Sunday, September 21, 2008

So I can't believe I've already been in Dogbo for 2 weeks...and I can't believe it's only been 2 weeks at the same time. Time is funny like that here. My house still is really rudimentary because I haven't really had the money to paint or anything but Peace COrps finally paid us so tomorrow I am taking the taxi to Lakossa to meet up with 2 volunteers there and go to the bank. Finally I will be able to get a fan which I think will significantly boost my quality of life here...or at least just my overall happiness.

On a completely random note entirely unrelated to anything 'My Heart Will Go On' is playing right now in this Cyber on a loop and I think it is funny because the last time I experienced that was on my last night in Shanghai at the all vegetarian tofu restaurant I was in and I had the exact same reaction then as now, which is the first time it plays I think 'Oh nice, I haven't heard this in a long time' and by the second or twentieth I want to break the speakers. I do NOT understand the fascination of Celine Dion here but I guess now and then it is nice to hear familiar music.

So things are going pretty well here. I am starting to find my niche and still finding new stuff evey day which I am sure will be the case for the next 2 years, actually. I have started carrying a notebook around with me so I can write down peoples names and Adja words as I come across them and it is really great because kids especially respond really well when you take the time to learn their names because no one really does. So i stop and talk with them now and they have started to call me Catherine as I walk by instead of Yovo, which is really nice...and sometimes they cadeau me with oranges (a cadeau is the french for present and is kind of used as a verb here). Some days it is a struggle to get myself to venture out of my house. I can hide away for the morning and pretend I'm not an ocean away from my friends and family in Benin where hardly anyone speaks English (though I did find a Nigerian clock vendor in the marché who spêaks English and it was SO weird to talk to someone from here not in French) but it is nice when I finally get out for the day and talk to people. It is just sometimes overwhelming because you can never just walk down the have to stop and saluer (greet) everyone otherwise you are seen as rude and it just takes forever and we come from this culture of 'get to where you need to be and do what you need to do ASAP' so sometimes I have to stop and calm myself and tell myself that stopping to talk to this person is not going to totally throw off my day. It is afterall part of what I was looking for in doing this--that person to person connection. I do however mostly brush off men entirely because I have ZERO tolerance for the forceful in your face 'madame ou madamoiselle?' and telling me you love me or asking for my phone number after talking for 2 seconds. And often when you tell them off they pull out the 'What...are you racist?' card and all I can really think is...'yeah because the number one destination for racist yovos is Africa'...that makes sense.

So in addition to getting harassed like that yesterday afternoon in particular, I also had a machete swung at my by a village fou. There are three Fous (crazies) in Dogbo and I have so far come across 2 of them. One crawls around on his hands and legs but belly up all day and the other is just a little old man who harasses me at least a few times a week, yesterday being the worst with the machete. To make up for it I guess in some cosmic sense, I got cadeaued with limes when I went out to find them for mexican night. 2 other volunteers came up to Dogbo for our marché day and stayed for dinner so we bought some miscellaneous meat (though judging from the carcass I am pretty sure it was a cow), and had like a mexican meat with pico de gallo (cabbage with tomatoes and limes, piment, etc) and our own refried bean (sorta) invention. It was delicious and so nice to eat actual meat since my protein intake here is usually eggs or beans. It is just hard to go out and get and cook chicken and meat for one person because marche day is only every 5 days and there really isn't storage. I think my post mate and I might meet up a few times a month to split chicken or something. We didn't make tortillas because we didn't have flour and we did't find avocados in the marché yesterday so no guacamole either but it was still just an amazing night. It's hard to describe stuff like that because the littlest things here start to make you so happy that wouldn't even phase you at home so I feel like some of the things I describe here are sounding really boring but they are like the highlight of my life here for the week. LIke finding avocados in the marché last week had me flying on cloud nine for days but at home it's just whatever...go to the 24 hour grocery store and buy some avocados if you want, big whoop. ANd I was unpacking some care package food that also probably wouldn't even phase me at home like tuna and chicken and it is like gold here. I actually stared at it for quite a bit and feel like I am hording it because one day I will break down and need to eat Western food. I'm trying to get over it and actually opened one of them the other day...Delish. This morning I actually made crepes just pour moi and they were AMAZING and reminded me of being home because my little house smelled like when my dad makes them. ANd i feel I am actually cooking now because my menusier finished my amazing kitchen table and shelves so I actually have room to move around and cook and put my stuff. The computers here are so old that there are no USB ports to even attempt uploading pics so I have to figure something out. Well I am actually out of time and i have no more money to buy credit here until I go to the bank so I will write more some time this week...when it is open here since it closes for reposé and les choses comme ca. à la prochaine!


Aunt Loretta said...

Good morning sunshine ~ Need I say more ... lol, but of course! First let me say that nothing you write is boring or ho-hum. I think I speak for all when I say we so look forward to hearing about your life in Dogbo and although you may think finding fruits and veggies would be boring for us, it's just not ... although we can't full comprehend your life, I think we all understand the limitations and how amazing it must be for you when you come across the items we take for granted on a daily basis. It also makes us stop in our fast paced tracks and appreciate what we have and what we take for granted. Love you all day. Hugs and kissed to you and Porkchop and Beans send their regards to Scout. Aunt Loretta

Uncle BigMike said...

Hello kid.Your aunt Loretta and I spent 5 days in Montauk camping on the beach we had a good time but the best part was when Loretta caught her very first blue fish about 3 pounds she called it jaws.I think she has a pic of her holding it on her facebook page.I have another head lamp if you want it for a backup we will send it next time.Well it is time for me to go take care and be safe....Love Uncle Mike

Anonymous said...

Hey Buddy,
How's it going? You sound well bud, def. seems like you're finding your way over there. Don't like machetes, never been a big fan... Mexican food in Africa, that sounds sooo cool. It's good to here you're settling in, seeing friends, and making food. Important things for CW. It's such a different life over there, it's almost hard to imagine, but you seem to be doing well. How's Scout? I hope things continue to go well. Don't forget, soooooooooooooo proud of you. Seriously, dude, it's amazing stuff you do and are experiencing. Stay safe and miss ya oodles! Cath

Aunt Loretta said...

Hello darling ~ How are you?

Thought you'd get a chuckle about this ... the Vice President in my office drove to NYC the other day to his son's apartment. He got the last parking spot on the street. When he got back to his car a few hours later, he was blocked in by another car ... the other car had diplomat plates and the sign in the window said the diplomat was from "Benin". Can you believe it. He said he couldn't wait to tell me about it this morning. Like you said, it's a small world, even in Africa.