Quiet and safe camping in the west of Mali
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July 2014, English

Here’s my ramblings on the month of July 2014

I can be short about the month of July, and so I shall (perhaps). There are only two things noteworthy in this month, both made it a bummonth.
The first was that it was ramadan. In this month there is not much activity. Everybody hangs around, waiting for the sun to go down. People are bad tempered and moody, have bad breath. Everybody works on half speed, if at all. The market is empty, not a decent vegetable in site. People do not show up at appointments and there is an atmosphere of general apathy.
Second and much worse was that the rainy season did not start properly. In July it should be raining several times a week but it remained mostly dry. If it did rain, it was not the usual 30 or 40 mm but a poor 3 to 5 mm, just wetting the topsoil, until the sun came out and burned it all dry again. The little stream besides my house, which usually flows like a rapid, had a little trickle of water in it. Those people who are dependent on the harvest are complaining a lot. If the harvest fails, there will be hunger in Mali. Not something Mali can have at the moment.
Those who have already planted, as have I, see their crops dry and small. The maize, which should be a meter high by now, nearly reaches my ankle. Maize is the fastest crop, needing 3 months of growth. But if it continues like this, the maize will be to small.

End of July was the end of Ramadan with the accompanying party of Eid. Money is being spend like crazy. Great amounts of food, new clothes for the whole family, bottles of coke, haircuts. Most of the budget for next month is being spend. As if there is no problem looming on the horizon.
I was invited by several people on this Holy day. At 10 in the morning I was sitting with a huge plate of meat and liver in front of me, trying to work it away. This was repeated one hour later at my second visit after which I could not think to eat even one bite more. Slowly returned home, every bump in the road I could feel the food rolling in my stomach. Left the other visits for what they were, disappointing Boly and the village of Dialakoto.

Mali has an official postal service. Even in my village there is a post office, right next to the bank. When I settled here, I proudly opened a postoffice box. The boxes are old and dented and could not be locked. Anybody could steal the contents, but these things luckily do not happen here.
The strange thing is, nobody sends anything by mail. Is it because the mail service is not dependable? Or to slow? Or both? I do not know. But if you have to send something, you give it to the bus driver. Last month I needed to pay some money to finally get my properties ownership documents. It was given to the bus driver, in a big envelope. The recipient was called that the money is on its way, the bus driver calls the guy on arriving and the recipient comes to collect it at the bus station. Fast and efficient. Until the money gets lost of course, then nobody wants to take responsibility. Hey, this is Africa.

Anyway, I promised I would keep it short. Ending with just mentioning that at the end of July still no rains. Until next month, lets forget this month, quickly.

Greetings from Magnificent Mali

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