So I just found out that I will be in a small village called Kobalakura near Bamako (the capital city) for my language training. I am living with the chief of the village and there are two other volunteers (one of whom is my current roommate - she''s awesome) and another who is another alumna from UChicago. It is good times all around for sure. We are learning Bambara (the lingua franca here), but will probably also use French at our sites (we all scored pretty high on the exam).
My new Malian last name is Dialla which is important for the Malian custom of the bean joke. (Essentially there are only like 17 major last names, and many years ago they were all warring with one another, but as of late the fighting has stopped and has been replaced by joking. Each family name is associated with a trait (usually negative) which other Malians with different last names will use to make fun at each other when being introduced. It is supposed to reduce the awkwardness and tension of meeting people. It's called the bean joke because farting is like a huge faux pas, so calling someone a bean eater implies that they fart a lot.) I will let you know what the Dialla bean joke is when I find out.
Today was a lot of fun. We ate on the floor for the second time. The peanut butter sauce is delicious. I am still incredibly messy at eating the rice and sauce at the same time, and managing to get it in my mouth, but I'm getting better every day. There is some spice or flavor here that I can recognize, but not place, that I just can't eat, but otherwise I'm fine. I'm pretty excited to find out more about the food.
Yesterday I did my laundry (by hand!) and managed to get everything at least clean enough to wear again and look good. Granted, there are people who can do our laundry for us if we provide the soap, so I may not do it much, but I found it sort of relaxing.
Today we had a huge rainstorm midday and all of the lessons stopped until it slowed down. The wind and rains were so strong that they took out the awning over the door to our hut, and are now blocking the door (picture to come). They are fixing it soon.
I would also like to point out at this point that I have now taken a few pictures, but that my cord to upload them is in another bag, which I have yet to sort through. As soon as I have it there will be a post.
I also just got a cell phone here, and will get a sim card tomorrow. Whenever I have internet next (probably in two weeks) I will post my number. It's free for me to receive calls, and I think it can be pretty inexpensive to call from the states, so feel free to give me a ring anytime.
Anyway, I'm off to do some more bonding with my fellow (AWESOME!) PCTs and PCVs.