Hey everyone. This is my blog from Benin, Africa. I'll try to write as much about my experience as I can. Hope you all enjoy and feel free to write me as well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

December and January

Well I guess I should start off by apologizing for not writing in so long. I apologize for dropping of the face of the earth for the last month but I was very very busy, thank goodness. So I guess to start off I can talk about my trip to the north of Benin for Christmas. My best friends Steffi lives in the northern part of Benin called the Alabori and she invited me to her house to spend the Christmas Holiday. We left a couple days after we were finished with our training session and I spent three days up north with her. Her village is much smaller than mine but it was very comfortable and welcoming. Another volunteer also lives in village with her so she is very lucky because she always has a friend to hang out with. Now this would have been a problem however if they didn’t get along but they do so it all worked out perfectly. Three of our guys friends also came up to Steffi’s house to celebrate Christmas, so it was a small gathering but we had a really good time. For Christmas Eve, my mom had sent me pancake mix and syrup from the states so, we made breakfast for dinner along with eggs and some friend cheese that was suppose to be like bacon, but really it just tasted like fried cheese lol. We tried to find Christmas music to listen to on our shortwave radios so for about half the time we listened to Christmas music. Shortwave is really unreliable however because they stations are always turning on and off and they are always switching frequencies. For Christmas day we first went over to Steffi’s homologues house for lunch. She feed us rice and turkey and it was really good. However after we had finished eating that, other people kept coming over to the house to give us food so we ended up having to eat like 4 times, and let me tell you I though I was going to throw up trying to stuff more food in my mouth because it is impolite not to eat it. So, for our dinner we decided to eat really late, at about 11:00 p.m. because none of use were hungry. We cooked chickens and made mashed sweet potatoes. We made a couple of other things but the best part was the cake we made. I think no matter how full all of us were there was no stopping us from that cake, we ravished it. There was nothing left.
After spending several days in the dusty, dry north of Benin, Steffi and I left to spend a fews days at my post before New Years. We didn’t do much at my post but relax and get ready for our upcoming trip. For New Years were had been invited to go to Togo by Steffi’s boyfriend. He is Lebanese and lives in Cotonou working for a construction company. We were very excited because he has a car so that meant we wouldn’t have to take public transportation. Our friend Satin also joined us on our trip. We left on New Years Eve day and went to Lome, Togo which is about a 3 hour drive from Cotonou. Lome is much more developed then Cotonou so we were very excited to see and new city. We stayed at a hotel on the beach, and it had air conditioning and television. I personally could have just stayed at the hotel the hole time watching television and laying by the pool, but we had plans so we went out. We met up with a bunch of Steffi’s boyfriends and went to out. First we went to a Chinese food restaurant, it was pretty good but nothing like Chinese at home. After that we had VIP in a club in Lome. It was really fun and we danced all night until the sun came up, and then we went swimming in the hotel pool. Oh I don’t think that I mentioned that here in Benin and as well as in Togo, no one goes out to the clubs until like 2:00 a.m. This is why we were up so late because nothing gets started until I would normally have been in bed. So anyways, the next day we hung out by the pool and swam at the beach. We couldn’t really lay out at the beach though because there were sand fleas, so we just swam a bit and then went back to the pool. Later that day we left and came back to Cotonou. I ended up spending a couple of days with my boyfriend before going back to my post.
Speaking of my boyfriend I guess I should let you all no that it is getting a bit more serious than I had originally thought. He is a great guy and he treats me like a princess and I am very happy with him at the moment. So we shall see what happens but right now and I am just having fun and am happy being with him.
Oh I also must mention that they day we got back my friend Satin got engaged. She has been seeing an Beninese man here pretty much since the beginning and he asked her to marry him. I am super happy for her because I know she loves him a lot and think she is going to be really happy. Don’t get any ideas for me though I have lots of things I want to do in my life before I even think about getting married haha.
So I am now back at my post after having lots of fun during the month of December and I must say that I am bored lol. But I will be going back to Cotonou more frequently now that I have a boyfriend that lives there. Oh and have I mentioned that I have found many fabulous places in Cotonou. First of all I think I have already mentioned but we have found some really nice places to go out to at night with good music and great atmosphere. We have also found some great places to eat with things like pizza and hamburgers, who would of thought. And my favorite is that we found out that the hotels in Cotonou, which are 4 start and very nice, let you pay a small fee to hang out at there pools. So I have been getting some luxury in my life over hear, which I must say was much needed.
So life at post has also been rather interesting since I have been back. First of all I have found some new things that I am going to work on. I recently found out that the baby weighings I have been helping out with aren’t for everyone in the community. They are only for the people who are paid to get help from the NGO Borne Fonden. So the men I work we and I have decided that we are going to start some new baby weighings so that everyone in the community can come. To be able to do the baby weighings however you have to have somewhere to do them. Usually they have them in these things called piots, which kind of look like pavilions. So since we don’t have one I am going to try and get a grant to build one at my CPS, the office where I work, so that we have a place to do this. If we build this it will also be a great place to do educational sessions and many other things. So I am very excited to get this started. Once we start the baby weighings I am also hoping I can start to do some of the nutritional recuperation stuff that I learned about during training.
So on a different not I had a very scary thing happen to me the other day. I had just gotten out of the shower and was in my room brushing my hair when I look over to the door of my room and there was a million RED ANTS. They had come from somewhere and started swarming into my house. I of course screamed and had to jump through them to get out of my house. They were crawling all over me and biting me. My neighbors all ran into my house and started pouring poison on the floor and trying to stomp on them and kill them. They were all screaming too because they were getting bitten. I probably had 15 people in my house trying to help me. Needless to say after about 2 hours we got all of the ants out. It was horrible. I wouldn’t have minded black ants because they don’t bite, but red ants do and when a bunch of them are all over you biting you, and does start to hurt. So for a couple of days after that I was pretty scared to go to sleep because I feared that the swarm would come back and get me in my sleep.
Oh life in Africa, all I have to say is something new happens everyday, good and bad, but I am proud to say that I am getting through it all. If that would have happened to me in the states I would have moved out of my house lol. Well that’s pretty much all I have for now. Miss everyone and I will really try to write on here more.

1 comment:

Ray said...

Hi Natalie,
My name is Ray, and I am a seminary student in Philadelphia.
I came across your blog and wanted to ask you about Benin.
I recently received a grant to learn French in West Africa, and I was also hoping to do some service work while I was there. My girlfriend would also be coming along with me. Do you know of any places in benin where I could take some French classes and also volunteer? My email is onlyrr21@hotmail.com.