It was an quasi-eventful weekend here in Sé and at the Goudjinou household. Saturday kicked off with my normal 7:05 wake up call, two hard boiled eggs and piping (not, scalding) cup of jago, which resembles an unsweetened hot chocolate. Leland met me at my gate at 7:32, just on schedule, and we proceeded down our sandy dirt road together towards school.
No one likes Saturday school, even our teachers, so it's clear that they try to make it as enjoyable (bearable) as possible. This weekend, we focused on technical French language to cap up last weeks focus on diarrheal diseases in Benin. In doing so, we learned the proper French words for the fecal matter of almost any animal you can think of: bird is different than cow, which is different than human. Needless to say, we had some fun from the exercise.
After what could have been a crappy morning, our teachers took us on a little field trip to the Pole Nord Hotel bar where they busted out cookies and let us order any soda we wanted (we get excited about the little things here!). They had planned a charades-like activity with a hat full of "americanisms" and wanted us to describe and guess them in French. Things such as a greasy spoon, dog tired, and penny wise but pound foolish, were pulled out of the hat and in the end Crystal, Christy and Emily had collected enough to be deemed the clear winners.
When class was finally dismissed for the weekend, Emily and I stopped at the tailor to order our dresses for the swear in ceremony before continuing home for lunch. I'm really excited about the dress I designed and hope it comes out as well as I drew it (well actually much better because my drawing had no arms and no head). Although my house is usually bustling with kids, chickens and women cooking by the fire, it was oddly quiet, so I took advantage of the situation and got to Skype with my sister in Japan for over an hour, which was a real treat!
After running through my data credit, Emily and I decided to venture to the market. The market here in Sé is every six days, but the Beninese system counts day one as the current market day, so by American counting it is every five days (but we are always confused). The market was mobbed with the after lunch crowd, but we managed to wind our way through the stalls, stopping to look at fabric and buy some fried plantains and fresh cucumbers. Personally, I love market days because it means that my family will prepare a beautiful fresh salad for me!
From the market, we met up with a couple other volunteers to make popcorn and watch a movie. We didn't end up finishing it, but it was nice to spend a quiet afternoon seemingly away from the chaos of the street below. I've realized that these "American moments" are really important to maintaining some level of stability here, as they provide a good escape from the constant noise (goats, kids, chickens and strangers) and cultural confusion.
I returned home on Saturday to help my family prepare dinner, watch some tv with my brother and thoroughly sweep my room-- I don't know how it always seems like it was under attack from a sand monster.
Unfortunately the concept of sleeping in hasn't made it to Benin, so I was woken on Sunday morning at 8:05 by loud knocking on my door and a host brother who was worried I was sick. When I emerged from my room, my grandmother laughed at the idea of sleeping through the roosters and was very concerned that my hot water would get too cold to drink for breakfast. As usual, it was still scalding and my boiled eggs were still lukewarm. In an attempt to quietly integrate with my family and enjoy a lazy Sunday, I took out a coloring book and Eddy and I spent the next two hours coloring, fighting over colored pencils and subsequently shredding our drawings. But what else can I expect from a two year old?
After spending some time attempting to pack up my room, Emily came over to cook lunch and hang out. We whipped up some amazing Mac and cheese with some real American cheddar cheese powder and favored every bite. As we were finishing up, my grandma came into the room with a sac, tied at the top, that contained something wriggling at the bottom. When I asked why the bag was moving, she produced a tiny kitten on a leash that she had just bought at the market to solve our mouse problem. At first, I was delighted to have a new cat in the house, but almost immediately, all hell broke loose as all the kids started sobbing and my sister ran away from the kitten in pure terror. The cat, which my grandma was now dangling from its neck, continued to meow innocently and my heart melted.
And that's how I became a crazy cat lady here in Benin. When it was clear that my family was in no way ready to own a cat, I quickly whisked up the little fur ball and created a nice little home for him in my room. I named him Wobleoh, the Mina word for "Faire doucement," the English equivalent to take it easy, be careful or slow it down. The Beninese use doucement for everything, so it was only fitting that little Wobley's (every cat needs a nickname) name reflected his Sé upbringing and Beninese lifestyle.
I'm happy to report that Wobley is doing well, eating everything (including paté) and is already litter trained (cats are amazing). He cuddled with me all night long and cries when he's not being held. Luckily, we only have another 11 days before we can finally get settled in our new rural abode in Adourékoman and have a place to call home.
This is the final countdown to swear in and life as a real Peace Corps Volunteer!