Goodbye Azovè, Hello Houègbo

Trip Start Jul 05, 2005
1
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Benin  ,
Sunday, September 25, 2005

**Big sigh** What a "long" day...even though it's only 9pm and I'm already going to bed.

I woke up at 7:30 and packed up the rest of my things. We took family photos before Maman, Papa, and Vince left for some special mass in Lokossa. I gave everyone their gifts; they all seemed pleased.

Tante took me to a photographer's at 9:30. The chauffer (aka taxi driver) was coming at 11am. After the photo shoot, Tante and I went to the marché so I could buy my basins that I had debated about buying yesterday. I figured 3,000CFA each wasn't such a bad deal considering they are good quality and I'll be using them everyday for 2 years.

When we arrived back at the house, the chauffer was already there waiting. It was only 10:30, so he was early....very shocking considering he's Beninese. Maybe the PC Coordinator told him to arrive at 9:30, in consideration that he'd actually show up by 11 then.

So, I rushed to get my things and start hauling it out to the car, but instead the driver told me to eat lunch and let the kids in the family move everything. Antoinette had made the pot/pâte I requested for my last meal there....I figured I won't be making that meal myself anytime soon, so I may as well eat it one last time.

I left Azovè at 11, as scheduled. The car ride was a bit shakey-litterally. There was something wrong with the car, as with most cars in this country. When we arrived in the city just outside of Houègbo, the driver pulled over to see if I knew where to go once we got into town. Unfortunately, the curb was a bit high and he scraped his muffler on the ground when pulling back onto the road. (I don't know why he had to pull over to ask me this question to begin with, but whatever.) The car was SO LOUD; everyone was staring. The route between Azovè and Houègbo is filled with pot holes too, so that wasn't helping matters at all. I'm surprised the car made it all the way.

When I got into my community, I told the chauffer to stop at the Arrondissment (the town hall like building), but no one was there-just 2 guards. Then I remembered it was Sunday, so I should have expected no one to be there.

Next stop was my new house. Luckily, I remembered the way there. Standing at the intersection of my side street and the main street, was my Homologue. I was wondering how I was going to get the keys to my house, so I was really relived to find her there waiting for me. She had been there since 9am, not knowing what time I was arriving. She informed me that she tried to come to my Swear-In Ceremony, but thought it was in Azovè. So, the poor lady was sitting in Azovè the whole day I was in Lokossa!

The house is surprisingly in better shape than I thought it'd be! The proprietor fixed the front stoop, put on screen doors, put up the window screens, cleaned the flors, cemented the shower, and cleaned out the "kitchen" (a closet basically)! Oh, and there are lights in the sockets too! As for water, there is a cistern that looks a little shady, and my latrine is across the consession-without doors, but the entrance is in the back so no one can see in....supposedly doors are on the way. Definitely a downgrade from my host family's house, but not as bad as what I was expecting.

Augustine and I went to the marché b/c I needed some stuff. We ran into Meredith, my postmate. So, we all went to the marché together. I told Augustine I needed stainless steal plates and bowls, so she located those for me...after a lengthy search. Oh, Stacy called me while I was doing my shopping. My first phone call on my new cell phone!

Back at home, Augustine told some kid to go get me a bucket of water from the faucet for drinking. It cost me 25CFA, but that's definitely worth not having to haul it myself. In this country, kids are to do whatever it is you ask them to do. It's not odd to make a random kid go and do something for you.

I was sooo exhausted, and didn't feel like cooking dinner for myself. Thankfully, Grandma A. had mailed me a package with easy-to-prepare foods in it! I had a rice, chedder, and broccoli mix for dinner. It was so good!

Maman, Papa, Sonja called me before dinner (2nd phone call on my new phone) to see if I made it ok. They thanked me again for the gifts and invited me to come home for Christmas or New Year's.

After dinner, I had to set up my bed with mosquito netting. Yucko...didn't want to spend energy doing that....but didn't want bugs crawling on me during the night either. Setting it up actually went pretty smoothly, thankfully.

Stacy called me back at 9pm like I had asked. I didn't want to try talking to her while I was walking around the marché, too many people and too much noise.

It's 10:33pm. I'm going to sleep. It's so quiet-weird. I've never lived by myself before. I'm glad I received some phone calls tonight to keep me company.

Tomorrow, I hope to clean a LOT. The walls need some serious scrubbing with bleach water.

Aaww, sucky...I have to get out of bed to turn of the light. In my host family house, my bed was right next to the switch. At least I have electricity though...
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