A few things I learned…

January 19, 2013
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(This article was originally published at Gianluca Baio's blog, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

Here's a quick list:

1. Un petit peu français; mostly, it's still guess-work and making up stuff; but I've also learned a few phrases and words. I kind of manage to go around and ask for directions or buy things in the shops. Sometimes I punch way above my weight and try to make more serious conversations (usually with the French lady who's hosting us in her house), only to miserably fail and increase the amount of made up words by a million-fold.

2. Baby's formula milk is horrible. On the other hand, changing nappies is not as terrible as I thought it would be. Also, the length of snots in babies is incredible.  

3. There's a weird monopoly in the motorcycles market, here in Bamako. For some reason, everybody seems to own a KTM Power K, and I mean: everybody! There are a few different colours, but the model is always the same. And they don't even bother customising their own. People don't seem to get confused, though. Of course, nobody is wearing an helmet (well: actually that's not true. We did see the same guy a couple of times, who was wearing a proper helmet. Most people just use a hat, though).

4. Mali is a strange mixture of very modern things (eg everybody has a mobile phone) and things that in Europe, I guess, were popular with at least a generation before mine (eg children playing rolling a tyre).

5. Some people employed in the Malian public sector have very strange ways; their work ethic is questionable, as are their proof-reading skills. But then again, I'm told that most get paid every three or four months; I guess this changes the perspective a bit.

6. Some people employed in the Italian diplomatic sector have even stranger ways; I was impressed by the Embassy (which is located in Dakar and covers the whole of Western Africa): they were friendly, quick in responding and very helpful. But, so far, I have definitely not been impressed by the Consul here in Bamako $-$ for all sorts of reasons, the services he provided are, let me put it politely, waaaaaay below par.

7. It's really nice to wake up in the morning without even wondering what the weather will be like, and just knowing it will be sunny, dry and 31 degrees.



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