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Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé
December 10th 2007
Published: December 10th 2007
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‘Sit in your yard and watch the leaves fall.’ Dove Dark Chocolate Promise.


Yes, the front porch with a book and a breeze is all well and good until you’ve done it for a week. Sorry Dove- I don’t mean to be bitter, but all I have been doing is sitting. I wish I only had a moment to watch the leaves fall, rather than that being my main activity. This first week back at post after the States was harder than I thought it would be. I was lonely as I had never felt it before. I had been used to living alone of course, before my vacation, but after being constantly with family and friends in the U.S., I was jolted by the return to a lack of conversation in my home. No matter how much time I spent with someone, I was back to being alone in my home. I have since equilibrated, but talk out loud to the dogs more and listen to anything on shortwave. An extension with the Peace Corps does not include a room- or housemate. I have plenty of those as dogs and lizards, but none who discuss or take turns cooking or running errands. Dogs are great, and do speak, but mostly eat and sleep.

Secondly, I experienced delayed reverse-culture shock, which is shock upon re-entry in the U.S. Only when I had returned to Benin did I notice that Americans have a lot of stuff, not a fault but a fact, and I especially noticed the food stuffs. There is always food in the pantry and the refrigerator; not everything has to be fresh and eaten right then. In the U.S. I could have bacon and eggs for breakfast, both of them. Later in the day meat could be the main course in a meal. Just meat. There is a lot of food in Benin, and I eat a lot of it, but never meat for a main course and ingredients are as fresh as possible. There is always a carbohydrate such as corn flour pate or rice or bread, eaten with a sauce that always includes tomatoes, onions, garlic, and other seasonings. Salad, that is any combination of vegetables, is for special occasions. And gas, fuel, is expensive and rare enough, always changing prices and often sold out. (Even right next to Nigeria!) If the world’s source of fuel must change to be environment-friendly, it should still be rather easy to come by or else places like Benin will have even more problems with transportation and economic development by construction, etc.

Third, I know I had work lined up before leaving, but I must have shuffled something because I didn’t relocate it right away. Only today, a week after my return, have I actually been part of a work activity. Sickening, isn’t it? No Dove, be grateful for a moment watching leaves fall. If more than a moment, falling leaves are just boring. Today, I became once again an active part of the waste management project. This evening I play basketball with the many, many new team members, noticeably the girls. I do love basketball. Not only have I found work, but I found good work!


“Press your favorite leaves inside a book.” Dove Dark Chocolate Promise.


No kidding, second Dove of the day and this time speaking the truth. I will press some leaves, if only figuratively via this entry, to remember this week of wrenching readjustment. Today I slipped back into the groove of the pace of life and volunteer work in Benin. Once busy again here, and more so in America, I will appreciate all of the moments I watch falling leaves, assuming those moments are few enough to be appreciated.


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11th December 2007

Falling Leaves vrs. Ice Storm
We miss you!! Bob just ordered the MEAT for Christmas at Grandma's. A Midwest Ice/Winter Storm is settling in for the night/days???. Glad we have a small generator!!!! Love, Aunt Donna
11th December 2007

Today is blah day. Gray skies. Appreciate your non-gray winter sky. Rain. Sleet. Ice. Gross. Sent ya a letter today. Hope you get it by Christmas.

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