My adventures serving in the Peace Corps
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Peace Corps Prom
Leaving for Ghana tomorrow! Since I have a bit of time, I thought I'd do a quick blog on our GAD (gender and development) fundraising weekend, with pictures of course! There is a married couple with Beninese flag themed outfits, the four of us in the Mono region spelling it out our pile of helmets, and yes, that is a hamburger that was made in a waffle iron... oh Benin.
The shuttle ride up in the Peace Corps SUV wasn't nearly as awesome as I had hoped: I was in the back row where the air conditioning didn't hit and we were packed in like sardines, with no leg room. By the time we reached Parakou (after 7 hours) my butt was totally numb. We checked into our hotel, where we were told we had made reservations for the wrong night (we hadn't), and that they didn't have a second bed for us, only a matress for the floor. I guess if we were in America/were not Peace Corps volunteers we would have been enraged by this, but a matress is a matress, right? :)
Dinner Friday night was good. It was in a casual, club-like atmosphere. We had a short talent show and date auction, then people started dancing. The date auction is neat, people auction off things like "an all-American" weekend where you eat pizza and play football, or go hiking through a sacred monkey forest, or a full body massage, etc. So, 100% of the profits go to GAD! Unfortunately, I think I ate some not-so-sanitary street meat earlier in the day, so I left pretty early to go chill in our (air conditioned, thank god) hotel room.
On Saturday I was tired and still not feeling so hot, so I decided to take advantage of our air conditing and just hang out for most of the day. Getting ready with a bunch of girls was really fun- so nice getting cleaned up and pretty for once here! The night was really nice, everyone looked gorgeous and the silent auction was full of goodies, though I didn't bid since I wanted to save my money for Ghana! We had a nice pool-side dinner by candlelight, though instead of beef bourgognone on a bed of homemade noodles like they had promised we got beef stew on a bed of white rice :( People danced the rest of the night away, and there was the requisite throwing of everyone into the pool. All in all two good nights of fundraising, raising about $7000 for GAD small projects here in Benin!
Sunday was a pretty miserable day of travel. It started off with the man who worked at the hotel (and barely spoke a WORD of French) telling us that we needed to pay WAY more than I was told on the phone, and when I refused, he asked me if I would just give it to him as a "present". Then, we had paid for a nice air conditioned bus, and instead got an old bus with no AC, no shades to block out the sun, and no cargo hold, so we had to bring ALL of our baggage on the bus, making it super crowded and hot and uncomfortable. (Of course, no price reduction was offered because of these inconveniences...)When we arrived in Bohicon, the zems absolutely refused to give us the right price so we had to stand around in the baking midday sun waiting for some decent zems. When we finally took off, my zem was stopped by some village crazy where he promptly started yelling at me that I was going to marry him, spitting the soy cheese he was eating all over me, and of course my driver just thought it was funny. We once again had mean zems in Azove, topped off with a mean taxi and another long zem ride back to my village, all on a BAKING hot day. Then, as the icing on that cake of a day, there was no power in my village for the next 48 hours. That meant that none of the water pumps worked (let alone a fan), and since it is the end of the dry season, most of the wells were dry... meaning there was NO WATER in Lobogo. None. I'm serious. Even the Beninese people were starting to freak out. I mean, that is so dangerous! Nevermind all of the incredibly smelly people, we couldn't even drink water on a day where the temperature was easily over 105.
Another great Benin story: today there was a taxi that refused to stop at a police checkpoint (where they usually have to pay a bribe), and so the police shot at the car, making the car burst into flames, and many of the people in the car died. I have been in TONS of taxis that haven't stopped at checkpoints, so that's pretty scary. It's sad because it's not the fault of any of the passengers. I'm telling you, I love Benin, but I will be ready to COS when the time comes (only 4 months! Requested a date of early August today).
Now I'm in Cotonou and we leave early in the morning for GHANA! Ghana, the promised land of West Africa, complete with bowling, sushi, air conditioned taxis... amazing! I will take lots of pictures that should be on my next blog! Have a happy Easter everyone!