A certain Pigeon Eater nominated me to reflect on my writings as part of the 7 Links Project. The idea: dig around in the attic of your blog and dust off a few posts that deserve a second look. Or a first look, as the case may be for many of my earlier posts, written when this blog was mostly visited by a handful of family and friends.
Some months ago, I made a concerted effort to build an audience for this site. I’ve mostly abandoned that effort, in part because I simply haven’t had the time. In any case, I appreciate my readership, and despite its limited size, I feel like I am accomplishing my goals with this blog: build a living portfolio/resume of writing and media, and connect with interesting people.
It’s because of this blog that I connected with Rizwan Tayabli, who inspired me to take camel drawing to the next level. It’s because of this blog that I met Sunny, who joined me on the 40 hour bus from Dakar to Bamako and spent time with me in Bamako. Between this blog and twitter, I have made new friends and discovered new interests.
PS – If you are on twitter, find me at @philinthe_. If you’re not, I suggest you start using it. I follow a little over 400 people on twitter. Among them, a “playgroundologist” in Canada (@playgroundology), Malian villagers (@YCoulibaly) who are on the net because of Boukary Konate (@fasokan), who I met in real life because of twitter and later interviewed for how to draw camels here, and a female pilot in Kenya (@AviatrixMemoirs) who has been working with @KirAfrique to organize Africa’s female aviators. On Friday, I had drinks with former NY Times writer and current Columbia Grad Journalism Professor Howard French (@hofrench), who was in Bamako working on a new book about the Chinese in Africa. I didn’t see Howard’s tweet announcing his Bamako travel plans, but Matt Jones (@moved2monrovia), who runs the awesome blog Moved to Monrovia, sent me a message. All of this is to say: you should use twitter.
I can also thank this blog for a number of freelance writing opportunities, and I will undoubtedly cite it the next time I’m trying to get an actual job.
Ok, about those 7 posts…
OH, one last thing. Make sure to check out Liv’s 7 links post as well. Her writing is brilliant and the 7 links post is a great introduction to her site.
Most Beautiful Post – If you Need Nobody, Nobody Needs you
What I believe is a very important revelation about Malian culture
Most Popular Post – 9 Things you May or May not Know about Africa
As of today, it has been viewed 6,243 times
Most Controversial Post – Why are you Traveling in West Africa?
Somewhat judgmental post written as a reaction to travelers I have come across in West Africa
Most Helpful Post – How to get a Cheap Plane Ticket from the US to Africa
Title should read cheaper as cheap is not really possible. Tips also apply to itineraries beyond US>Africa.
A Post Whose Success Surprised Me – How to Draw Camels Ebook
I didn’t know if the world was ready for a big idea like this. Turns out, it was.
A Post I Felt Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved – The Live Music Capital of West Africa
A recent post, but not many people read it
The Post That I Am Most Proud Of – Blog for Cote d’Ivoire
My attempt to get the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire out to a wider audience
Now, my turn to pass the baton to 5 others:
I am in Dakar. The riots from a week and a half ago have disappeared and aside from some anti-Wade graffiti, you can’t tell anything had happened. If you didn’t hear about it, Senegal’s president, Abdoulaye Wade, proposed a change to the constitution that would have allowed him to win next year’s elections with only 25% of the vote. His plan backfired enormously. Thousands of people took to the streets and Wade backed down. He has been in power since 2000 and he is 85 years old. Might be time to give it a rest. His proposed amendment coincided with a particularly severe power cut in Dakar that left some houses without power for more than 30 hours. Electricity in Senegal is produced by a state-run company, Senelec, and power cuts have been an ongoing problem. As I write this, the wi-fi at my hostel is being powered by solar panels. Most businesses have caged generators in front of them. Today, the power has been cut for 6 hours and counting. Bamako is by almost all counts much less developed than Dakar, but Bamako has far fewer power cuts and most of them only last a few minutes.
I am tired. The bus trip from Bamako was 35 hours (5 hours less than first journey-progress). More generally, the last couple of months have been exhausting. I don’t have a job in the traditional sense, but I have been working. A lot. Part of my income comes from freelance writing (some travel writing and some soulless writing for places like demandstudios.com). In addition to writing, I was spending a lot of time visiting projects for howtodrawcamels.com. I don’t make money with that site, but it was more or less a full time job (many posts on the way summarizing my experiences of the various projects I visited). Despite these time intensive commitments, I was still able to have a social life in Bamako, see a lot of music, and become conversational in Bambara. How? I slept less.
Part 2 of my trip home involves a handful of flights, starting with Dakar to Madrid tonight. If all goes to plan, I will be in DC sometime on Thursday.