Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Collines Galore. . .

What I've seen of Benin's landscape so far isn't that fantastically gorgeous. I do, however, enjoy every time that I pass through the Collines (the hills) region every time I go south to Cotonou. Recently I visited super volunteer, Rachel, in a Colline village on her last day at post. I've always wanted to climb a one of these large granite hills, so we did.

From Colline

From Colline

Monday, September 7, 2009

Adrien Au Sud. . .

My two weeks of stage have come to an end in an odd way. Earlier this summer, I told Adrien if he could find the money to come south, I would pay for his return. So, against all odds, Adrien arrived in Porto-Novo Friday night. He stayed at my host family’s house for two nights, and then we spent one night in Cotonou.

What’s the big deal? Take a look at the map of Benin. Adrien had never traveled much further south than Tchaourou (not to far from my village). In other words, he’s never seen a building of more than 4 or 5 floors. He’s never been to a real supermarket, seen an airport, stayed in a hotel, used a modern shower or seen the ocean (or a beach, or a boat, etc). That is until now!

Sharing the south with Adrien has been very rewarding for me. Just as having him around in village helps to open my eyes to the African experience, showing him the south has helped me to realize how small his world really is – and how that must challenge him (and others in school). You can talk about the ocean at school, but if you’ve never been to it, you’re not really going to understand it- the heavy waves, the vastness, the smooth sandy beaches.

Because I was working in Porto-Novo, Adrien wandered around a lot. The first day, we did a tour of Songhai, the agricultural school that promotes new farming ideas and agricultural subsistence. Adrien is a farmer at heart, so this interested him greatly.

As soon as we checked into our hotel in Cotonou, we took a moto-taxi to the beach. He loved it. He was amazed by it. He gets it now. He's even taking a bottle of saltwater and some shells back to show people. Then we went to Festival de Glace and had hamburgers and ice cream.

From porto novo and cotonou with adrien

Before catching the bus today back north, we checked out a few other interesting sights. We went to the Ganhi Market, saw the port where boats were docked and being unloaded, saw the airport and a little bit of an airplane, and went to Erevan, the new Super-Target style store – the first of it’s kind in Benin.

Seeing his eyes open - his world shaken a bit- made all the small sacrifices I made worth it. I wish I could do this for everyone I know!

From porto novo and cotonou with adrien