I will probably (at least for a little while)…..
-wear a pagne ‘dress’ 24/7 (I’m bringing pagnes back for everyone, most convenient thing ever)
-eat everything with my (right) hand (everything is eaten with the hands, ragou (like pudding but made with yams), rice and beans, yam pilee (think mashed potatoes), etc. Only the right hand because the left hand is the dirty hand in Nagot….I buy tp in the big city so my left hand isn’t actually dirty, but peoples’ jaws drop if they see me use my left hand, so I’m pretty good about remembering now)
-never use my left hand for anything (^)
-only paint the nails on my left hand (^)
-always have braided hair (so easy and convenient…but actually probably not depending on my job)
-hold strangers’ babies (probably not, but imagining an American just handing their baby off to me because they needed to do something made me laugh)
-be really excited to see toilets and especially toilet paper
-not wear make-up (it’s heaven)
-drink water from any cup within reach, not necessarily mine (there’s like 1-2 cups of water per table/group, we share everything here)
-this is horrible, but it might accidentally happen….throw my trash anywhere and everywhere, wherever I happen to be standing. We all do it and we all feel really guilty…there aren’t trash cans. (At post I burn my trash, throw it in my latrine or give it to kids…they want it, also, at school there’s a trash can and I always use it..and I’m the only one and other teachers laugh at me)
-talk to people in a messed up mix of English, French and Nagot (my village basically only speaks Nagot, at school, in cities and while traveling I speak French, seeing volunteers I definitely speak Franglais)
-eat disgusting/bland food because I have no taste buds (I wish I could explain pate better, but basically it’s tasteless goo paste made from corn flour used to eat sauce)
-eat raging hot/spicy foods because it doesn’t faze me (seriously, I eat spicey spaghetti way too much)
-‘saluer’ (greet) every single person that I see:
- (like this: ‘Good morning, how are you? How did you sleep? How did you wake up? How is your health? How is your husband/wife? How are your kids? How is your home? Ok, I’m going to work now, I will see you at ___. Good sit (if they’re sitting). Eat well (if they’re eating). Have a good day.’
-Miss my village a lot, as well as the rain, watching goats, sitting with mamans, sling shotting with the boys, my girls, my girls playing with my hair, teaching (here), holding babies, seeing babies everywhere, buckets of cold water during the hottest part of the day, being able to validate going to sleep at 7:30 because it’s dark and candles are expensive, taxis (I may complain, but there’s always some hilarity, or I can reminisce and laugh), yam pilee, my family, everyone.
That last bit is kind of sappy, but I was just thinking about how much I love Benin, especially Challa, and how weird it is that after two years it’s a likely possibility that I will never be back. Beninese ask me all the time why I just come and then leave. It is kind of strange, I never know what to say in response...