Monday, September 15, 2008

Quelle Surprise!

So there IS internet in Dogbo...absolutely delightful. This has entirely made my day. I have to budget my time because It is pretty expensive here compared to other cybers, but it is worth it for at least once a week I guess.

So I got to Dogbo last monday. Our taxi came 2 hours late and it broke down and caught fire on the way but we did make it eventually. Unfortunately, we got in at about 5 and I had to find a menusier to change the locks on my door, get my stuff in the house, take care of the cat, etc. So I missed the marché and couldn't get any food--good thing maman had sent me out here with chicken since she didn't want me to have to cook my first night. First night was definitely stressful. The electricity didn't work so I had to go digging for my headlamp and I didn't have a key to the latrine since my proprietor wasn't home--don't ask what i did to get by. Also, the NGO of the volunteer who lived here before me came and took ALL the furniture, books, etc that she left behind even though they had no right too so I had nothing and slept with the mattress on the floor and hing up my net around it. FInally my homologue (in country work partner) was able to arrange to have the furniture brought back so now i have a tiny table, bed, and a bookshelf. I just put in a big order at the menusier (furniture maker) for a bunch of stuff so hopefully it will be done before November, because it is hard to get around in the house with barely anything.

Also, my cat has a name--Scout--as in boyscout, except in this case, bugscout. And she does not disappoint. All of a sudden she'll get up and run across the room to eat a bug. SHe doesn't eat cockroaches yet because cockroaches are about the size of her head but so far (knock on wood) i've only found 2 in my house and have killed them both promptly. There are a lot that hang outside in my back area. Having a cat here is weird--I go to the marche every few days to buy her fish to eat and i have a little litter box with sand in it for her, but like all things in Benin, it is a little more of a pain to take care of her here.

So my house has 3 rooms. You walk into one big room that will one day be an eating area and 'living room' area. then there are 2 rooms in the back that is my bedroom and kitchen. THe walls are cement and one day I aspire to paint them because they are really grungy and depressing. The floor is a mess too and decidedly impossible to keep clean with the dirt and dust so I bought some mats to throw down which makes me feel a little better about walking around on it. I have a tin roof, but you can't see it because there is a plafond 'fake ceiling' made of bamboo so that is nice looking. there are pro's and cons to the plafond, including for example that last night at 4am or so I was woken up by a huge lizard that was walking around in between the plafond and ceiling because they live there which is gross. Thank god for bug nets. In my back area I have two little cement rooms without ceilings lined with broken glass for security and a little hallway which is all private. I hung up a laundry line out there and I take my bucket showers by moonlight out there before bed--by far my favorite part of the day. In the morning i take out buckets of water to do my dishes and laundry out back as well and i drag out a mat to sit outside and read or eat breakfast in the cooler air since my house is so hot. Everything takes forever here with the water situation. Thankfully I have located BBC news on my shortwave (thanks, dad) which keeps me sane while working comme ca.

So this is all superficial skimming the surface stuff since there is so much to say--sorry about that! Marché day is every 5 days so you kind of have to plan what you want to cook, etc. I was so excited to find avocados in the marché and i also got a beet, some carrots, and cucumber. I realize that sounds boring but it MADE my day to be able to eat veggies how I wanted and when i wanted. I found some marché mama friends who seem nice so far and have given me the good prices for things. One is named Madeline and she always knocks ten CFA off of my eggs. I bought a big garbage can in which I store water. THere is a little petite named Basil who comes and fills it for me every few days and it isn't too expensive. My 2 neighbors Rosine and Rosaline are really sweet also and it is nice to strike up conversations with them. It is definitely overwhelming being here and I have to force myself out everyday to greet people and explore but hopefully it will feel like home eventually, and I think my host family might come visit this week. My maman and I were crying when I left and they were going to come already but my host brother and sister are in the hospital sick, so it had to wait.

It is hard being away from all of the other volunteers but it is nice that there is another in Dogbo. We hung out the other day for a bit and went to a fete saturday night with a french doctor who works at the hospital here. We don't want to be together ALL the time because that isn't good for integration so we don't see each other TOO much but if we need to talk it is nice to know she is there. Another volunteer also rode his bike into Dogbo for lunch the other day which was fun, but it is hard since all of my friends are scattered around the country and I don't know when I will see them next--In service training is around my birthday but that is only for health volunteers so who knows. ALright, well I am going to leave it for now since I know I can come back next week and update some more. Later gators.


maman et papa said...

Need we say anything else!

Aunt Loretta said...

Hello darling .... glad to hear you are settling in and making some friends. I was glad to speak to you the other day and hear first hand the locals signing the "yovo" song. The rooster crowing was also rather interesting. Uncle Mike and I are camping out in Montauk until Thursday "thank God for wireless internet access". Speak to you soon ... unitl then, be well, be happy, know you are loved and missed! Aunt Loretta

Catherine said...

Hey Buddy,
How it's going? So you're kinda moved in to your new house. Shame about the water situation and bugs. Scout sounds cool. I think it's great you'll have a furry friend with you, you need one of those. Great to know you have internet access, updates as especially welcome. Sorry took me a few days to read your blog. I got sick with a head cold and fever. Hope you're doing well, miss ya, will write soon promise!