My adventures serving in the Peace Corps

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The end is near

As in, I fly out of Benin four weeks from tomorrow, and am about to head back to my village for the last time. It is seriously unbelieveable. I recently had my end of the year staff meeting (lasted 6 hours... for all the things I'll miss, that won't be one of them!!), and my Camp GLOW final report was turned in and approved, so I am officially done with my work. I've also finished most of my COS documents.
Now, all that's left is packing up some things in my house, and saying goodbye to people. For as excited as I am to be done and come home, I am REALLY not looking forward to the upcoming goodbyes and leaving my village. It is going to be so hard to leave some of these people, and oh lord, my cats. I get choked up just thinking about it. On the 30th I'm having a small goodbye party (which I have to pay for myself, even though other people TOLD me I was having it... gotta love Benin0, and I'll leave Lobogo sometime between the 4th and the 7th. I fly out of Benin the night of the 11th, and land in Detroit at 4:35 pm on Thursday the 12th! I'll have a day or two at home, then head to the west side of the state for four or five days of R&R.
I know you're still waiting for pictures from Camp GLOW, and of my last few weeks here; I've decided that I will load them all once I'm home, and I have Internet that is fast :)
I'll leave you with this lovely anecdote, another sure sign that it's time for me to get outta here:
Sunday, I was coming down to Cotonou with a kitten in a box on my lap: I was bringing it down for another volunteer who is taking it. All was well until we were in the suburbs of Cotonou and there was a detour since they were doing some road work on the main road. We turned off on the detour to see a huge line of cars in front of us at a standstill, so my driver decided to try and find another route rather than waiting. As we turned a corner, there was a small LAKE of standing water in front of us, one that had been there since May when the rainy season started, and contained many goodies such as dead chickens, feces, and trash. We all told the driver not to try it, but he did anyways. Our car was promptly inundated with the water that turned out to be 3 or 4 feet deep, and we all got SOAKED. The car immediately died, and the driver rushed off to find help. The other passengers and I had to basically swim through the sewer water to get to a shallow spot. Meanwhile, it's taking everything I have in my not to lose my lunch, and I still have a kitten in a box.
The kitten was getting restless, so I decided to take my things and go look for a zem somewhere. By some small miracle, my backpack was on top of all of the other luggage in the trunk, and it was the only thing that was not completely soaked. (Other things in the trunk included baskets of tomatoes and bread that some of my fellow passengers were hopeing to sell in the market...) As I started off, an old man saw me and offered to direct me to the road, and I gladly accepted. Unfortunately, the route to the road included a 25 foot stretch of path through a flooded city garbage heap, and the smell was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I really don't think I have ever been so disgusted. To top things off, the old man harrassed me for money since he helped me, and then on the zemidjan, my dress flew up, exposing my entire thigh, probably the most sexualized part of the body here. The kitten was trying desperately to get out of the box, so I couldn't afford to move my hands and fix it. As we were pulling away from a stoplight, a man on the zem next to mine reached out an brushed my thigh. SO nasty. Absolutely made my skin crawl. Needless to say, it wasn't one of my better days here in Benin. (Don't worry, I saw the doctors and took about ten hot showers as soon as I got to the bureau)


loehrke said...

Great story.
Oh Benin.
So much to love and so much to make you sick to your stomach.
West side of the state, eh??
We will be gone to Colorado from August 8-15 (luckily for us, coinciding with Jessica Bruce's arrival!!!) but we will be back on the 16th. Let us know if we can come and see you (alas, Carly will not be part of the group: she travels to China on the 16th as soon as she gets back. She is joining Alex for his post COS trip over there).
If not, I have the feeling that we will be seeing you sometime soon!!!
Finish strong, Mark Loehrke (Carly's dad)

Catherine said...

EWWWWWWW. what a great ending note, huh? lol. definitely one of those things you'll look back on with this semi-fond sense of absurdity.

Miss you a ton!!! Can't wait to talk soon. Stay strong, you're almost there. You've been so strong and amazing for your whole service and should be so proud. Dude...we are so visiting michelle next spring n'est pas?? please say yes. i can't wait to see you!

Angelina said...

Mark- yeah, it might be possible to meet up sometime the week of the 16th! maybe that thursday or friday? we'll be in touch!

Catherine- we're ABSOLUTELY visiting michelle.