Saturday, December 4, 2010

November Update

I lost interest in writing blogs for a while, and now that I’m trying to update, I don’t really know what to say. A lot has happened in my little corner of Africa…not really. bahah...but I did manage to write a ridiculously long blog post anyway. :)

First, the picture is of Harrison (and my foot). We were sitting on top of the hill in my village. Every morning I take him on walks and we either go up there or through the cashew 'orchard.' I posted more pictures on facebook last time I was here, they're all online (link is at the bottom). I have more pictures from Thanksgiving, but I forgot to bring my camera.

Anyway, teaching is going well; we have devoirs (examinations) next week. I became our school’s secretary this past week and typed up all the devoirs and they’re all (except for English class, obviously) in French. It was boring and it took forever (I typed with an English keyboard then went back and did accents). Other teachers and my director were in awe over how fast I type, it was hilarious. My director bought me two cokes on Thursday because of all my extra work.

I love my 6eme students, I teach all of the 6eme students at our school, which is really convenient for tests (they all take the same one). 6eme is first year English and they’re just adorable, fun and enthusiastic. I teach my three 6eme classes on Mondays and Thursdays, 8am-10am and 10am-12pm and 3pm-5pm. I mostly despise my one 5eme class. They’re horrible. They misbehave so much and it takes a lot of effort to get them involved in the class. Plus, they don’t remember anything from 6eme and the first 2 weeks was review.

I had to go to Cotonou for a follow up appointment on December 19th, Cotonou is always nice. I hate getting there and coming back, but the air conditioning, hot showers and delicious food always makes up for it. I got back to post Saturday and then Sunday had to leave for Parakou. Sunday through Thursday all the TEFLers had training! It was SO FUN!! It was great to be back in our group again. Wednesday night we did TEFLganger party which was ridiculous, hilarious and chaos did ensue. Brandon was me and was wearing my giraffe print tank dress, I have pictures, but I forgot to bring my camera here. I was Lauren and wore her signature outfit and bandana and

We had a TEFL Thanksgiving and it was great! It’s probably the most ‘homesick’ I’ve felt because I’ve never been away from home. I did get to talk to my mom, sister and grandma though which was good. I shouldn't say we, because I just made brownies, but a lot of people came together and made an AMAZING meal. The guard at the Peace Corps Parakou workstation killed the turkey, and then Katy and Jenny cleaned it or whatever and cooked it, and it was delicious. There was also stuffing (from baguettes), mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese (laughing cow cheese), fried potatoes, rolls, baguettes with garlic oil (amazing), SALAD (I miss it so much), fruit salad and lots of adult beverages. We all went around and said what we were thankful for and it was adorable and sappy and a great Thanksgiving!

I went back to village Friday. Then on Saturday the Phantom Oro was out during the day, he/it/they started at like 9:30am. It was so funny, I was just doing chores around the house and just had a pagne (2 meters of fabric used for everything) on as a wrap dress. This ancient old man came to the door and I said be right there and went to grap something to cover my shoulders, when I came back my front door was closed haha. Then I heard the chant of the phantom. I thought that was sweet.

When the phantom is out (usually at night), women have to stay inside with doors and windows closed. Incidentally, my friend Obden also visited that day. I didn’t think it would be a big deal because he’s a man. I guess it took him a while to find a zem to take him to my village (I’m a 15/20 minute zem ride from the highway). Luckily the Phantom went on repos (nap) shortly after he arrived (1pm), so we went to visit different people. While we were talking to a family people started shrieking and yelling that phantom was coming so we had to run back to my house and I could not stop laughing…oh voodoo… then the phantom went on repos again and we came back out and visited lots more people, ate rice and beans, visited Papa Challa and the buvette and the phantom didn’t return again, yay!
He is still out at night though. I feel like it’s just perma-phantom time in Challa-Ogoi. During my 9 weeks in Porto Novo their “Oro” only came out 2 nights. Maybe phantom is different, or maybe the men in my village just want an excuse to party every night.

Anyway, now I’m in Parakou, I got here yesterday morning and searched for a place to get a Burkina Faso visa…it’s not possible. So I have to go to Cotonou before I can go to Mali. If I get a visa on the boarder it’s 120mille, if I buy it in advance it’s only 61mille. (only…that’s $120, so almost an entire months’ salary). Anyway, it will be worth it, I’m SO EXCITED to go to Mali and see Dogon Country and the Nile River and everything else we’re doing!

I did have to come back here anyway, I wanted to type up my English devoirs and get them copied, and I had to print another vacation request form and a few other forms for a secondary project I have in the works. PLUS, I got to skype my family!! The Parakou workstation got satellite internet!!! I was able to see and talk to everyone for over 2 hours, for FREE! My cousin Cali is so freaking adorable and I’m so thankful to Peace Corps for putting satellite internet in. I didn’t realize how much I missed everyone until today, but it was such a great pick me up. Yay. 

Anyway, that was a big highlight for me. Oh and on a completely unrelated note, I’m 99% sure I have giardia, I won’t give you the details, but I have every symptom, and it sucks. So, I’m going to call the doctors tomorrow and see what they want me to do…probably go to Cotonou. Convenient for me, but I will have to starve myself to ensure that said symptoms don’t affect my taxi or bus ride down.

BUS! On my way down to Cotonou for my appointment I got a bus, it was fantastic. I was standing there on the highway and this bus slows down and a guy yells “COTONOU??” and I, starting to run, yell back, “YES!?” and then he motions me to get on and I jumped on a moving bus. It was really exciting and then the best, most comfortable, efficient ride of my life in Benin. I got a whole row to myself and was able to sleep.

Ummm…my birthday is on Sunday (December 5th)!

Also, I ate slugs in village, they were DISGUSTING, but they were served to me and probably good because they have protein (I think?).

I don’t know what else to say…
I posted a lot more pictures, so check them out here:

I leave for my trip to Mali on December 20th and get back January 2nd; I plan to stay at post for all of January though, so, if that actually happens I won’t be back online until February.

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