Posts Tagged ‘cannabis’

Bon soir internet!

So it’s been six (almost seven!) months since I packed up and moved across the world into the heart of darkness and so far it’s literally been sunny every day. During the rainy season it can be gray for a while and sometimes the dust paints everything beige but the sun always comes out eventually. Why do I feel like there’s a message in there somewhere?

Mali has been surreal. I still can’t believe I’m here, or that I’m starting to understand French, or that I’m finding my own work, or that my niece is a year! (WTF?!?!) The river of life really has some massive bends. Learning a new language is coming along great, or well enough at least for me to understand the basics of most of the everyday French conversations I find myself around. I’ve even started picking up some Bambara! Doni doni. All it takes is a little focus really. I used to be apprehensive about learning new languages but now I think it has finally turned from frightening to fun. It has definitely been challenging but I am doing my best to embrace the privilege of learning. Teaching is one Hell of a learning experience, go figure. English is in high demand in this francophone country, and a native speaker definitely helps meet that. In fact the demand is so high I’ve now had to turn down clients in order to have adequate time to prepare for the students I already have. And aside from working with government and non-governmental organizations galore, teaching preschoolers has been (and remains) especially humbling. Between teaching preschoolers, government employees, and locals to other teachers and their children, I am getting quite the crash course in teaching students of all ages, levels and backgrounds. It makes me wonder what else I can do that I may have never considered before.

Come to think of it, this whole adventure has been one Hell of a learning experience. Every day I drive down the road and wonder what else someone will somehow be carrying on a scooter, or “moto” as they’re called in Bamako. Goat, dresser, art, family, you name it. I’m surprised I haven’t seen someone carrying another moto on one of those things yet (although I have seen someone on the back of one dragging a bicycle behind them, and a moto on top of a car). Malians are impressive. They really work their asses off. Everyone I’ve met and seen seems to be doing everything they can to make as much money as possible. Considering how hot it gets here alone I’m inspired! Their efforts can be misguided sometimes, like the children selling water and really any portable thing you can think of on the street corners and roadsides from infancy instead of going to school. But the people here really look like they do their best to get ahead, even if it takes years of backbreaking work. Bamako is filled with strong people. I’m glad to be able to help in what few ways I can. Petit a petit I suppose. There are a tragic number of people simply begging as well, though those seem to mostly be men and boys. Malian women are especially impressive. I have yet to see a Malian woman just relaxing. Men on the other hand, like most men I know (myself included) seem to take every chance they get.

I’m learning a lot about Africa in general talking to all my local and professional students. African people and the African spirit amaze me more and more every day. Check out these few examples real fast and tell me you’re not impressed.

http://www.myafricanow.com/a-house-made-of-plastic-bottles-nigeria/

Isn’t that all awesome? I’m learning so much from all the people here. Not to mention that I live with an investment banker with a bleeding heart. Six months with my father has been eye-opening to say the least. I’m extremely grateful to have been given the privilege of a lot of his insight on poverty, corruption, bureaucracies, development, organizational finance and management, etc. So much so that I’ve even considered taking a couple years in the future to go for an MBA. It doesn’t look as dry/confusing/useless as it has in the past. I might be able to see myself buckling down and learning the inner workings of the capitalist process, if only to learn exactly what we’re all up against. That is of course If I could somehow manage to get my hands on one of these mysterious “scholarships” everyone keeps talking about. From my experience though they seem only to exist in fairy tales…

Speaking of fairy tales – the war in the North has turned a corner now that suspected militants have attacked civilians in Bamako, the capital. Last week a popular bar was the stage for an attack of some sort using machine guns and grenades, which I believe marks the first attack of that kind within the Bamako city limits in years. Word on the street is they were looking for caucasians and though two were caught, the organization that claimed responsibility is currently still out there so Dad and I are… honestly not changing our behavior very much. We stay in a lot anyway but I guess now we will buy a few more munchies at the supermarket. Like pops said, he doesn’t get danger pay for nothing. The world is a real place and rocks hurt so you’ve got to be ready for it no matter where you live.

Six months in and I must say I am actually fairly impressed with myself. Every day I work on something personal besides my job, and after six months I’m starting to build up some nice new habits to be slave to. Though that’s not to say I’m not also impressed by my ability to make enough money to actually contribute to gas and groceries. No such thing as a free lunch. I’ve begun meditating and exercising semi-regularly and I can already feel the difference. Little by little much gets done. As much as I love to sit around and do nothing I’ve already made a bit of a name for myself in the city as a solid English teacher and tutor, even building up referrals from clients for more work. Plus I’ve learned a fair amount of one new language and have begun to understand the basics of another. I’ve learned and am learning firsthand about our global system of international development from someone who has basically the same thoughts I do on the matter, only way more developed. Not to mention I’ve reached a new level in my grasp of international politics and news, including keeping up with the political and legislative landscape within the States, which really makes me feel like a grown up haha.

It’s especially exciting to look back home and see the cascade of drug law reform legislation that I sacrificed many good grades in college trying to build a culture for starting to pick up speed. A tear comes to my eye just thinking that as I write this cannabis has been legalized in Washington D.C., the place where five or six years ago people were laughing at me for suggesting it could actually change within our lifetimes. “You’re wasting your time,” “get a real cause,” “worry about something you can change,” I heard (when it wasn’t just laughter) for four long years while peoples’ lives were thrown away into prisons and caskets for feeding an addiction or starting the wrong kind of entrepreneurial enterprise or just struggling to eat something after chemotherapy. It’s just so satisfying to hear silence where there once was doubt.

So much amazing work is being done all around the world that I am inspired to get to work on my own contributions as fast and as hard as possible. By my birthday I want to have all my poetry (which looks like about 60 pieces) in one place so I can finally arrange it all and maybe even have enough good ones for a collection. After that I’ll be able to get back to the novel I’m working on and a possible collection of short stories. One day my musical equipment will arrive and I will jump back into the music game. Until then I’m also teaching myself how to… well… teach!

Speaking of my birthday, it looks like my birthday this year is on Easter, which is cool I guess. More importantly it’s on a Sunday! That means no work on my birthday which is all I really want. I’ll still spend the day working, just not at my job. It will be into the hot season by April so I’m really just gonna try to survive. It won’t be the hottest yet but I imagine it’ll be like “the wall” at Philmont. The wall is a few miles of gnarly switchbacks up the side of a mountain. “How do we know when we’ve reached the wall?” “Once you feel like you can’t go any further, then you’ve reached the wall.” It’s okay though. I’ve forgotten the pain. The view at the top however, I’ll never forget.

Onward and upward,
Z

Ok, team. Huddle.

This marks one week ’til my flight departs to Bamako and I couldn’t be more excited!  My trip has already been postponed a few weeks but now it’s really coming around the corner.  Now that I have finally upgraded my ESL certification from 60 to 100 hours, my preparations have just about come together.  Now it comes down to packing the rest of my random trinkets into my carry-on bags and meeting up one last time with all my favorite people.  At this point, there’s nothing but excitement flowing through my veins!

As my departure creeps into focus, I am excited for so much!  On my end of the stick, I’ll be starting a new adventure in a new place, which is destined to be awesome (in its original sense), of that I have no doubt.  However on the other end, back home in the States, excitement lies on the horizon as well!  October and November will bring new laws into play and others to be voted on that will no doubt have a profound effect.  New regulations regarding previously illicit substances as new medicines are on the rise!  American people and money will be saved by the boatload!  Successes will be reported, analyzed, and repeated!  ENTIRE INDUSTRIES ARE BEING BORN!  If you are not excited for this time we find ourselves in, you’re not paying attention.

The cannabis movement is of course at the forefront of this new wave of alternative medicines being (re)introduced into the mainstream.  Now that people know how successfully Colorado has handled this change we will start to see the dominoes fall.  Thanks to people like my good friend Mr. Kander, with his 150 page comprehensive report on the cannabis extract movement (www.cannabisextractreport.com), people are starting to fight, treat, and CURE all different types of diseases and ailments, including cancer and diabetes!  I’m not saying cannabis is the answer.  All I’m saying is that there is enough evidence out there to warrant doing research of your own if you are interested or concerned.

Now that the medical cannabis movement has begun to take off there is even more research being done on even more alternative medicines, like LSD and it’s effects on addiction, Psilocybin and it’s effects on depression and coping with terminal illness, and MDMA and it’s profound effects treating PTSD.  The ball is rolling, people!  The alternative medicine movements have been revitalized and anyone who opposes it is doomed to be crushed under the bulldozer of this entire new alternative medicine industry.  Get in on the ground level now people, this will change every industry from medicine to textiles to energy.

The time has come to strip away the blinders strapped to our faces by big pharmaceuticals and the health insurance industry and take our health back into our own hands.  Fresh grown, GMO-free gardens and dumpster diving are reminding people that food is, in fact dirty, and that that’s okay!  People are beginning to see that the only difference between drug dealers and doctors are their levels of support from the state.  People are starting to see that the answer may not simply come in a pill, and that cannabis might not actually be as dangerous as heroin.  In addition, we are already feeling the effects of public welfare cuts from last winter (<http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/cuts-food-stamps-hit-states-25557899&gt;).  Those walking the line between survival and starvation are beginning to hurt.  Soon we will see more people reach for opportunities like crime to feed their families.  However, with the rise of dumpster divers, food co-ops and community gardens, people are also reaching for new ways to help each other.

Winter is coming, and with it will no doubt come even more pain for a great many, but there is much being done out there to keep our communities together. These invisible knights are out there fighting for us all, and you can bet I’ll be watching from my little desert across the seas. 😉

Onward and upward.
-Z