Certain times of the years are associated with family. These last few weeks have marked a huge milestone in my time spent here in Mali largely because we’ve entered into one of those time periods, the holiday season. The coming of Thanksgivings has really marked the transformation of San Kaw into a family. Sitting around a table composed of doors, eating native fowl along with the standards of stuffing and mashed potatoes and sharing what we are thankful for solidified my group of new friends into something more. For the next two years these guys are my family. However, another holiday has passed since my last blog post that I spent with my village family.
Tabaski is the largest holiday in the Islamic world and it was evident in the celebration put on in my village. The celebration lasts four day and it’s customs are sort of a fusion of Thanksgivings and Halloween, though the origin is very different. Everyone buys meat or slaughters an animal (in my village mostly goats) and eats a lot of a rare delicacy, meat. I also saw a lot of people making pasta from scratch which is a huge change from toh. Everyone is always eager to share their food, and this day was no different. I decided to walk around a greet people, I left with a plan. I was going to spend half the day in Sobala and the other half in other parts of town. Due to peoples hospitality the plan feel about and I didn’t even get to greet all my friends in Sobala before the sun feel. The first day of the four was filled the consumption of a jaw dropping amount of meat and at least two liters of tea. In addition to all of this, kids wander the streets and trick or treat sans costume. As far as days in site go, Tabaski was pretty awesome. My host family is Christian so they did not host a very large event, but they still took part in the fun that occurred. My host dad wandered around and had tea with many of his Muslim friends, and my uncle bought some meat.
Besides Tabaski I’ve spent a lot of time in the fields harvesting millet. Millet, the main ingredient in toh, is the staple crop for the region. All of the harvesting is done by had with the aim of a small knife and takes a little while to master. My speed has increased quite a bit since I started, but I’m still a lot slower than the guys that have been doing this all their lives. After harvesting gets done I expect things to slow down quite a bit, but I’m leaving for Bamako for training next week so I’m sure if I’ll see the change for a while.