Monday, April 23, 2012

The Facts

There are some things we should get out of the way before we continue this relationship.

Number 1:
Good news, everybody!  I'm going to Cameroon.  Still in Africa, still mostly French speaking, and I will be doing community development work.  Probably trying to improve health by reducing the spread of diseases like AIDs and malaria.  We are pleased with this change; Cameroon honestly looks to be a better fit for me than Mali would have been.  We are less pleased with the start date being in September.  C'est la vie.

Number 2:
I intend to use this blog to tell stories.  Either because I think you'll like to hear them or it entertains me to tell them.  I hope to steer away from just listing things I do.  That sounds boring and mundane, even if the setting will be Africa.  All the stories will be true or based on truth.  They will be fisherman tales full of exaggeration and the occasional downright lie.  I promise to only lie for good.  Or when it amuses me.

Number 3:
Apologies are in order for the excessive use of profanity.  Or maybe just for my refusal to omit the profanity.  I swear profusely.  Sometimes extravagantly.  Maybe egregiously.   Often needlessly.  But always with pleasure.  Nothing has ever broken me of the habit.  You'd think that three years in a professional setting would have helped, but to be honest, my office would have felt at home on an episode of Mad Men (complete with period style hats!).  Plus my boss was a salty retired navy sailor.

You should know that sometimes this profanity may even be blasphemous.  Do not fret, I will atone for my sins eventually.  And I promise you, my grandparents are praying for my salvation every day.  So at the very least they should at least be expecting me.

Number 4:
There shall be no pussyfooting around issues.  Bad things are going to happen.  That's the point.  I crave challenge.  I desire danger.  I am pleased with problems.  And I adore alliteration.  If I wanted to remain safe and sound, I would never left my ninth story office.  With its glorious window view of the National Mall.

Seriously look at that view!  The peasants looked like ants.

Number 5:
Don't take anything I say very seriously.  I surely won't.

Number 6:
Since this amounts to what is essentially a disclaimer, I should go on to mention the following:  None of the views expressed in this blog represent that of either the Peace Corps or the United States Government.  The views are mine and mine alone.  In fact, they probably aren't even mine.  More like they are the opinions I want you to think I have.  Yea, ponder that for a moment.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Great Wahl of Mali has fallen.

Well shit.

For those of you not on the up and up with news of the political climate in Mali--and let's be honest, most of you couldn't point to it on a map before hearing that I was going there--the government has fallen.  Actually it fell awhile ago to a military coup.  Apparently the military was unhappy with the way the old dogs were handling the rebellion going on in the north (yes, there has been a rebellion going on for awhile too; the Peace Corps were pretty much fine with that).  They took power for themselves and promised to give it back whenever they solved the whole crisis in the Saharan.  Naturally, the rebels took the opportunity to do some remodeling and housing expansion.

The Peace Corps has done a lovely job of keeping me informed, at least post decision to withdraw.  Their main concern has been the 160 volunteers on the ground in Mali for the past couple weeks.  I'll allow it.  There has been no real fear of violence after the first day or so of the coup and no shooting since outside of the no travel zones far in the north.  Well away from where the Peace Corps operates; they stay clear of any conflict areas.  While there is no conflict in the south, the Peace Corps has decided that, since the political situation is so unstable, they will be pulling out.

Blah, blah, blah politics per usual in Africa.  What does this mean for the one you care most about?  Well, for starters, congratulations are in order for a sufficiently vague blog title!  I liked to tell myself it was elegant in its simplicity.  Now it is just damn practical.  The Peace Corps is committed to reassigning me elsewhere.  I probably won't be doing water sanitation work as it sounds like they don't have any more openings in that area for the time being.  The real downside to all of this (aside from some ill-purchased books on the culture and history of Mali) is that I won't be leaving until sometime in September.

Any ideas on some summer work?

Will keep you all posted with any tantalizing details as soon as I hear 'em.


Dale out.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Adieu DC.

I usually deal with goodbyes by ignoring them.  Completely if possible.  My go to line is something like: "This isn't goodbye; I'll swing by one last time before I'm off."  Sometimes it's true, sometimes it isn't.  Regardless, it does a fine job of dodging the mushy hugs and teary eyes.  Of which everyone must face when confronted with a life without yours truly.

Though, if there is anything good to say about goodbyes, it is that they really clarify what's important in your life.  The last month or so in DC has done a lot of that for me.  I met a lot of important people while over the last few years and I just wanted to thank them for the good times.

Everyone at work was more than spectacular.  I was really taken aback by how everyone reacted to my decision to jump ship.  Hell, I half wondered if all their praise and admiration for the journey were really just escaped joy at getting rid of me.  My boss Ricky must have clarified a hundred times that I was in fact a valued employee and going to be a loss to the team.  Instead of just saying he thinks this little adventure will be awesome.  I was really surprised that Carmen, my customer, and her team wanted to take me out to lunch.  I knew my work was appreciated/worshiped, but it was incredibly heartwarming for them to go the extra mile.  The same has to be said of JMA Solutions.  I've always enjoyed the many chats and discussions I've had with Jan and Ronnette.  They simply run a great team of people who will all be missed.  In fact, if anything can be said of my team at Allied Tech and the group at JMA, it is that they take care of their own.  A bit like family.  Particularly the one who, like my mother, is always trying to marry me off; you know who you are.  Anyway, thanks to you all and keep in touch.

That way I can use you all as contacts when I'm job hunting in the future.

To the rest of my chums in DC, hats off to you.  I'm going to have to go on a cleansing prior to departure if I'm to survive.  The number of people who demanded a last night of dinner and drinks have made me fat and happy.  They may also be the cause of my suffering from what appears to be withdrawal.  Pete and Johno, you guys threw me one hell of a going away bash.  And everyone who showed up chipped in; whether it was with cake, a pinata, or my favorite brews (though I might shouldn't have started with dark and stormys), it was quite the time.  Obviously, five rounds of trivia based on my life can't be topped.  Even if it is slightly disturbing to have so much knowledge about me collected in one place.  My man of mystery persona might be damaged a bit, but the ego boost was well worth it.

Seriously though, thanks to you all.  And I did mean it when I said I'd try to get back up there before I disappear.  If only because Mike promised me a day on the boat.  And I'm not the sort of man to turn down the opportunity of drinking bloody caesars while floating on the water.