Lizards are running around in the garden, the kitchen and the house, the wind is blowing, covering everything that had just been cleaned with a fresh layer of desert dust, unfamiliar germs attack the immune system, mosquitoes seem to have a preference for white skins, the temperatures are high and the availability of vegetables depends on the season.
Why on earth would anyone like to be in Mali, you might wonder…
Quite often I’m asking myself why – of all places on our amazing planet – I ended up in Mali. I love hiking in nature, I love the seasons: the lush green spring and the amazing autumn colors, as well as a nice cold winter with lots of snow and a summer that invites you to get out of the house. I love veggies in a large variety being available year round as well as it being natural that electricity, water and internet are up and running. I also love being able to express myself in a language I know well or something as simple as shopping in a hardware store.
And yet, I love being in Mali!
My body is adjusting to the temperatures and my intestines have gotten used to the different kind of germs, boosting my immune system. I have gotten used to not having too much choice when it comes to veggies or food in general, and I just love and appreciate it even more when a goodie box arrives or something different is for sale.
Power failures are numerous, taking me away from my computer, into the garden, enjoying some quiet time and creating room for other things to do. Okay, it’s quite annoying when there’s no water, but when it starts running again it is so much more appreciated to take a refreshing shower. Internet might not work for even a couple of days and there’s no way to change it. I just accept not being able to answer my customers and trust that they’ll understand. Again I enjoy the time given, take a break or even read a book.
The lack of a decent hardware store makes me way less picky. I’ll take any kind of screws, as long as they kind of fit the job. Same for the color of paint and pretty much anything else and whenever we succeed in finding something above Chinese quality it’s worth a small party.
A glass of homemade lemonade or ginger juice is a treat, as is butter or a not too sweetened yoghurt. And whenever I’m in Bamako I thoroughly enjoy a mouthwatering multigrain bread, making up for the annoyances of Mali’s capital.
I love the sleepy desert atmosphere of legendary Timbuktu, laid-back Ségou, the Niger river, Djenné’s mud structures, the bright starry heavens, the sounds of the women pounding millet in the early morning, the cute birds (even though they eat the vegetable plants in the garden), beyond words Dogon Country and most of all I love the people, who still have time for each other.
Mali makes me appreciate the small things, the (not always so) common things.
It highlights the abundance of stuff available elsewhere that you can easily live without.
Not yet understanding all of the local language or the local habits and heritage often makes me feel humble. As does the generous hospitality of the Malian people.
In Mali the beauty of simplicity is adding color to the landscape, making me forget about many things, and accepting and appreciating even more things.
It’s hard to explain!
Maybe you’ll just have to experience it yourself…