Happy belated Easter! I hope you all had a wonderful one and spent it with family. I had a nice Easter with my quasi-family. On Good Friday there was a reenactment of the stations of the cross, but it took place in the afternoon in the hot sun and they walk over 4 miles, so I decided not to do it.
My Easter started at 1am when the Easter vigil service got out. I did not go to the service, but I was awoken by the absurdly loud drumming and singing that followed it. I sat up and did crossword puzzles until the party ended almost two hours later.
I took the young girls to church in the morning. The service was three hours long and all in the local language so it was pretty hard to sit through, but I entertained myself by looking at all the fancy and outrageous outfits people had made for Easter. One really cool thing is that every year the village picks out a fabric that anyone who can afford it gets to make their Easter outfit out of, so many people were wearing the same orange and blue fabric. Another entertaining thing was watching the ten or so men with big sticks who roamed the church during the service, smacking those who were sleeping, talking or babies who were crying. It sure seemed to me that they enjoyed and almost abused this position. I wanted to scream that if the services weren't so darn long, people wouldn't be falling asleep! A few older women received their first communion, and they each gave the church a gift: one woman gave 20 eggs, one gave a live chicken, one gave a basket of onions, etc. After the service these women paraded around the town singing.
After church I took the little girls to get some food, and then we came home and they helped me bake a devil's food cake. While it was dancing, we had a dance party in my kitchen! It was a blast despite being I think the hottest day since coming to Benin. Then, I was invited out with the family for the evening. We stopped at several different family members' houses and had a drink at each one, and then ended up at the main family house to have a meal of delicious BBQ chicken, beer, and my cake! (I can't imagine how many chickens were killed yesterday- our family alone killed 5! Poor guys) It was nice to feel like part of the family. In fact, the zipper on my top broke, and they acted like it was no big deal and the women covered me and got me a pagne to cover-up- it was so nice! I also got several calls from family at home, which was great. I guess my dad put together a DVD of the photos and videos that Sandy took when she was here, which my whole family got to watch on Easter. They got to see me teaching!
My spring break is now in full swing! We had a short two-day school week, the highlight of which was my department meeting in which- no joke- we took two hours to discuss the steps for doing a reading comprehension lesson. My first day of break I took to overhaul my house, and while I cleaned a boy from my concession scrubbed the floors, walls, and windows. It was kind of fun- we turned the music up and drank some beers as we sweat profusely and did our work. I am finding that I am already getting a bit bored, which isn't a good sign for the summer break! I have lots of camps and little trips planned, though, so hopefully it will be ok.
Today I am in Cotonou to get my packages and run some errands, and tonight a friend and I are going to a nice dinner. Tomorrow she is coming back to my village with me, and then on Saturday my friends Katie and John Mark are coming to Lobogo. We will probably visit Possotome one day, and maybe even hit the beach at Grand Popo. I still have about 150 exams to grade before the end of break :(
But how crazy is this: I found out that our final exams start on May 11! And one of the weeks before then is practice testing, so there are no regular classes. So basically, the year is over! Part of me is happy, but I am also disappointed in how not far I got in the curriculum. Since exams are the week Amanda comes, I will now have that whole week free to be with her and not worry about school, which is great. She now comes in less than four weeks! She is going to bring my new camera which I'm really happy about.
Yesterday, we had an insane downpour in Lobogo which almost flooded my kitchen and revealed several small leaks/seepages in my house. I didn't even care, though- my house got down to 77 degrees!!! It was HEAVENLY! And then- drumroll, please- when I woke up I was COLD and it was 75 in my room!!I don't think I have felt a temperature that cool since leaving the States! Let's hope that this means the start of the rainy season! (One bad side effect, though: flying ants decided to breed in my shower. There were so many that I couldn't see the walls, it was horrible. There was a mouse trying to eat the ants and then in turn my cat ate the mouse. Ah, circle of life...)
That's all for now! Have a good week :)