Field Trip, IT

April 5th: Head of IT announces he’s taking his annual vacation from April 5th until the week before finals (the 16th).

April 9th: Network goes down. Head of IT is the only one who can reset it.

By some miracle, the personal internet was back up, though, so overall could have been worse….

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Languages, juju curses

I hope you all had a blessed Easter.
We had a nice, quiet lunch.


So after the last post about the Malian people coming in and farming the forests….

There’s a woman who sells roasted peanuts on the corner of the university. I don’t know where she gets her energy. Every day I pass her, I’m greeted with, “Eeeeeehhh, camarade!” and given what I like to think of as the secret handshake (slide your palms together followed by a fistbump, then touch the fist to your heart. She takes such delight in teaching me things, such as schooling me on African French. She’ll speak to me (usually too quickly) the same phrases over and over, each day, until I start repeating them back to her. She asks me questions that she obviously doesn’t care about the answer.

Me: Je suis ici lundi.
Her: Eh? *confused look*
Me: Lundi?
Me: En deux jours?
Her: *face lights up* Aaaah, Lehn-di! Lehn-di!

It’s obvious French is not her native language, because sometimes here friends are there and they understand me.  (Maybe that’s why she’s so excited to teach me French? And is actually fairly good at it?)

Turns out, she’s from the Bambara people, which probably means she’s Malian. …so now I’m probably going to learn Bambara, too.

Other very common words/phrases (excuse the lack of appropriate accents):
On dit quoi? – What’s up?
Vas á oú? – Where are you going?
‘Ya monné? – Do you have change?
Faut monté – Said by taxi drivers when they accept your conditions (destination, change availability, etc)
Faut….- You have to…. Nobody says the “il” in “il faut”.
Bic – Pen
Yah koh! – I’m sorry; an expression of sympathy and encouragement.
C’est ca – That’s right, that’s it
Pas de problem – No problem
Ca c’est combien? – How much is that? This is the grammar used here. None of the stuff you learn in an actual French class.
On peut…. – Can I…./ is it possible to… I tried the “Puis-je….” suggested by Google translate when I first arrived, and nobody understood what I meant.
Pallu – Short for palludisme, or malaria. Small change, but it threw me when I went to the pharmacy.

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Misc photos

Things have become normal.

Of course everyone has chickens running everywhere.
Of course a herd of cattle is grazing on plastic beside the building.
Of course there is no change.
Of course the grocery/food stand happens to be out of the exact ingredient you need.
Of course you need to gut the chicken/fish yourself. Americans are weird for buying those tiny, sterile fillets.

So, here’s a bunch of random photos until something interesting happens. Or rather, something interesting that isn’t a bad thing, because if you can’t say something nice….

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Course maximums and registration deadlines are for sissies.

Last week was week two, and my classes were both at the maximum of 15 studies. I assumed that was it, assigned work, sorted students into groups for their research assignments.

You know what they say about the word assume.


Meanwhile, did I mention our microbiology supplies have come? It’s always like Christmas when supplies come. Here, it’s a Christmas miracle.


Me: Really, we should keep bases and acids separate. So they don’t fall over on each other and blow up the building.
Tech: We need more space.
Me: Yes.
Tech: And the bottles are not good, so the chemicals are evaporating. That’s why I keep the window open.
Me: …Wait, what?

Church services

So it’s about 8 PM last week, and I hear various sounds of various entertainment mediums drifting through my window. And suddenly, cutting through the singing of the insects:
“Noooooooooooow this is a story all about how my life got flipped,  turned upside down…”


The past two weeks, church has gone from 8 AM until after 1 PM.

I’ve heard stories about 5 hour church services in villages, and you think of our church services where you’re sitting through the whole thing and can’t leave etc etc. But services here are far different. (CAVEAT: I have not been to many, so this is based on the three places I’ve been + what I hear + what I see around town on Sundays.)

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New Year’s, Adventures of Lost Luggage

One of the expats has a term for our Christmas adventure. “Cultural Kidnapping.”

Later in the week, we had a Christmas Redo, with more traditional activities: a nice lunch, exchanging gifts around the Christmas tree*, Christmas music.

LM made cornbread stuffing (Texas native) from polenta cornbread, and it was the best thing ever. I learned that you cannot heat up mashed potatoes on the stovetop unless you want a gluey mess.**

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Christmas in Jacqueville

Well, there was Christmas traveling, microbiology training, searching for collaborations, re-writing class plans, and my boyfriend’s arrival, and I may never recover. I need a vacation badly. And tomorrow at least will be spent fighting with Ethiopian Air inquiring about the luggage they lost. Pray that they find it and deliver it, because none of us has the energy to fight.

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