Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas and the falls

So I think I said that I was planning on spending Christmas at post, anyway I did infact decide agaisnt that, a bit last minute as well. Christmas here in Nati was really nice, Megan (cobly), Kate, Carly, Alex, Jordan, Natasha, Rima, Suny, and Danielle were the PSL 20s there, and then we had a couple psl 19s. Its was basically a massive feast of cheese and crackers, fries and sauce, sangria for the wine drinkers, and sodas or beer for the rest, cookies etc. We played loads of scrable and boggle, and hung out.
Megan and Kate even managed to organize a little christmas suprise for everyone, stockings with some candy and tastey treats. While it is not a holiday I am particularly attached to it was really nice.
So following christmas eve and Christmas the TEFL 8 of us decided to go up to the water falls. The taxi drive was long and very dusty, and while I was lucky enough to be in the front of the van the poor folks in the back got really dusted, I think carly and Alex, might still be feeling like they're breathing dirt the day after! We arrived at the falls and started our walk up, the first fall we got to was pretty, but small and we were all thinking 'is this it?' but we quickly discovered that a short climb/hike up the hill was the REAL water fall, tall and cascading into a massive pool of water at the bottom, and with all the moisture being kicked up the whole enclosure was green and beautiful, We had a bit to eat and then immediately got into the COLD water. You'll probably be happy to hear none of us jumped from the top although I'm hoping some of you can appericiate how tempting it was to try to climb up there and leap off it looked like it would have been awesome. We swam for at least an hour then sliced up watermelon to eat while we dried off a bit and warmed up. Even getting dusted again on the way home didn't ruin the fantastic view and beauty of these falls. A definate must see to parents planning on visiting. Hopefully Rima can get some pictures up when she gets back down south so we can show you how lovely it was.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tabaski (pretty sure I spelled that wrong)

There was considerable confusion about the muslim fete this year, and for all I know maybe there is every year. No one seemed to know what day it was going to take place on, the school was taking Thursday off, but there was a possibility that the fete would be Tuesday or Wednesday not Thursday. In fact right up to the wire this debate raged, the Fete did end up starting Wednesday.
The lead up to the fete is relatively boring in its own way, one day I noticed a significantly larger number of sheep in town than usual, sheep in herds that is, then one day I noticed a significantly larger number of sheep in bush taxis than usual. Then one day I noticed a sheep in my concession. A real looker too, he was big and had a nice set of horns, nice thick coat, lot of greens to munch on, and glaring at me like there was no tomorrow.
Tuesday at school, the teachers made it known that indeed Wednesday had been declared the fete day, and while technically there would be class, there probably wouldn't be students. How right they were, my class Wed. had 5 students... 5 out of 71.... the class itslf went quickly µI gave them candy and we played hangman and sang jingle bells.
On the way home is when things got exciting, every other house I passed had a sheep being slaughtered in the front yard, which was just great, here I am a vegitarian who doesn't like looking at dead animals and I get to see about 10 or 12 dead or dying sheep in the span of 5 minutes, one in my very own concession. I ended up hiding in my house for about and hour or so hoping that evenutally the carcass would be removed for cooking purposes. It was although I had to request that the severed head be stored somewhere other than the basin in front of my house. So once the death was finished I did in fact join in the fete a bit. I had my feet painted red (it turned out orange) they wrote my name on my feet that is, they gave me plain rice without mutton which was very tastey and i spent the afternoon sitting under a small mango tree in my concession feeling very happy with the fete, that night I also got some yam pilé from my mama making it a very nice day full of good food.
Now on to christmas, which I also plan to spend at post.

The revenge of the cough

Anyone who knows me knows that in general, I don't get sick, or more specifically, I don't get colds, haven't infact been sick enough to miss a day of school or work since I was 16 or 17, which is why its not even funny, that in a country where 'cold' is anything below 85 degrees I seem to have finally gotten sick. And not like a little snifle, it started out as a little snifle, but its now turned into and ongoing battle to breath! For four weeks I have been spending my time swapping between blowing my nose and coughing up my lungs, well there is a bit more coughing than anything else. The even worse thing is there doesn't seem to be anything I can DO about it! nothing seems to qwell this, cough drops do nothing, tea, honey, allergy meds, nothing helps! its just ongoing, sometimes I think that its a combination of my asthma, which has not troubled me since I was a little kid and all the dirt in the air being kicked around by harmatan, but even that doesn't seem to add up. In any case I'm only marginally comforted by the fact that I am not the only one who is ill, there are quite a few students in my classes who are also coughing and hacking etc.. So there is no way to make this particular post anything but a pity party but, when writing about life in Benin, right now a huge part of my life is having a constant supply of cough drops.