Subject: I know what Zut means!
Date: Saturday 6th November 1999
I read with rising concern about your malaria diagnosis. It’s such a pity – you will have to be very disciplined about taking your tablets. As you may know also the bug (if unattended) can lodge in your liver and there it can multiply. In extreme cases it can develop into blackwater fever. SO YOU MUST TAKE GREAT CARE. My source of this information is a couple of your Ma’s books and Le Docteur Kate. Sorry about these concerns, but I’m just being a Dad. X
Journal entry 4th November 1999
Bumped into Yoro, who I keep bumping into in Dakar – he and I drank tea in the main street, and we had a big chat about marabouts in Senegal.
These guys are in direct communication with God and are trained from birth. Any children he has (male or female) are marabout. You visit him as you would a priest and bring seven cowrie shells, which he blows on in a clenched fist and scatters on the ground to tell your future. From this he can also tell you your past. He eats and sleeps little, and also works all day. His disciples are the little boys (the World Vision kids who follow me around), whose families were too poor to keep them, who are told to go out and beg.
TEA IN SENEGAL
-small bag Chinese green tea
-bunch of mint
-huge bag of sugar
-bottle of water
-2 little glasses
-small enamel teapot
-brazier, small bag of coals, paper
-a lot of time
Fire up the brazier by placing coals on top of kindling in the top part. Light paper in the bottom part and put brazier in a windy place – it will light. Measure out 2 small glasses of water into the pot with half a bag of the tea. When it is brewed, pour half a glass from a great height from the pot. Pour from the first to the second glass repeatedly until it is frothy. Pour this back into the pot with a large hunk of sugar. Repeat the above, then pour into glasses from a height. (le premiere). To say cheers, clink the top of the glass saying ‘kinding’, then the bottom saying ‘kindung’. For the second glass of tea, brew with mint and more tea from the bag. The third glass should be the weakest, about an hour down the track.
Date: Tuesday 2nd November 1999
Well, malaria heh! Welcome to West Africa! The land of vicious mosquitoes and deadly parasites!! Actually I had a huge malaria attack two months ago. It certainly wasn’t too fun! I was shook up like a salamander’s tail being cut off.
As for Malian’s culture when one knows the other is ‘under the weather’ we often give them tons of benedictions… so here they go… ‘ala ka tooro dogoya! Ala ka sini usaya bi ye! Ala ka here caya!’ and by accepting the benediction you would say ‘Amina, ala ka dugo mene’ it means that you thank god and wish it will be accepted – so hopefully there will be health and peace in your travel.
Mali is turning into a ‘freezy’ winter, the tropical rain and its humidity have been diminished, nevertheless the golden, yolk-egg-like, of the morning sun, one can only be inspired and overwhelmed by its natural beauty and magnificence.
For my works as a Peace Corps volunteer they are all in a good term. I have been established dozens of ‘soak pits’ in the communities of my surrounding villages. ‘Soak pits’ are a drainage system for waste water basically a big hole in the ground, filled with rocks. It might not be very comprehensible to you for it is very foreign to all our western world. Well, being in the 3rd world situation of living, most waster (humans and all sorts of beings deliver their waster right where they reside). This is a contribution to all sickness and problems in the country.
As for me, I shall meet you in Bamako very soon and will come to the gare to pick you up. Mali is perhaps quieter and friendly; however there are snobbish functionaries and ‘ass-holes’ running around at the train gare. So, watchout, ok, sweet! Anyhow bon voyage! See you soon, I’d like to give you a benediction in Bambara: Ala ka sira d’I ma! (May God show you the road). Q