Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a great holiday. We had a lot of fun. We went to a fancy hotel in town and paid to swim in their pool. Yes, it's that hot here, even in December. Andrew spent most of the day making homemade mozzarella for our baked ziti dinner, which was awesome. For those of you who haven't already, check out Barbara Kingsolver's new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's all about her family trying to live of their land for an entire year. Pretty cool. She goes to a cheese-making class by Ricki Carroll, and so we bought a starter kit and the book and have been having a blast. So far we've made pizza and ricotta cheesecake. Yum!
Natalie and Andrew show off their mozarella
This Christmas was both better and worse than last year. It was worse because I missed home so much more, and it made me sad that my parents and grandmother didn't spend the holiday together like they did last year. It was better because of the company we kept here. We spent the holiday with the two new married couples in our area, Mark and Sam and Steve and Natalie. The dynamic between us three couples is pretty great. We all get along extremely well, which is heartening considering there has been a lot of tension lately between the Kayes region volunteers. Without going into too many details, let me just repeat what a non-PC couple (who live in Mali) said about us when they came to visit this week: "You guys should have your own TV show, like The Real World!" Oh, the drama.
Mark, Steve, and Luis in the hats I knit them
This week is also the Biennial Celebration of Mali, and it's being held right here in Kayes! It's a ten day long celebration with lots of music, dancing, and artisan fairs. Tuesday is the closing ceremony and there are rumors that the president of Mali will be there. There's also a rumor that if we ask, he will take a photo with us because he isn't allowed to say no to Peace Corps volunteers. So maybe I'll meet the president! At the very least, I'll get to see him from afar.
Dancers at celebration
Andrew's parents will be here in only three weeks, and we're both really excited but not quite ready for their visit. We've been trying to make our yard and house look as nice as possible, but there's so much to do! We need to have our well re-dug (it collapsed at the bottom), our straw hangar re-done (the wind has all but ripped it off), and our chicken area fenced off. Oh yeah, we need to buy some chickens, too! We just finished the construction of our chicken house, we're just lacking its inhabitants. We're tired of making do with goat and sheep meat and not having any eggs for breakfast, so we've taken matters into our own hands. We're a little worried about our cat's response to the chickens…
So what's happening in the real world? Send us a brief update and tell us about your life. New job, new apartment, new partner? Where is everybody??