December 2013 Engels
December is a wonderful month in Mali. The temperatures are moderate, clear skies. A bit like summer in Holland without the clouds. Temperatures range between 14 at bight and 25 to 30 during the day. Its however also the month of the great burning. The burn everything and everywhere, the skies can be dark with all the smoke. Ash falls out of the sky like rain. If there is wind there might be Sahara sand in the sky, all this not to good for people with respiratory problems. Luckily I am free of this so I am enjoying it.
Contrary to the building of the garden for the women of Dialakoto, the construction of the school went ahead without major problems. At this moment (second week of december) the roof is finished, doors and windows are placed and the last work is being done on ceiling and electricity. Rest is painting and finishing. I assume all work will be finished in two weeks time.
The construction of the garden was having a setback. At first all went well. I connected the water supply, installed 8 taps. Then it was time to dig the holes for the fence and on doing this, the wife of the chef-de-village told me that the old man had decided to decrease the size of the land by 5 meters. I was not to happy with this but with some adaptions I could cope. So changed the holes and placed all the poles for the fence. Working on this one day, the chef-de-village happened to stroll by. I asked him why he changed his mind and diminished the land with the 5 meters. The reply I got was one of 10 minutes long, I understood not a word since it was all in the local language. Luckily one of the workers, translated his 10 minute response in one sentence. The chef had changed his mind and using his land for the garden was not a good idea. I could feel myself wanting to strangle the old man so I just left the work place to cool off.
Next day I called the Mayor, since he was involved with the initial negotiations, but the guy was nowhere to be found, he was on election tour somewhere in the brush.
It was a week later that I got hold of him. I am coming right now, he screamed through his phone. Never saw him. The same thing happened the next day and I sort of gave up on him. Decided, again a day later, to visit the chef myself and ask what had happened.
It seemed the villagers had put some pressure on the chef, and he told me it was ok to use the 5 meter and to continue the construction of the garden. But I had enough of his traffic light decisions and told him I would only continue if he had signed the contract. The chef told me, more then once, that he had already signed the contract and he did not want to sign the same paper twice. Having my doubts about this I returned home, not really knowing what to do now. Lady luck was with me and on the way home I ran into the mayor. He promised me he would get the contract signed today and this time he came thru. I could continue the construction.
As said before there where again elections in Mali. Lots of noise and lots of gifts. T-shirts, footballs, packets of cigarettes and perhaps money. No gift, no vote is the Mali way of elections. Your program might be the best, if you do not give anything people will not vote for you. But all has passed. The local representative lost. The turnout was very low. Heard on the BBC radio that turnout was low because one does not have faith in the politicians here. They are all corrupt, no matter which party. They work to fill their own pockets and not for the country. Usually I take the BBC reporting with a sack of salt, they usually only report for their own (English) interests. But this time they might be right. Corruption is here in all layers of society. Without a bribe you get little done in this country.
Example of this is my visit to the local forestry department. They are responsible for controlling the cutting of wood for one. And everyday i hear people cutting trees around me. So payed them a visit to see what they are doing about this. On arrival there was just one guy, being bored and watching TV. I asked him where his boss was. he was gone with some white folks to visit the national park nearby. In other words, he was making money for himself. I knew there was supposed to be another guy who should be patrolling and checking the wood being sold in the market. He is coming in 15 minutes, the bored TV watcher said. So I returned 30 minutes later and the guy was there, also sitting relaxed, drinking thee and watching TV. When I asked him, he told me they were understaffed and did not do much. This means, give me some money and I will go and check, if not, I will sit and watch TV all day.
The second week of december the chef-de-village finally signed the contract and I could continue my work on the garden for the woman. Finished placing the poles in cement, connected the fence and the wire. It costed me a lot of time because had to accompany all the work myself. So drove up and down many times every day.
In the meantime some tourist visited my campsite. Richard woudenberg, a dutch motorbike rider, Ria and Gerrit, a dutch couple and Stina and Turmi from Switzerland. All nice people with lots of stories, so there was a lot of blabla in between all the work.most came for just a night but stayed almost a week. A sign that my place is a good one.
On Christmas day 5 young chickens were born. So I gave them names from the holy book. Jesus, Maria, casper, Melchior and Balthazar.
Further all wel, my health was good and decided to stop smoking on the 1st of January. But more about that in next month’s story.
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