A weekend in Cotonou. A weekend with air-conditioning, electricity, WARM running water, burgers and ice cream, walking on the beach, internet, animal planet. I needed this time in Cotonou… to remind me I didn’t come here for this. To remind me that while I’m lounging on a soft fluffy couch in a clean, cool room watching hi-def TV one of my work partners is cleaning up garbage in her village – in OUR village. I have a temporary home in Benin, and it’s not here.
Sometimes I hate Benin. I hate it’s hot climate, it’s ugly music, and it’s stinking lack of a waste disposal system. I hate how slow it is at everything, and how it can’t seem to get it’s act together anywhere. But sometimes I love it, and gradually the days when I love it are out-numbering the days when I hate it. I love it’s crazy local languages, it’s goat population, it’s market madness. I love the children who shout “Madame Monsieur!” at me when I go walking down the street, and they aren’t sure if I’m a woman or a man because I’m wearing pants. And if I don’t love being constantly stared and laughed at, I certainly appreciate the humility it engenders in me.
I made the trek to Cotonou from my village – a 190-mile trip which took a motorcycle and two taxi vans a whopping 9 hours to accomplish on roads that look more like dried-up river beds then anything we’d call drive-able in the United States – to bring my dog to a vet who could get her spayed. And it’s been nice being here, but for the first time since coming to Benin, instead of feeling reluctant to head back to post after a weekend away, I’m itching to get out of here. I’m ready to stop being so often lazy and cynical at post and to start making things happen. Of course, it’s easy to say that as I sit here on a plush, spinny chair in the computer lounge at the Peace Corps bureau… but really. I’m ready this time. So pray for me. Pray that God gives me an unrelenting love for the people he’s putting in my life so I can be an effective agent for positive change during the rest of my Peace Corps service. Sometimes 27 months feels like forever, but it’s not. I have a limited window of opportunity here before it will be time to come home. And when all is said and done, I don’t want to just have interesting stories to tell, I want to leave with the knowledge that I truly let God’s love show through my actions and interactions with people here in Benin.
Allons-y! Let’s go!