Thursday, November 29, 2007


I just changed the setting of this blog to allow you to post comments without moderation, I've been writing for a few months now and I haven't gotten anything weird and I know that it can be difficult to try to post a comment and not see it up or any indication that it was posted for a month or more, anyway now all you comments will go on, BUT if I do start getting spammed I will go back to comment moderation.

Becoming a Statistic

So the mystery topic.
November 2nd, right around when Erin was letting us know she was leaving I was finding out that about 60,000 CFA (120 USD) was missing from my money envelope. As you have read I recently had a massive flood so since I had moved almost every possession I have to a new location I legitimately thought that I probably lost the money. I mean its not like i didn't lose all kinds of paper work only find it drying in random places around the house later. Then on November 10th I found out that of the 30,000 CFA I had left there was only 6,000. So I definately had a theif, someone coming into my house twice (at least) to take things of mine, they would have had to search, they would have had to watch me and learn my schedule when I was out of the house but not far enough away from the house to have locked the doors. Not at all a pleasant thought, and really not at all pleasant to deal with.
I went up to NAti and filled out my incident report, and talked to my PCVL. I also went to the bank and got money. Ended up talking to the Gendarmes and the Peace Corps, of course the money is not likely to be recovered, but its not tres grave. I think it would be hard for me to describe in writing, in a crowded cyber, how I felt about it then, but now things are well, my community has been really supportive of me, and of course shocked and outraged, but things are honestly going much better now, and Like I sazid the more distance (in terms of time) I get the better I feel about the whole thing.
Thanks to all the wonderful people who support me!

Friday, November 23, 2007

things are a bit behind

I kept meaning to write up a post about (you know what.. or hopefully you don't) but I'm just not able to write something that covers both the feelings ON THE DAY and the distance and ca va maintenant, Thanks giving this weekend and PSW in Parakou as of sunday. I'll keep trying for the blog post, or two or three, and considering the access to internet should be ok in Parakou maybe I'll even get them online.
LOVE to all

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The not so happy post about Erin.

So while I was off meeting buses full of white people Erin was in Cotonou in the med unit and at first it didn’t seem so bad until it was 2 weeks she’d been there and why weren’t they letting her come back? The answer, Erin is being medically separated from peace corps…. This is not happy news, and I don’t think anyone leaving is happy news but for me this is the first person to go home that I REALLY know, and that is in fact a very good friend. We’re not just losing the fantastically convient hub her house made in Djougou but really we’re losing just a friend, and I really really really wish she didn’t have to go, and it doesn’t seem fair, or right, or anything, but there isn’t anything that we can do. She has to take care of her injury and she has to do that at home. So Erin, its not the same without you in Djougou just a 20 minutes bush taxi ride of doom away, and I expect that I’ll spend the next 2 years, wishing you were still there even if I do at some point get used to going all the way to Kate’s place (an hour + Zemi ride of doom away) Seeing as she’ll be getting home probably before I get this up on the internet, Erin I miss you SO MUCH! And I hope that you don’t forget to eat the ice cream for me. (p.s. the mattress is awesome).

Two weeks straight no visits

So this is where I talk about how I spent two weeks straight at post without going anywhere and what my weekend was like after the big rain storm. On Saturday I went to a fellow teacher’s place she had promised me that she would take the day to teach me how to use the African yams, which are a main staple of the northern diet and provide a nice variation to pasta and rice which are pretty much my other options. I arrived at 11 which was the prearranged time but was of course to early because when a Beninese person says 11 what they mean is sometime after 11 more like 12 but being there early allowed them to show me the boarding buildings. CEG Copargo has a small group of boarding students and these particular teachers I was visiting are like the dorm parents. They showed me the girls side of the compound and I even got to see one of the sleeping rooms which was basically a concrete room with some cubby holes and mats rolled up against the wall, when I asked how many girls to a room the said 5 but this year they had a large number so sometimes 6… Considering my boarding experience of a single room with a sink, desk, and bed this seemed… cramped. But the rooms where clean and bug free and the girls and boys all seem to like the area so there you have it. They also took me to the Catholic Mission where I met Father Michel the French priest in residence, let me tell you I was not expecting to meet a white person, and I don’t think he was particularly expecting the visit of a white person either, but he seems nice enough, and I figure that as long as he is cool with me not being a christen then we’ll get along just fine, although his French is considerably harder for me to understand than the beninese French. The yam cooking commenced shortly after this visit and let me tell you, this is a lesson they should give to every volunteer that is moving north. Now most volunteers will say that they can just buy the yams already cooked, and why bother with buying them and cooking them themselves, but I really think its useful, particularly if you like to cook for yourself. The African yam is a HUGE root veggie, and when you first see one you’ll probably be a little frightened that you are ever expected to eat that. I learned that you can cut off a piece to use and leave the rest, that it will keep for a very long time. I learned that you can boil them, fry them, and pile them. I also learned that people will feed me loads and often its not things I should be eating, there was definitely unfried wagasi on the table and chicken which since I’m a vegetarian was not something I was excited about, but I suppose I’m happy it was chicken and not fish. Aside from the less appetizeing aspects of the meal it was delicious and I learned a very good lesson on how to prepare a yam. Of course the lesson doesn't end there! When I went to marche to buy yams I ended up with 6! Suffice it to say I don’t think I’ll be buying yams for a few weeks at least.
Now you might think that the weekend is over but its not. There is in fact more. The next day, Sunday I decided to get off my lazy ass and go for a bike ride get to see some of the country side, and so I went off on my bike in the direction of Taneka, 7 k away, My plan was to go for an hour bike ride so I’d go out for 30 mins and then come back in, wherever that got was where I was going but, 15 mintues into the bike ride, at Taneka I ran into a bus, which was really suprising! A BUS! But not just any bus, a bus full of white people! I mean what on earth was a bus full of white people doing on a backroad out to taneka in the north of Benin, but it gets better. I assumed as I do with most white people I see in this country that they were French, and so was planning on continuing on my way, but they stopped me. In English! A bus full of American white people! Who were so full of questions what was I doing where there any other aid programs in the area, was I really living this way minus running water and all?
"You must have running water?"
"No I get my water from a well."
"a WELL!" (you can i'm sure imagine the tax payers outrage)
"is it safe to drink? you must have tablets you add?"
"I filter it, and then boil it"
"thats alot of work for a glass of water"
"You have no idea..."
So instead of biking out the other 15 minutes I spent about 25 being drilled by American tourists. All the while a little dazed at finding the tourists where I did. Really really weird.

The Rain Storm and why you should always close the windows

This Friday, the 26th of October was not an awesome day. It basically started with my only Friday class which was not horrible, but also not great. Anyway I thought the day would be mediocre at best seeing as what I really wanted to be doing was going to Bajoudai for the whipping fete and instead I was in Copargo, waiting for the first teacher’s meeting. Which was to say the leas,t horrible, uncomfortable desk seats for 3 hours, and I really just can’t pay attention for that along especially when everything is in French. I kept focus until they had one of the teachers read a four page document all the way through, then I lost my focus and honestly didn’t understand a single word after that. Then when I thought I was blessedly free of the meeting they told me that now we had to go to the buvette… so off we all go to the buvette while I’m explaining that while I’m not a muslim I also still don’t drink. This confounded them. It started to rain as we got to the buvette and within 5 minutes it was a down pour, all out thunder lightening, power outage, wind whipping storm, that lasted for 45 minutes before it let up enough for me to feel safe biking home. Meanwhile I was happily thinking during the mostly silent buvette trip well at least my buckets which I left outside will be full… only to get home to one of the girls in my concession saying I had forgotten to close my windows. My heart just dropped, at first when I walked in I thought it wouldn’t be so bad, the floor in the salon seemed mostly dry and the study didn’t look too bad, but then I went into my bedroom where I had a small lake, at least a half an inch of water, on the floor and almost everything I own was wet, including my ipod and my laptop. I can’t even begin to tell you, I pretty much just sat there too tired to even cry for the horrible day just made absolutely and completely awful. So this was about 8 pm and tiredly started mopping up the water using rags a dust pan and my broom. I spread things out to let them dry and closed all the windows, by the time I had mopped up all the standing water I had 2/3 of a bucket full of water, I finished by setting my fan to blow at the floor for the night and by 10 was finally able to start cooking dinner. I feel the need at this point to thank my dad who through his effortless sense of humor managed to get my mind off how completely distressed I was by the fact that my laptop and my ipod could very well be broken and never work again and that many of my papers and photos were destroyed. So I got to bed completely exhausted just around eleven telling myself that things would be dry and look better in the morning.
They did, the floor except for a few resistant patches was totally dry, most of the paper, a bit crinkled and with slightly runny ink are dry and legible. The ipod and the laptop are turning on and functioning without glitches. I couldn’t ask more considering the extent of the disaster.
Lesson learned.