I spent Christmas Eve and day in Bandiagara, some 65 kilometers outside Mopti, in Mali’s eastern pocket. I was stuck somewhere between wanting to Christmas (ahem, I verbed that word) and wanting to avoid it altogether. Regardless, the night sky insisted I be at least grateful for family, friends, and good fortune, even if I felt momentarily far from all three.
I recently read a few words on the magic of Christmas Eve, beyond religion, and this was the spirit I kept with me through the chilly night and the frosty beers.
In the morning (well, more like lunchtime) the eating options in Bandiagara were scarce. All the brochette ladies were sold out; no one’s rice had come in yet. In the Christmas spirit of hasty mangers and serendipity, we made do at a small boutique with a front porch and a picnic table.
Fresh baguette, omelette for 3, and the kind of fried, canned meat whose mystery should remain just that. Actually, this was some sort of pressed chicken, although the Malians in my company insisted that all meat sold in a similar can is known as corned beef. More precisely corn-ed a-beef.
May Allah bless you with many cans of spam.
Happy belated Christmas, 2014.