Mali, February 17, 2005
Yep, its here, there, everywhere, even in your eyes
Dust. Rust red dust. From microscopic airborne particles that collect on every flat surface or in your lungs to big sand granules that amass in every un-swept corner of Mali, dust is everywhere here. It's in my laptop keyboard, on my clothes, and behind my teeth. |
The dust comes in every open window, and since electricity is 20x more expensive than in the USA, there are a lot of open windows in Mali. All those windows, all that dust, and nothing gets or stays clean. Say you wash your clothes. By the time they air dry, a light orange coat of dust will coat them. Say you clean a desk to work for the day. By the time you break for beer, a light orange cost of dust will be on everything exposed to the air.
For a clean-freak like me, Mali is pure hell. Even worse than beating back the Gobi, and on par with Cambodia, here I am in a constant battle with Mali to keep clean. I've remembered a few of the travelers tricks like wearing the same item several days in a row, and downgrading cloths to less clean tasks each day or moving slow and watching for dusty chairs. Still, you can't go Japanese and take your shoes off at the door - the floor will already have a fine coating of dust that landed seconds after the floor was mopped.
For my Mom, who always complains about the dust from the dirt road she lives on in Vero Beach, Mali would drive her insane. Here there is no way to keep a place clean, or no way to do it with any level of comfort. Air conditioning and hermetically sealed building would be the only way, and the cost of something like that here, if Malians could even build to that level of detail, would be ridiculously expensive to build and bankruptingly expensive to cool. Then, of course, you'd have to go outside, and the dust would be waiting.
It seems to especially love computers, with a personal want to get into the back recesses of laptops and servers. Oh woe to the person who tries to run high-end hardware in Mali - they will only have six months, if that, to work before the dust destroys. And destroy it will. In Mali, the dust is everywhere.