My adventures serving in the Peace Corps

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back into the groove

Sorry it has been a while since my last post. Readjusting to life in Benin has definitely been challenging. Getting back to Lobogo for the first time was exciting... for about five minutes. When I opened my front door, a wave of hideous cat-urine smell hit me, and I saw that my cats had absolutely destroyed my house. Not only had they knocked everything off my shelves, but they had eaten a lot of my food that they could obviously smell through the bags, including my precious tuna and chicken packets. When I continued back into my bedroom, I saw where the smell was coming from: they had decided to use my bed/matress as a litter box while I was away. Angele then informed me that Belle had squeezed through my wooden blinds and ripped a hole in my screen, escaping out the back of my house (so, the screen had to be replaces ASAP lest I get lots of creatures in my house). It took me a few days to clean up from all of that. I let my matress dry in the sun, treated it with lots of Febreeze, and flipped it over. Surprisingly, the smell is gone now.
The first few days of sitting around doing nothing were really hard, especially after the constant go-go-go of being home. I was really sad being there alone, and kept thinking "A week ago, I was..." I definitely made a few teary phone calls home!
The saddness has all but dissappeared by now. I have gotten quite busy, and that obviously helps. I took Fifa into Cotonou one last time to pick up her glasses, and to our mutual delight they help her a lot! She has been wearing them all the time since we got them which is a good sign. I really hope they help her in school this year! Then Michelle came over for a few days, and we literally spent that entire time working on a 2000 piece Times Square puzzle I brought back from the States, and STILL couldn't finish it! (see picture :)
Later that week, I was surprised when Ryan, a former volunteer in Lobogo, showed up for a visit. He is back in Benin working on an import/export business he wants to set up, plus he just wanted to visit everyone! It has been nice seeing him; one night we went out for drinks and then he invited me to dinner at his old neighbors' house.
That weekend Michelle, Catherine, and I got together to start working on our Camp GLOW fund request and plan our trip to Mali. The picture of the clean laundry laying out to dry on the dirt pile was taken there... no comment necessary. It looks like that trip is really coming together! We will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas up in Natitingou just like I did last year, and then traveling to Burkina Faso on the 26th. On the 27th and 28th we will get up to Mali and see the huge mud mosque in Djenne, and the 29th to the 1st will be our hike through Dogon country. I can't wait! We already have our guide booked, so all we have to do before then is book a few hotels- the rest will be done in transit. As usual when I get together with those girls, we watched lots of movies and ate lots of good food :) I had brought a few baking mixes back from the States ad they were all awesome!
Then Catherine came back to Lobogo with me for a night. We were greeted with a HUGE funeral party going on across the street from my house, and, as usual, their music was BLARING round the clock. Even at four in the morning, it sounded like someone was holding a loud radio up to my ear! The music continued for two more days, and stopped just as I was on the brink of insanity. I barely got a wink of sleep.
On Tuesday I helped out at a local English club with some other volunteers, where we talked about American sports. I then went back to Lokossa with Michelle where we- surprise- cooked and watched a movie. When I got back to post, I was greeted by two three-hour-old goats in my concession- check out the pictures!
Now I'm down in Cotonou for the night. The bureau is REALLY crowded with the last few volunteers the year ahead of me leaving, people doing mid-service medical exams, and the new volunteers swearing-in tomorrow. I can't believe they are already swearing-in! I feel bad, though- last year since it was the 40th anniversary of Peace Corps Benin, we got to swear-in at the congressional palace with a huge party, and this year the new volunteers are just swaering-in at the bureau! I also recently realized that I have less than eleven months left here in Benin: my friend Catherine and I should be leaving Benin sometime in the first half of August, and we will then go to Morocco for about ten days before heading home. So, I should be home by the end of August!! (Although I won't know exact dates until probably May) Tomorrow John Mark and I will head bac to Lobogo until Sunday, and then return to Cotonou for a Designing Behavior Change workshop we are doing with our homologues next week.
So, I am definitely feeling better than I was, but it's taken a while! I am really sad that I am missing fall colors and a great football season. And I have hardly gotten any phone calls so far... please call! I need it! Miss you all :)

1 comment:

loehrke said...

Yikes!! What an AWFUL "welcome back"!!!!!
I hope the screen is fixed, the smell is really gone and some of the food is recovered. Thank God for Febreeze, the miracle solution to so many problems.
And thank God for friends......the one thing that seems to make life tolerable there.
Take lots of pictures of Dogon country......I'll bet it will be AMAZING!!!
Stay strong, Mark Loehrke (Carly's dad)