Journal observations
8th December 1999

During mango season, so much fruit falls from the trees that even the goats can’t keep up. Q says that during the hot season (read: temperatures of 50 degrees and over!) he eats 3 of these giant mangos a day, and just lies on the floor of his house.

MANGO COBBLER (from the fridge of the Bougouni stage house)
½ cup butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
pinch salt
1 cup milk (4 tbs NIDO and 1 cup water)
4 cups mango, chopped

1. Melt butter in a baking pan
2. In a bowl, mix flour, ½ the sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk and stir until moist.
3. Mix the remaining sugar and mango chunks in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Add cinnamon to taste.
4. Pour flour mixture over melted butter. Pour mango mix over that. Bake 40-45 mins until brown.

Am writing from the Sikasso stage house. Q just told me he’s not going on the Timboctou trip – BASTARD.

Anyway! After visiting the Bougouni stage house I headed off with Christine in a very dusty bache to Kebila (her village) near the road between Bougouni and Sikasso. She is a useful mine of information! We had to stop off at the neighbouring town during our ride, to greet at a funeral. It was just a cluster of men sitting silently under some trees, with her dugotigi in pride of place. We are invited to eat round the bowl, and offer some money as a token, and continue our trip. On our way we pass a barren strip of land Christine called the ‘UFO landing pad’ – no trees or plants or anything.

When we arrive at the Kebila general store, we greet all the locals who hang there, and moto off to her site. A very cute house, with guest huts, a gwarr and lots of homely touches. And a dog called Georgie who rounded up all the goats and chooks! She said that when she teaches her kids art at school, she had huge difficulties teaching them creativity, and how to express themselves. It just isn’t encouraged at all in this culture. They would start by drawing really small, and she had to encourage them to draw bigger.

After a bath, we went for some local bird-watching in a nearby rice paddy, where the women threshing rice there invited us to join them. Little boys also followed us down the path, copying everything we did. We started skipping, hopping and zooming around like planes, which they imitated faithfully. Then back to Chistine’s neighbour Mani, to pick up wooden stools to see Marimar! Finally!! We joined about 20 neighbourhood kids and adults in front of an old telly with bad reception, in the dark. One guy kept fixing the aerial, and of course the car battery out the back. The kids wouldn’t have understood the French dubbing, but got into the show anyway, clapping and yelling at the melodrama. Weird characters – Marimar, her lover Sergio, Innocentia, a talking dog, and even a token black character with jangling earrings and headscarf, who was their favourite. We also saw sensational ads for Jumbo and PMU Mali (Tattslotto).

After that we went around to Christine’s neighbour’s house for a great peanut sauce and rice, salad, logo and rice pudding. Everyone laughed at my attempts to eat with my hands, but in a friendly way I hope! Next day, her friend Aminata saw me off, insisting I take some oranges and a basket. I have found that those with less often give more. We sat around the general store waiting for the bache, and I sat in the shade holding Aminata’s baby, who was huge and giggly. I am always staggered by people’s generosity here – Christine was so great – she just invited me to get a taste of ‘small village life’.


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