Mechanical Culture Shock

I have Culture Shock over a motorcycle shock. Mechanical failure number two. The oil seal on my motorcycles front shock went last week, so I took it to my mechanic. You may have read that story here.  Within fifteen minutes they had the front wheel off and a new oil seal put in place.  The bad…

When Security Gets on Your Nerves

  “No untroubled day has ever dawned for me.” ~ Seneca In our position in Mali we are advised to monitor news sources regularly. We have been informed that Humanitarian workers are prime soft targets in Mali right now. Great; we are not paranoid about it, but we certainly no longer toss that word around…

Not A Doctor

When is it time to stop playing Doctor in West Africa? “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.” ― Ernest Hemingway I think every expatriate I know has a copy of the book “Where There Is No Doctor”; and the book can…

If You Scare Him Too Many Times He’ll Die

We were invited for a visit by American friends living 104 km away in a very rural town. It’s really an oversized village. They have seven kids, and they are the most amazing children, extremely well adjusted to their surroundings. They are also hilarious to talk to. As I sat under the mango tree in…

The “Almost” We Call Africa

To the inexperienced eye things look like a disorganized mess in Mali. Everywhere I’ve been in French West Africa looks the same. But things work in their unique time and way. Take the bus station for example. When baggage handlers grab your bags and walk around to the back side of the bus loading one…

Is A Broken Motorcycle A Waste Of Time?

I don’t think so. But it depends on how you look at it. Abou, my roadside mechanic, is working on my motorcycle this morning. An oil seal on one of the front shocks is leaking oil. So, here i am, sitting street side on a bench, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and the bustling…

The African Security Joke

There is much discussion over security around Mali after twenty or more of 170 hostages were killed Friday.  A most devastating affair. I get it, something like this happens, we tighten up security for a few months, and then our security begins the slow decent back into a more lackadaisical default position. It is exhausting…

Marriage Advice From Bamako

I was told Malian’s love beards, so I began growing one about six weeks before my next scheduled work term in Mali. Seriously, I was pushing out this glorious red mane on my face, despite that my once red head hair is now seriously bleached out. Our Bamako friend, Armee, our go to for everything,…

Hostages Or Hospitality? Goodbye Nestor

Today in Bamako armed men stormed a Hotel, taking 170 people hostage. Special forces went in, most are free now, with reports saying eighteen to twenty eight bodies were found.  Everyone in Bamako is on pins and needles. It is sleepy out our way, but we stayed in for the day as advised by the…

Pimping Pop Cans In Sikasso

The people around my house in the main Market of Sikasso are so funny. They cracked me up today. Every January first we buy three cases of pop and give it to the folks in the shops below me in my building and those out the side ally of the market where we enter and…

Friendships Run Deep And Sacrificial In Africa

Stories about welcome. We have done nothing here yet because we are locked into the process of “ARRIVING”, just showing up, and people have given and given of themselves when we have little to offer in return right now. It is humbling. A lady named Shari, a life long resident of Mali made our arrival…

I Stood In Silence And Reflection In Paris France Today

I am in Paris, France today, at Charles De Gaulle airport with a six hour layover into West Africa. This is only two days after the terrorist attacks and the day (November 16th) France declared a “National  Day Of Mourning”. At twelve noon there was one minute of silence and reflection. I am not aware…