I am passing through Bobo on my way to Bamako, Mali to attend a formation about the production/marketing of Shea Butter. It's an African trademark, and can be used in anything from shampoo to chocolate! It's an amazing, and severely under-utilized resource. Mike's Aunt is coming in July to tour some Shea Butter facilities in Burkina, and they are interested in exporting to Europe/US...so there are a lot of interesting opportunities on the horizon. I just might do something in the business sector after all...WOO HOO!
I have been feeling a bit introspective lately thanks to a book I have been reading, Tales of a Female Nomad (Rita Golden Gelman), which I HIGHLY recommend. It really forced me to look at my time here, and to appreciate it for the little things, the things that bring a smile to your face...that brighten your day. So, I thought I would share an experience that I just had...something that brought a smile to my day:
The sun peaks through my straw hangar, the thwack of the axe can be heard from across my courtyard, and the naying of the donkeys signal another day has begun. In Burkina Faso the last thing that I need is an alarm clock. As if set to a timer--even though usually NOTHING runs on time--my village comes to life as the sun peaks over the horizon. The people--and animals--start their day, whether I am ready for them to or not...there is NO snooze button.
I jump out of bed, thankful for the morning coolness as it flows over me, knowing that in 3 hours the sun will beat down and I will have to take refuge for a while from its rays. The mornings have always been my favorite, not only for the gracious breeze and cool air, but for the sounds and sights of my village coming to life.
For me, my mornings are the same. I lace up my shoes, take a gulp of water, and I set off. I pass several of my neigbors, all of whom have been up for hours already preparing breakfast and lunch, washing the children, cleaning the house, and preparing to set off to the fields--it is the rainy season and everyone has a field to tend to. As I run past I wave hello and pass my morning greetings to my neighbors--"Aw ni Sogoma," I shout as I jog by--Good morning in my village's local language of Joula. We rush through the greeting ritual as I pass by. At this point the odd looks have subsided, and most people just know me as the crazy american girl that "faire's le sport." Running is never done unless trying to get away from something, or in playing soccer...and most certainly not done that often by a girl.
I continue on my path through the mango groves which are teeming with ripe mangos. Their scent fills the air and I have to resist ripping one off the tree and eating it right there. I don't know if I will ever be able to buy fruits from a supermarket again. I wave to the villagers and children who are already in the grove, picking the mangos for sale in the market. I pass as the children make their way to school in the morning, carrying their little rice sack backbacks as they bound along. I dodge the various cattle, goats, and pigs along my route, Passing the river, and continuing on into the rice fields. The view is spectacular, and a far cry from 9 months ago when I was staring at the New York skyline from my office window. Oh, how much my life has changed in such a short time.
As amazing as all of this is, it is the end of my run that I look forward to the most. As I crest the hill out of the mango grove the familiar cry pierces the air. There is Brahim, my two-year old neighbor. "Madame! Madame!" he cries as he sees me come over the hill. He darts towards me from his courtyard, his little legs carrying him as fast as he can go. His eyes are lit up, and there is a smile on his face
that could light the world. Normally we shake hands, high five, and I pat him on
the head...but today is different. As he runs up I put my hands out and UP he jumps giving me the biggest little bear hug that he can muster. He has always been so shy to this point, and his affection surprises me. "Bonjour," he says...the only word of French I am sure he knows. He props on my hip and I jog him back to his mother. He pops down to the ground, gives me a hug and then runs back to his house.
I wave goodbye and finish up my run, just a little more energized than the moment before. Happy...content...that his hug is one of the highlights of my day...and something to look forward to every time I crest that hill to make my way home.Anyways...I hope all is well. I will update you soon on the happenings in Mali. Also, the tickets have been purchased...THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS...October 30-November 26th...Stephanie's Tour of America! I will be landing in NYC to visit Mike and friends, run the marathon with a Peace Corps buddy, party, EAT, and just relax. Then I am off to the big salty 'Ham (Birmingham to those of you who don't know) for family visits, my Dad's wedding, hopefully the Iron Bowl, and much more. Start planning your parties now...and our restaurant schedule. We are a mere 4 months away! Love you and miss you all...STAY CLOSE!