After swearing in on Thursday, the new volunteers travelled back to Lokossa where the members of PSN (peer support network) threw us a big party at a local hotel. We all rented out rooms and enjoyed a night full of dancing, drinks and the pool. Having one last night together made saying goodbye a little easier on Friday morning, when the RCH volunteers staying in the south loaded up onto a bus bound for Sé. The northern volunteers had already shipped all of their belongings up north and spent the night together on Lokossa.
Returning to Sé to pack up all of my belongings was somewhat overwhelming, but I managed to get everything sorted in time for Saturday's early departure. On Friday night, the host families threw the remaining volunteers a going away party at Pole Nord with lots of Beninoise (the local beer) and a huge salad. We got to take family photos and say goodbye on last time to some volunteers.
On Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early for some last minute packing, family selfies, and to move everything out of my room to the gate for easy loading. It was a great idea until it started raining, but what's an adventure without a damp mattress? Luckily the rain stopped and my driver showed up within two hours of the scheduled pick up time. We loaded everything into the car, I said goodbye to my host family and we left to pick up Amanda in Hueyogbe.
Amanda was ready when we got there and the driver quickly loaded her stuff onto the roof. She had some tearful goodbyes with her sisters but we were both really excited to be starting the next leg of this adventure. The first three minutes of our drive was uneventful, right until the bikes on the roof took out the power lines between two neighboring houses. We watched as our driver pried the tangled mess apart and within 5 minutes we were back on the road.
The drive up to the Collines is scenic, with long stretches of open road and lush Colline terrain spanning in either direction. It took us a little over 6 hours to get to Adourékoman, which included three car breakdowns (something was wrong with a belt), a quick lunch break and the driver admitting to me that he didn't actually have directions after I questioned why he hadn't turned into my dirt road.
We arrived in Adourékoman to a huge welcoming party of friendly faces who quickly unloaded my belongings into my new home. Since the last time I was here, they have installed new screen windows, screened doors and painted all the walls, not to mention cleaned everything including weeding my backyard. The house looks amazing!! I have a weeks worth of unpacking and organizing to do, but it's a great start.
Wobley is settling in well to his new home. He has taken a liking to playing around in the aloe plants and chasing lizards in the yard. Soon enough he'll be catching mice and stalking spiders!
I received guests until late last night, people who were coming to say hi, bring me food and check out the new and improved house. Everyone has been so incredibly warm and friendly.
Despite having dinner delivered last night by Daniel's life, I didn't want to eat alone, so I wandered back over to his house and stayed to chat for a couple hours with everyone that stopped by. I met the director of a local nursery school and we talked about how we could potentially collaborate in the future.
The first night in my new home was wonderful. I slept like a baby, there were no screaming children outside my door and even the roosters and goats don't bother me after 3 months here in Benin. I woke up to the sound of a crowd gathering in the road, waiting to welcome the new priest to the village for his first mass. I got dressed and joined the group, greeting everyone and accompanied the whole time by Marciano, Sabine's 4 year old who hasn't left my side since my arrival.
When the priest finally arrived 2 hours later, the crowd formed a procession towards the church, where he conducted mass. While I hadn't planned on attending mass today, it was a great way to see everyone, say hi and dance a little.
After mass, I came back home to organize the house before going to Daniels for a late afternoon lunch. As soon as I arrived, the carpenter stopped by to fix my couch and three girls came over to visit. I entertained them as well as I could but was exhausted and wanted to get back to unpacking. I will have to get better at living an interrupted life here.
Adourékoman is absolutely amazing. Tomorrow, I'll head over to the health center in the morning and hopefully go into town to fill my gas tank so I can cook. In the meantime, I have a solar shower hanging for tonight and my solar panels have been cranking along all afternoon so that I can post this tonight. It's back to a simple life, but a life I love!