March 26, 2015

Things to do in Bamako: Les Mercredis du Patio (Concerts at the French Institute)

Every Wednesday evenings, the Institut Francais holds concerts in its little restaurant.  Yesterday, we went to listen to Djeneba et Fousco, a group from Kayes, a city in Western Mali.

Even though I was exhausted (I have been averaging about 5 hours per night for the last three weeks -- the antimalarial gives me bad insomnia), it was great to be back listening to West African music.

This is a panorama of the evening.

Update from Bamako, Week 3

Dear Family,

Hope you all are doing well. We wanted to send you an update about our life in Bamako. This is our third week here, and we are starting to discover the lay of the land. Though we live in a pretty sheltered neighborhood, with a small pool, we often have to venture out to super markets located in crowded neighborhoods. More than once, we've gotten lost on tiny side roads full of broken down cars, goats, and kids playing. 

We cannot do all our grocery shopping in one place. We usually have to go to a couple different small supermarkets to find everything, which takes a lot of time every week. Luckily, we find fresh fruits and vegetables at outdoor stands at very good prices. Right now mangoes and mandarins are in season, so they're plentiful and delicious. Adeel cannot find chicken breasts all the time, so he's learning to snap them up and freeze them if they're ever available.

We bleach our vegetables in one gallon of water and one capful of bleach--and have learned not to wear our best clothes when doing that (see picture of Dorothee's ruined shirt).

Bleaching our fruits and vegetables

Dorothee's shirt

The fruit stand where Adeel shops

Our pool

Adeel soaking in the pool after a hot day

A palm tree with coconuts in our back yard

In the dusty streets (whether paved or not), we frequently get accosted by people trying to sell us scents, toys, kleenexes, and plant hammocks

Unpaved roads are plentiful

Women dressed in boubous riding motos are a common sight in Bamako

Thankfully, we do find chocolate croissants and other sweets at local patisseries and boulangeries

Some sweets at a bakery that also serves excellent Lebanese food (Le Relax)

Adeel trying to play an African musical instrument at Mali Chic store

Streets are littered with trash--this is a really deep sewer that is completely filled. Where will the torrential rains of the wet season go?

Even if it takes a lot more time to source and prepare the ingredients, we are still able to cook the way we like.

Miss you all,
Adeel and Dorothee

You Got Mail!

The nice thing about being in Africa this time around is that:

1) I'm not an intern and thus receiving a real salary
2) I've moved here with my husband so I have an instant friend
3) I have access to mail services at the Embassy!

We have access to a military post office here in Mali...  It essential works exactly like a post office back home, but with delivery by plane to the Embassy mail room. here I come!

The drawback is that sometime, addresses get muddled.  Take for example a medication that my husband bought online.  He ordered it about 3 weeks ago, and it seemed to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.  Until today.

We found out it got delivered by accident... at the USS Bonhomme Richard!  An amphibious Assault ship!

Ya, that was definitely the wrong address.

March 08, 2015

We've Moved to Mali!

My husband and I recently moved to Mali!  Here's our first email to the families:

First Impressions
It's been a week and we like Bamako so far. Bamako is a bustling small city, full of motor cycles, women in Boubous, road-side vegetable stands, and kids trying to sell you prepaid cell phone cards. We are getting situated and have found some local grocery stores, which all seem to be owned by the Lebanese. Though costs are relatively low, our groceries have been double what they are in the States. We will get used to it soon!

Our house is very nice, but it is a little too big for us. We have two floors consisting of 3 full bathrooms, a master bedroom, 3 guest rooms, 2 lounges, a dining room, and a small pool. We have already gotten a gardener and maid, whom we pay out of our own expenses. But the house comes with around the clock guards that Dorothee's employee covers [husband Adeel is teleworking from Mali with a tech company based in Virgina.]

Security Situation
As you may have heard, in the early morning of March 7th, heavily armed assailants attacked a popular nightclub (not near our house fortunately), killing and injuring several Malians and 2 expatriates (a Frenchman and a Belgian). This is very unusual for Bamako. Dorothee is used to these types of incidents from her time in Congo, but is a little out of touch on safety and security issues, having spent the major of the last 8-10 years in the United States.

Daily Life
Dorothee walks to her office from our house every day, which is a total of 8 minutes by foot...  Adeel works at home, and has been able to do his work so far without issues. He is waiting on getting better Internet installed at the house, but it may not be all that much better! We went to a taco dinner just last night, and we look forward to trying more local food in weeks to come.

---Some Photos---

Our second day in town, we went to a great restaurant by the Niger River

Adeel was greatly relieved to find many different forms of recognizable meat

 This is Dorothee's Office...

... Just kidding!  This is Dorothee's Office (with Dorothee hard at work)                                    

The street that leads to our house

We have a dryer, but our maid insists on drying our clothes this way

Crossing a bridge over the Niger river

A very big lizard (behind the chair) - Adeel insisted on including this photo.

Stuck in a traffic jam!