So I am officially out of the medical unit., which is good considering that it was driving me crazy. I am used to being alone most of the time here and I spent over 2 weeks constantly surrounded by a flurry of volunteers passing through Cotonou on their way to vacations or ending their service. I love seeing other volunteers but that was just too much. I couldn’t really walk for the majority of my stay there because my feet were so cut up and I wasn’t ready to get back on a zem so my movement for those two weeks was confined to hobbling around (because I swear, being a yovo in Benin doesn't draw enough attention to me...i need to add bandages and a limp) in about a 2 block radius away from headquarters. The only thing to do during the day was read, watch movies, or sit on the computer…all a novelty when you visit
After a few days the intensity of what happened seemed to diminish. I stopped replaying it every few minutes in my head. But then every time that I thought I was doing just fine something would remind me about the accident. The following Sunday, for example, I put on the dress I wore that day for the first time since the accident and realized the whole skirt section of it was entirely shredded from dragging along the road. I had a cut on my thumb also that wasn’t healing and was surprisingly irritating considering its small size. A few days after that (about a week and a half after my accident) I finally was able to pull out a small shard of glass that had been jammed in there. I’m still shaken up enough that I haven’t zemmed yet still. It is inevitable if I am going to stay here so I should probably just bite the bullet and try it out in Dogbo before I’ll have to in
I’m fairly certain that the nail on my left big toe is destined to fall off. I think it was just too damaged after the impact. It keeps oozing blood and well….ooze… from underneath and is an opaque white color. Every time there is pressure on it, it hurts and yet it feels oddly detached. So I am sure it is only a matter of time before my feet look like my grandpa’s, which for those of you who haven't seen them...well...just be grateful. :)
At any rate, coming back to Dogbo for some reason seems to have snapped me out of the funk I was in when I got back to
Rainy season is in full swing here (a fact that I was lamenting since I spent most of rainy season in the states and the medical unit and it happens to be the coolest time of year in Southern Benin...it seems like a missed opportunity) and I am starting to realize that the grass really IS always greener on the other side. Of course trite punning aside, it’s actually amazingly green here right now.
1. Mud…oh, the mud is partout.
2. My laundry takes about 3 days to dry and at that point smells kind of funky.
3. Mildew. The mildew is aussi partout. My whole bedroom reeks of mildew. I stripped my bed and washed my sheets only to realize that it is actually my mattress that still smells. My wall hanging in my room gets wet when it rains since there is a leak in my roof above that wall, so it too is starting to smell fairly awful. But the worst is my clothes. All the clothes in my drawers are starting to smell and it isn’t as if washing clothes here is a piece of cake. And they smell all mildewy by the time they dry now anyway.
But apart from the mildew's acerbic attack on my nose every day, I’ve been having a pretty good time since being back in Dogbo. I took a lot of pictures of people in Dogbo before I left for vacation. While I was home, I had them printed and brought them back to give to people, a job hadn't finished before my little sejour in Cotonou. So i went out the other day to give the girls that I worked with at the cyber their pictures. They started shrieking with excitement when they saw them and were SO happy to have copies (there was a group shot for each of them and then each of them struck a pose as well in an individual shot). They invited me to a ceremony Saturday to celebrate their finishing up their "apprenticeship" with computers at the cyber, which had me really excited--not the ceremony...honestly after a year here I can officially say that beninese ceremonies tend to be boring and extremely awkward, especially as the lone yovo...but to be invited to participate with them and included in their celebration made me really happy.
I arrived Saturday morning at 9am like the invitation said, though only God knows why. I mean, really...i've lived here long enough that I should have known that the ceremony wouldn't start until well after 11AM. I got there and the girls were all in meme tissu outfits, looking very shnazzy. They were going to a buvette to get chairs to set up and I went with them to help, lifting some chairs against their protests that "madame" shouldn't be doing that. It's like doing all my own handy work around my house...i think it sends a positive message. But anyways, i was sitting in the cyber lamenting the fact that after over a year of living here i was foolish enough to leave my house for a Beninese function without a book when my bored fiddling with my phone was interrupted by one of the men who works at the cyber. I know him and said hi and then I noticed that he was standing with another man, considerably older than him who I did not know. The older man didn't speak at all except to say bonjour. I guess I don't always...or ever...exude any sort of friendliness that would encourage conversation when a man comes up to me in this country though. The guy that I did know held out an envelope and said that the second man had wanted to talk to me when I had some time. I looked at the envelope and he was pointing at the man's name which was written on it. I was a little confused and thought maybe he was just showing me that so I'd know his name. I thought maybe he didn't speak French and wanted this guy to translate for us...and I figured that it had something to do with money because in Benin...it usually does. I looked around the room that still had no guests in it and told him I had time then to talk if he wanted and the second man looked a little flustered. The first man said no, I should take the letter, and I looked at the older guy and told him if he wanted i could take it, read it later, and get back to him, and he nodded. The girls were sitting next to me and he didn't seem to want to talk in front of them. Again, I thought, prooooooooobably money. So i took the envelope and went back to playing a game on my phone.
Curiosity ever being a weakness of mine that was at the time encouraged by being bored waiting for the ceremony, I opened up the envelope a few minutes later just to see what it was about. My eyes stopped over the "objet" section which is the french equivalent of "Re:" What was his object you ask?
Proposition de Marriage.
Andddd the envelope got re-shut. As most of my friends and mom know...any sort of unwanted male attention tends to send me into hyperactive irrational panic mode. I felt my heartbeat skip a beat and this sick feeling settled into my stomach. When I first came to Benin, I did not do very well with the sexual harassement. Every time a man made a lewd comment, or I got "ma cheried" I would kind of squirm up inside and feel really uncomfortable and vulnerable. Over time I got over it. I learned how to come up with quick quips to shut men up and put them in their place, and stand up for myself here. I also learned when it wasn't worth it to even bother and to instead just ignore them. For the most part now, if a man starts hitting on me I walk away and maybe tell them to shut up and respect themselves. I don't however feel physically ill when it happens.
This situation however, brought that feeling back because while I've gotten marriage proposals before from men and their mothers I've never gotten such an official one. I mean, this man wrote out his qualifications to be my husband and was telling me how much he loved me....a girl whose name he doesn't even know. For me, coming from my culture in the States, it was beyond absurd. I felt a lot better when I left the cyber and felt in control again. I reminded myself that it doesn't mean anything because it takes two to tango, and if i have my way I will never see him again, nor will I respond to his request--I will merely tuck it into my journal for safekeeping in case I end up a spinster so that i can remind myself that at one time someone did want to marry me...even if he was at least twice my age and didn't know me at all.
Anyways, other than that, the ceremony was very nice and I was still happy to celebrate with the girls! A la prochaine!