I’ve found the perfect picture to represent my initial travels to Africa. I have no idea what this plant is; it is quite beautiful, but those thorns are pretty nasty looking. In Mali I have felt so amazingly welcome by everyone I meet. People are jovial, animated, and so open that it takes a while to get used to just genuine people. Everyone laughs and is comfortable with who they are. The weather is warm, the nights perfect, and I’ve never felt so in touch with the moment. Even in these tough times, people remain hopeful and revel in their profound sense of community.
Then there are the thorns in my experience…in addition the rather scary political unrest which kept us confined to Bamako and spending hours at a time not understanding what everyone is saying, today I had to go to a clinic because the sores on my feet. I have for the past week been nursing ever reddening wounds caused by popped heat blisters. Every day it got a little worse until I could barely walk without great discomfort. I’m also really tired, but I don’t know if that is due to infection or if it is just that more tiring to have to walk gingerly and still have it be painful. This the third day in a row I wake up and don’t wan to get out of bed because I know that first step will make me gasp, so we went to get some antibiotics and painkillers. The doctor took no time at all in telling me that I obviously had an infection, and he was surprised that we did not just have antibiotics on hand (I have Cipiro, but that is a total reset for serious sickness). The nice thing is that the visit, antibiotics and painkillers came out to 20,000 CFA ($40) total! However, being constantly tired and in pain every step I take is certainly not the way I wanted to spend my last few days in Mali.
Sore feet aside, it makes me so sad that Malians have to go through this problem which is not their own. Jess told me earlier that due to the threat to large gatherings, the tradition of colorful and dance filled weddings which usually happen throughout Mali on Sundays will be subdued, small, and intimate affairs…very un-Malian.
I have no reason to stay, but I do not want to leave this place yet. I do not speak the language, have infected feet, am covered in red dust and flies constantly during the day and buzzed by mosquitoes at night; I have to boil water to drink it, can’t eat a lot of the food, pay too much for most things by local standards, and am constantly at a loss for why things are happening around me, but the people is where it is at. Mali is awesome because it is full of Malians. If you can’t get past the little things that annoy, you’ll never get to the real things that matter.