Map of my village (kind of, there are way more houses, and it's not to scale or really that accurate, but that kind of gives you an idea)
Map of my house!
Tuesday, September 28th
So I’ve been at post just over a week. I LOVE my village, I could not be happier. I already feel like I’m at home and feel like the luckiest volunteer because I think my post is definitely the best
Challa Ogoï is really tiny, but for what we don’t have here, people and community totally makes up for it. I love everyone here!
This week I’ve been busy rearranging and cleaning. I’ve swept all the walls and floors, dusted all the furniture and then bleach water cleaned all the furniture and the floors. It feels new and clean. I decided I didn’t want to do tile, and I don’t think I want to paint either. I actually am a little embarrassed and uncomfortable by how nice my house is. It’s probably the nicest house in my village, and I just have so much stuff. I think tile would just be over the top and ridiculous.
Getting my house in order had taken a while because I spend a lot of time meeting and spending time with people in my village. I want to get to know people and be a presence in the village. Plus, I want friends! Haha.
Anyway, here’s what a day looks like (school doesn’t start for a couple weeks):
5:30am/6am – Gong/Drum goes off
6ish am – let Harrison outside, feed him
6:20am – crawl back into bed, be attacked by Harrison and Moose, listen to people sweeping, singing, greeting each other
7am – get up, sweep, make bed, get ready for the day
8am – 9/9:30am – Walk to breakfast, sit and talk, greet people, meet people for an hour or so, eat WAY too much and feel really really full. Breakfast is soo good. It’s little fried bean flour dough balls and bouillie, which is like porridge. In Nagot it’s ika and koko.
9:30am-1pm– walk around, talk to random people, sit under trees in silence with people, talk to kids, wonder what to do until lunch time, organize my house, rearrange, go through the mass load of peace corps paperwork, greet everyone who comes to my house, paint kid’s nails, play with Harrison and Moose, sweep, etc
12pm/1pm – Lunch with bean lady. 100 F for a delicious heaping plate of perfectly steamed white rice and perfectly cooked (without piment) brown/pinto (?) beans and red sauce. I LOVE and look forward to this lunch every day, I think because I was so deprived in Porto Novo. Bean lady sits and watches me eat every day, she speaks some French. She sat by me at church and helped me figure out what to do too.
1pm/2pm – 3pm/4pm: Shower time, nap time, reading in bed time. When school is in session 12pm-3pm is repose every day.
4pm-7pm: Hang out with Taoffics, think about what I’m going to eat for dinner, ask other people what they’re eating for dinner, get invited to dinner at their house, walk around and greet other side of village, have kids show me around, walk through 'marche,' perhaps buy some tomatoes and pretend like I’m going to cook…later give tomatoes away because I’m eating dinner with people
7pm/8pm: Dinner, yam pillet with neighbors, Taoffics 3 times this week.
8pm-11pm: reading by candle light, listening to sounds of Challa.
School supposedly starts October 4th and this will be way different, I don’t think school will really start until the following week though, or the one after that.
I’m going to Parakou this Friday to do banking and buy a couple things. I’m just going to go for the day because I don’t want to leave behind Harrison and Moose overnight.
Sunday I went to the Protestant church…it was interesting. I thought it was supposed to start at 9, so I arrived at breakfast at 8:15am. I ate breakfast, talked and listened to gossip and then began wondering why we were still sitting there at 8:50am. At about 9:15am a maman tells me that church starts at 10am. Ok, that’s fine, I just decided to hang out until then. At around 10:20am we meander over to the church. Church finally starts at 11:30am. This is Benin. Three months ago I would have freaked out. Now, it doesn’t even phase me. This is normal for Benin, this is why I carry a book with me at all times.
Anyway, church. The men sit on the left side, the women on the right, the eligible women sit in a section in the front right and the kids sit/lay in a little area between the women and eligible women. I went with the maman who makes ika (bean gateaux at breakfast) and rice and beans maman. Rice and beans maman sat next to me in the womens’ section. I was instructed to sit with the eligible women, but I said I wasn’t really eligible because I didn’t want to get married for at least ten years. This was amusing for them, but they accepted after some joking around. Well, at the end of service the Censure from my school (kind of like vice principal) stands up and announces that I’m actually single, I just didn’t want to sit in the eligible women section. Three men stood up and rice and beans maman told me that they would marry me. Great, thanks!