Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Grass is Always Greener

After four days in Benin, three of which were largely spent in a hotel conference room, I’ve decided that Benin is a more advanced version of Togo. Then again, the Benin volunteers heard Togo was a better version of Benin, but I bet none of them ever tried to get from the south to the north of Togo in one day. And we did that almost effortlessly in their country.

The conference was interesting, and I’d like to incorporate some of what I learned in my work. One afternoon we prepared recipes we created, which had to contain a certain amount of calories and protein. My group made mango porridge, which is less delicious than it sounds, but better than I expected.

The evening the conference ended, some Benin volunteers took us to see hippos. One of the volunteers, Holley, works with a guide there who does these tours. For about $2.00 (not including the roundtrip moto ride), the guide leads you down a path to a lake, then escorts you around in a large canoe for as long as you want. It’s so peaceful and beautiful, especially in the evening, that I didn’t care if we saw the hippos. We did, but again, I have no pictures, as it’s unwise to get close enough for pictures (at least with the zoom on my camera). At the end of the tour, the guide gives everyone a shot of sodabi (local liquor that feels like it’s burning holes in your esophagus) and the chance to sign the “livre d’or” – the Book of Gold, which is a school notebook.

On Friday morning, we left Lokossa around 8:00 a.m. in a bush taxi organized by two Benin PCVs. We arrived in Bohicon just in time to catch a bus north to Natitingou, where we took another taxi to the Togolese border. The whole trip was amazingly easy, with minimal harassment and only one long wait for a taxi in Natitingou, which we spent at an internet café.

So that was a fun and educational little trip. Coming back to Savanes was amazing, because it rained a few times, and it looks like spring, all green everywhere. It still feels like summer, though, and my heat rash came back in all its prickly redness the first night in Togo. I just keep telling myself it’s going to cool down soon. I’ll let you know how that works out.

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