A Travellerspoint blog

June 2007

On to Nana Kenieba

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Hello everyone,

We are still in Bamako but will be heading to the village, Nana Kenieba, tomorrow. We will be there for the next 3 weeks, working on the malaria surveys and other ones. Then we will return to Bamako to meet Dr DeVore and Mark, Kris, Aaron, and Joe, then we will head back to NK again. We are having a nice time in Bamako but are anxious to get to the village and do what we came to do. It is also very very hot here and we hear it is much cooler there, though still in the 90s every day. I suppose we should mention that while in Nana Kenieba we will have no internet connection, so the travel blog will be pretty quiet for the next several weeks. I promise a big, detailed entry and some great pictures when we return. As of now we havent taken any photos in Mali, we are working hard to adjust to the language, the heat, and the customs. Our Bambara is coming along, lots of people like us to try to speak it and give us credit for trying. Everybody is very nice. We have a good friend called Amadou who comes around the city with us to help us out. He speaks good English so we have a good time communicating in 3 different languages here.

One interesting cultural story we have comes from last night. We were told that there was a ceremony going on in the house. After trying for a long time to guess what was going on, somebody informed us that our host Salif was getting a second wife, and this was the ceremony for that. We greeted everyone and saw the veiled new bride, dressed in white for the ocassion. We werent allowed to go in for the ceremony as we are not Muslim, but we had a good time talking with the guests and experiencing something very new. The new wife and him will live in Libya, where he has already been working and living for awhile.

So that is about all we have been up to lately. We will go photograph Bamako some now and post some pictures when we can. Internet is, not suprisingly, not the most reliable here and pretty slow, but pictures will come someday.

We miss you and love you,
Mariel and Ben

Posted by vagabundos 08:59 Archived in Mali Comments (0)

Mali at last

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Hello,

We made it here to Bamako, Mali last night ... or very early this morning really. Our flight was good, packed and very lively for 3am. We are staying at a host family's house here until we meet with Dr Bagayoko; the Malian doc with Medicine for Mali. They are very nice and have a nice home in the city. We should head out to the village later today or probably tomorrow. Today We are traveling around Bamako in the sweltering heat with one of our hosts, Amadou. He is helping negotiate prices and lead us through the chaos. Mariel bought some exciting African wear today too. This city is very different than any we have seen before and looks something like the Africa we have imagined. Stay tuned for pictures; right now we dont have any though. Please excuse the short entry; the keyboards have a strange layout, so I am half using the old hunt and peck typing method! That is all for now, we'll keep you as updated as possible!

Love,
Ben and Mariel

Posted by vagabundos 08:18 Archived in Mali Comments (0)

Well, not quite the last night after all

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Hello again,

We thought we'd update our loyal subscribers :) and let you all know what's going on with us tonight. We were supposed to leave for Bamako, Mali tonight, but when we arrived here at the airport, they told us that airline workers in Bamako are striking, so there are no flights in or out of the country. They say the strike should be over tomorrow or the next day, so we are hoping they're right. We can't find much info on this on the internet (any news would be appreciated) but it doesn't sound like too major of a thing. In the meantime, the airline has put us up in a very nice hotel near the airport with room and board on them, so we are not struggling or anything. The next flight (if the strike is over) is tomorrow evening at 11pm. We'll let you know what's going on as we do!

Mariel and Ben

Posted by vagabundos 14:54 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Last day in Casablanca

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Hello all,

We're hanging out in the internet cafe again (in case you're in Casablanca, it's Apollo Cafe and they have great banana juice); we come here enough to email that they know us and shake our hands. Sadly it's probably our last visit, as we leave for Bamako, Mali tonight. The flight is at 11pm, so we will start working our way toward the airport via taxi and train at about 6 or 7. The flight will get into Bamako at 2:30am or so, and Dr. Bagayoko (most often Dr. B) of Medicine for Mali will pick us up then and take us to our host, Fanta's, house. She gets a lot of visitors from the US, as her husband was in Nebraska at a university for awhile. Mariel has been working on learning Bambara, the local language in Nana Kenieba, and Ben's French is getting quite good (Mariel's is slowly coming along). Our stay here in Casablanca has been great. We've tried lots of interesting foods and drinks (with no negative repercussions) and seen some interesting sights.

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The Hassan II Mosque, 2nd biggest mosque in the world! It holds something like 105,000 people. This place is gigantic and very pretty.

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Here's the stairway inside our pretty cheap hotel. There is pretty tilework like this everywhere, so that's one stereotype about Morocco proving to be true. One that isn't is the wearing of full body covers by women. Some wear headscarves and long robes, but it seems like most women our age stick to jeans and tops like Mariel wears. Al-Jazeera is on in about every coffee shop, though. That may have been expected.

And just because we didn't post any pictures the other day from New York City, here's the standard "I went to NYC" shot:

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Hope everyone and everything back home is going well. We miss you and love you!

Mariel and Ben

Posted by vagabundos 07:06 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

The Journey Over

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Hi all! We thought we'd better say hello from sunny Casablanca, Morocco! We arrived a few hours ago and are lazing around in the hotel before getting some dinner and going to bed, early. It has been a long 2 days. We spent our 10 hour layover at JFK in New York walking around the city and saw some interesting sights: 5th Avenue, Central Park, Times Square, Madision Square Garden, etc. Our flight on Royal Air Maroc from NY to here was comical. We sat on the runway in the plane for 3 hours before leaving, and weren't told what was going on. Ben was zonked out quickly though, from Ambien, and Mariel had a book to finish anyway. They had good dinner and breakfast for us.

So, we are in Casablanca and have no specific plans until Monday afternoon, when we leave for Bamako, the capitol of Mali. We will just be relaxing and frantically checking mcat scores daily until it's time to get to work. Ciao for now!

Posted by vagabundos 10:49 Archived in Morocco Comments (1)

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