I wake up at 6:45 to pounding on my gate. Ants have infested my house and are hiding under the things sprawled on the floor. They crawl up my ankles as I unlock the front door and let Aly and Seykou into my courtyard. They go in my house to get the jug of water for my bath, and find the ants. Seykou disappears for a moment, returning with a broom, and sweeps a black squirming carpet of ants out of my house. I could lift handfuls of them off the ground if I were so inclined. The Bambara word for ant is menemene, and I smile at the resemblance to the word menace; they are well named. Later, Seukou shakes white insecticide powder over my yard to kill the ants. I’ll look up natural remedies to keep them at bay later.
Throughout the morning, a procession of community members come to greet me in my compound. In addition to community members, my closest neighbor Tom and some Peace Corps staff come to check up on me and see how my site visit is going. My host dad Adama has it translated for me that they want me to know they are doing the things they’re doing because they think these are the things that will make me happy. They only want for me to be happy, so if anything displeases me, let them know, because they understand I am from a different culture with different customs, and they’re happy to do whatever it is that will make me happy.
We go to visit the dugutigi as well, this time with Peace Corps staff. It is translated for me that the dugutigi says he was thinking about me all of last night, and how hard it must have been for me to spend my first night alone in a new village so far from my home. He wanted me to know that this is now my home too, and anything they can do to make it feel more like home, let him know.
I am still struck by the unexpected insightfulness of these comments from my village. The majority of my community has likely never traveled farther than a few hours from home, and yet they are very aware of the possible and inevitable difficulties in my transition into their community. I am humbled and set at ease by their welcome.← The Arrival Odds and Ends →