Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ode to Secret Clinical Strength

I'd like to take a minute to sing the praises of the wonder that is Secret Clincal Strength Deoderant. That stuff is AMAZING. I mean, really...every single inch of your body can be sweating profusely but your arms are good to go. If I come back for a visit next year I would consider filling a suitcase with it for the return trip so I could slather it on all over...haha...that might not be a good idea though.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes...i am DEFINTELY feeling better though we have a few people in the med Unit right now with amoebas and what i had seems to have gone around for a lmot of trainees. Glad thats over...for now. So the pictures at the cyber are not working out (sorry U. mike...and A. Annie...i know YOU would have wanted to see the spider picture too, wink wink) and I have to find another way to get some up...maybe when I get back to headquarters. We went to the marché today to do some price checking as a group and that was a really interesting experience. I had already gone a few time but not really gotten to see some of the stuff I saw today--it is a BIG marché. So we went over to the meat section and saw this big slab of meat hanging from a hook (it smells really bad there) and all of a sudden i notice on the floor next to me half in half out of this big metal bowl is the entire skin in one giant piece of the cow that is hanging up...It's hooves were attached and everything. I honestly have never seen ANYthing like it and it turned my stomach a little to see it. I mean the meat looked okay but seeing that was just unexpected. The vendor had his money sitting out on a pile of intestines which really makes me wonder about how dirty the money that i have is. The piles and piles of chickens sitting out in the marche are interesting too. They are all so sad looking and tied together. I don't feel THAT bad about the chickens though...they are the most delicious thing in Benin so far. If i eat any more unidentified fish pulled from a dirty river I might freak out...but sundays chez moi so far appears to be chicken day and it is the most delicious day of the week. I don't know how Ill be able to keep that up at post because you cant really buy and store chicken without a fridge. Its expenisive in supermarchés to buy chicken like how we have it in the US and to buy a chicken in the market and have them kill it for you means you have to eat the thing that day pretty much. Plus there ARE no supermarchés in Dogbo because they are so a yovo thing and are mostly in the big cities. I guess I will find out. They also have little puppies and kittens in the marché for a little over 1,000CFA and I definitely plan on getting a kitten--they are good for eating lizards and bugs in your house and I would be saving it from being dinner since they eat cats,dogs, and bushrat here. I haven't eaten any of that yet...Though i hear that bushrat is actually really good.

My family here actually does have a frig and freezer which is really unusual and they make ice and sell it to people all the time for 25CFA (about 400CFA per US dollar and dropping daily, as you know better than I, I am much is gas in NY now?). And yeah...its pretty normal for us to call our host families "mama" and "papa" and "mama" is a general sign of respect here. Like any volunteer who comes to my house calls my "mama" that and that is how you greet women in the marché too.

This is an entirely random observation that I forgot to mention earlier...belly buttons. Kids belly buttons here are often very deformed and in discussing it with volunteers it seems unsure why, though possibly having to do with innapropriate cutting of the umbilical chord at birth. It seems more common out in au village, but the other day this kid pulled his shirt up and it literally looked like a baseball was attached to his stomach it was so big.

Second random observation: Cement. The value of cement here is really is a huge symbol of status...Like to have a cement floor is pretty amazing. So often times, people will not invest their money in the bank but will instead invest money in cement, buying bags and or bricks of it. THey store it in their yards for when they have enough to build something or add onto their house. THere are so many unfinished buildings here because they start them, money runs out, and then they wait for more to continue. It's really kind of fascinating. On ly tech visit last week before I got sick we drove by the cement factory and the driver of the bus was pointing it out with A LOT of pride and it turns out that it manufactures ALL of the cement for the area and is tres important because of that fact.

C'est tout pour maintenant, je pense. (that's all for now, I think). But i will try to come back some time early next week when there is some stuff to report. There is a bday fete for a trainee on sunday which should be fun. There is also a trainee here who extended her 2 years of service with Peace COrps in Ukraine who just turned 30 so we already had a little partay for her too. Its a nice bit of normalcy every now and then to have it. I am pretty spoiled with internet in Porto Novo, because I will definitely not be able to post this much (probably only 2-3 times a month) when i get to Dogbo. THAT will be interesting.

Im sad about the tums too though I still have some for now...i think I might finally win aganist the ants...sneaky little insects...I devised a plan. I have this little pack of crackers double wrapped in ziplock bags and put in a plastic bag suspended midair from my mosquito net. I'd like to see those ants figure THAT out...though with my luck I'll get home now and there will be ants all over my crackers...(sigh).

I am IMPRESSED by the research A. Loretta. Yes i DID make a wish at the tree, lol. I wish I could get my pics up from Ouidah...I have to figure something out with that. I can't wait to go to Grand Popo.

Hope all is well with you...yeah...Aidan is a saint compared to my little brother here, aunt beth. lol. he just swings open the door and starts slamming it or throws himself on the ground screaming. Sorry the mail was très chère, but I promise I'll appreciate it more than you know (exclamation point), lol. Miss you all a lot and am steadily working on my letter writing.


maman et papa said...

Well I can’t believe it – we are actually the first ones to comment – yea us.

Your information is quite interesting and we are truly fascinated by what you have so far experienced in such a short time. By the time you are through with you’re tour, the wealth of knowledge will far surpass any that we would have.
Looks like Tums will have to be in the next package along with the other items requested. This will also include Tupperware so that those pesky little ants and uncles won’t bother you anymore!!!!!!!
Will be curious to see what type of marcher’s are in Dogbo and what you will be able to get there. It will also be interesting to see how expensive it will be compared to where you are now.
Anyway – keep up the great work. We are all so very proud of you and what you are doing.
Love you

PS – Coby says HI!!!!!!

Aunt Loretta said...

Hey Catherine ~ I was so excited to see yet another update .. even if Maman and Papa beat me to the comment section .... I'll get them next time. When are you going to Grand Popo? Again I did a little research and it looks spectacular. The beach is breath taking. The say there's another little town in Grand Popo called Heve and it's worth visiting. There are two (2) souvenir shops where I hear they have beautiful and unique gifts ... hmmmmm The first is Aux Beaus Arts and the other is Farafina. The wood carvings are suppose to be spectacular too. I expect a full report on the sea turtle conservation area on your next update. Your excursion to the Marche' sounds truly amazing. Porkchop and Beans are so thrilled to hear that they will be getting an Beninese cousin ... although they hope it will be more behaved then your little brother! Glad all is well and you are giving those ants a run for the money. Speaking of money, after your tale, please make sure you use the purell after handling money, okay??? By the way, I just got something so great ... I can't tell you what it is, but I will show it to your Mom and Dad at our annual Labor Day Chowder Feast at Centerport Beach. We'll take pictures and email to you okay! Love and miss you more then you know!

Aunt Loretta

Uncle BigMike said...

Hello kid I was looking forward to the spider Just get one and send it to me and I'll bring it over to aunt If I am not mistaken ants don't like mint and vanilla,because when we had a problem with the little suckers they came and sprayed a mix of the two and it worked for awhile and smelled nice too. There was a tee shirt that said I like cats, I just can't eat a whole one by my self......LOL.... We will send you like I have said before you take care and be safe.Love Uncle Mike

Anonymous said...

Hello Buddy,
All I have to say is I want to send you some purell or something. Ewwww money and raw meat. Yuck! Funny about deodorant, never tried that kind, I think now you're quite the authority on such things! Hehe. Cement, whoa! Not sure I'm going to look at buildings the same way again after that. I'm happy you're feeling better. Koodos to trying to beat those annoying little buggers, ants, grrr. It's so crazy what I hear you accomplish in a day, makes me feel LAZY, the hilight of one of my days was shopping at Target, sorta. I'm enjoying your posts alot, going to miss them, especially when they aren't so often. I finally finished my paper so letter writting to CW is on my things to do today. Will mail soon. Hope you're doing ok, you sound good, which is EXCELLENT! Sooo proud for all that you do and how strong you are. Luv ya buddy and miss ya tons! CTC
P.S Gas is going down in price, YAY, it was $4.30ish now it's close to $4 flat, yay!

Anonymous said...

P.P.S Forgot to say...
Love how the subject is an "Ode" Remind you of anything... :)
Miss ya! Toodles!

Uncle BigMike said...

As of today 8-8-08 I paid 385.99 a gal.Just give it time and it will go back up.Some place in the world will have a problem with the U.S.A. and cut off the flow of oil.Sad but true.Did you know that there is a small team from Benin in the Olympics.But they Never won an Olympic Medal.Maybe this year.

Uncle BigMike

Aunt Beth said...

Hello Catherine it was great to read your post again. It sounds like you are experiencing and learning alot. Oh, by the way, why did you ASS U ME I was referring to Aidan. I was referring to children in general(wink, wink). Glad your doing well. P.S. Where are all the posts from your brother?

Aunt Linda said...

Morning Catherine, A quick hello- I sent out a snail mail yesterday- 2 pages- see that is why I can't post too often- I talk too much, and have way too many questions! Keep up the good work! God Bless be safe!

maman et papa said...

Hello Catherine,
So once again you have aroused a curiosity in another country and world which we would normally not have thought twice of. Benin has sent five athletes to the Olympics; two are in track and field most notably Fabienne Feraez (her specialty is 200 meters) and Saka Souliath. Moloise Oqoudjobi will represent his county in Taekwondo. For a small nation, they were first to bring a contingency to the Olympic Village in Beijing, China. We wish them well as we do you.
God bless and keep washing those hands (and maybe money too – new concept of money laundering! lol)

Love you

ps - BigMike - let me know where you buy gas - don't want to go there!

Uncle BigMike said...

Ok so I put the dot in the wrong place $3.85.But it is still better then it was a few weeks ago.

Brian said...

Don't you love how they call deodorant "Clinical Strength?" Like, you go to your doctor, and they are like "DAMN, you friggin' STINK!" and you are like "Well, I use deodorant, what else can I do?" and the doc goes "Here, let me write you a prescription for some REAL deodorant - clinical strength!" You can now say, "No thanks - Secret will do just fine. Clinical strength my derriere.