Political Briefs: News from Wisconsin
End of March 7 Column

Mali Journal

M, my older daughter, is in Mali with the Peace Corps.

Today we did our first field trip into Bamako.  I was in a group of seven that visited a restaurant.  It was much sleeker than the average village restaurant.  The young woman who owned it had gotten training and support from a nonprofit which some of us may be working with, and she was actually on the grounds of a government run women's training center.  She had a nicely maintained little building with a real stove and refrigerator, and there were pictures of her and the food she served on the side.  She even had a brochure to give us afterwards.  She specializes in traditional Malian dishes.  She takes samples to big organizations like Peace Corps or the embassies hoping they'll place bigger orders, and she also has walk up customers.  It was interesting to see, but the highlight was probably afterwards going to "Off Broadway Cafe" the best American restaurant in the country (apparently, obviously I don't have much to compare it too just yet), but I got a bacon cheeseburger, a beer and ice cream.

We've almost been in Mali for three weeks.  Initially I wasn't super excited to be coming back and having to be surrounded by other volunteers, but it has turned out to be a needed break from village.  I played some soccer and volleyball last night with the guys, and went for a run this morning with two other volunteers.  It is just generally nice to understand and be understood.  I'm not as big a fan of the cultural and Peace Corps philosophy classes as the language classes, so I am looking forward to getting back to the Bambara classes, but again, since we are doing those six days a week at homestay, along with having to use it with our families, the break has been nice.

I just tested out my "new" bike.  It is kind of janky, but I'll be happy to have it to cut my commute to class down to a third.

Today I got bitten through my clothes by the mosquitoes.  In general, they're not terrible, but today they were merciless.  I don't know if it was the fieldtrip or here at Tubaniso.  They supply us bug repellant, but I'd only been putting it on exposed areas, I guess I need to be even more liberal.