranges lining the road. After arriving in Kita around 11am, my homologue and I went to his wife's mothers house to rest and eat lunch until our Sotrama (van/taxi) left at 2pm. After piling into another overcrowded taxi where I sat on rice bags for my seat, I arrived in my homologues town from where I biked 7 km to my site!
My site is absolutely gorgeous! The village is something right out of a storybook. There are round thatched huts interspersed between amazing trees and gardens-again, absolutely gorgeous. I have my own two huts with a thatched awning in between for some shade. I have my own nyegen/shower area and the whole compound is enclosed with bamboo fencing. I also have the perfect little patch of land for a garden! Since my site is new, it wasn't fully complete, and I didn't have any furniture, so I stayed with a host family.
I had my first mini freakout (a "wow, what am I doing here all the way in Africa" moment) my first night at site. I was with a new family who I didn't know, and I was out in the boonies with no cell phone reception. All I could think was, if I am ever sick again (or I should say, when I get sick again) like I just was, or if I ever need to contact anyone for security reasons etc, what am I going to do??!! So, after a worrisome and restless night, because I broke out in blisters all over my leg (most likely from a bite from a blister beetle), I tried to greet the next day with some optimism and a better attitude. Thankfully, my mind was put to rest when the Peace Corps Regional Coordinator from Kita came to visit me that day to go over protocol (meeting the village chief and mayor etc.) He told me that my village is going to be getting cell service within the next two months (but on Malian time, who knows how long that will really take...) Also, in the mean time I can use a phone cabine in the village if needed.
Since it is farming season right now, the village was empty all day as everyone was in the fields, so my days at site were spent reading, studying, writing letters, and entertaining the younger kids. There was one young girl who would cry, scream, and run away whenever she would see me! Many times, parents use 'white people' as threats telling their children that if they do not behave, the Toubab will come and eat them.
After 2 nights at site, I went back to Kita to stay at the regional house and meet all of the other volunteers in the area. We had a wonderful meal (taco's!) and then hung out in the A/C watched some movies and played some trivia. After spending the night there, me and the 3 other male trainees traveled back to Bamako together (on another hot and sweaty coach bus, but this time I was luckily not in the death seat).
Right now I am about 2 weeks from swearing in and becoming a real volunteer! We had our mid-training language exam last week, and I scored high enough already that I don't have to take the final exam! So, for now all I am going to do is enjoy my time with the other volunteers before we are split up and sent to site!
Much Love and Peace!