Blogs from Athiémé, South, Benin, Africa

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Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé March 3rd 2012

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé May 28th 2008

In the last week of my Peace Corps Volunteer experience in Benin, I realize I have not yet posted these photos. I might even have some more later... I went exploring in the ruins of Athieme. I went the first time randomly, and without the camera. The second time I went, someone warned me that snakes like to hang out in ruins, so the dogs accompanied. I was assuming a snake would find the dogs before me. The other photos are of things dear to me- mangoes and small children.... read more
athieme ruins
athieme ruins
athieme ruins

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé April 8th 2008

I attended my third All-Volunteer conference with Peace Corps in Benin. We were in the big city for two and a half days of meetings. Peace Corps houses us for these wonderful three nights in a nice hotel on the ocean. We slept and met in air-conditioning, bathed in hot water, swam in the full length swimming pool and dived from its platforms, stayed up all night talking and dancing, and drank a lot of coffee to stay awake and warm in the air-conditioning. The first day we brainstormed and criticized the functioning of the Peace Corps office and the demands and expectations of and from the Volunteers. A Peace Corps Volunteer is in a unique position because we must take our work seriously and represent the Peace Corps Mission, all the while not always having ... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé April 8th 2008

With elections approaching I find myself much more often with Beninese friends who have satellite television. Via satellite I can follow the American presidential campaign. Fortunately I don’t have to bribe them with cake to be allowed to watch; even they are interested in the campaign process. Benin is also preparing for elections, so my friends and I profit from the news by discussing political systems in Benin and in America. My friend Mathurin, who I also call Mr. Know-it-All, is a candidate for elections, and is my well-informed resource on the Beninese political system. I am not as qualified of a resource on the American system, but I do my best. As a Peace Corps Volunteer I am apolitical, but I am interested in the comparisons between the two systems. Thus I do a little ... read more
Mango
Same Tree but Closer
Erika at Work

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé April 8th 2008

Athiémé celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th of March at the secondary school’s playing fields. The basketball and handball teams, the two sports with girls’ included, had prepared the courts for the games, which meant that the courts had actually been drawn in, the lines scratched out with a hoe. We set up a tent at each court for the spectators and hauled the benches and chalkboards from the school. No matter how many times I mentioned it, we were still missing the water buckets by game time. I finally yelled and water appeared in buckets on a couple of people’s heads for the teams. The teams were scheduled to arrive at noon for lunch before the games began at 15h. Two of three teams were on time, the third arriving two hours late. But ... read more
Handball
Basketball
Girls Basketball

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé January 25th 2008

I hadn’t slept well and still woke up early. I decided to go to morning mass at 7h, as a means to get out of the house and in search of motivation. Arrived at the church I discovered there was no mass for some reason, so I turned to walk home. I decided to take the short path that passes through light brush from the river to the church. As I passed a smaller path that lead away from town into more fields, I wondered what was beyond and said to myself that someday I would follow it. Then I double-backed on my steps saying there was no reason that someday couldn’t be today. The path first lead along the river through a defeated corn field, nothing more than beaten down grass showing me the ... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé January 25th 2008

I never expected to eat a chicken head, but as I studied the bone structure of my meal in the twilight of the 2nd of January, 2008, I discovered that chicken-head meat is pleasant. I refrained from gnawing on the eye sockets, but everything else went down well. Since December 25th, 2007, I have more often than not only needed to eat every other day, finished with a cup of coffee for digestion while sitting in a pagne for a bathrobe as waistline relief. On Christmas Day I visited my host family. I was greeted as warmly as ever, given the customary water to drink, and then began eating. Oh, and such good foods- Santa Claus-belly-sized pots of rice with well-spiced sauces and goat meat, beans and fresh bread, and salad with a homemade mayonnaise dressing, ... read more
Inauguration
The New Palace
View from Above

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé January 5th 2008

When I was a little kid I spent a lot of time playing in the dirt. I eventually had a backboard to shoot hoops, but it was on our gravel driveway; to this day I can make a basket like an ace but I dribble like my only fingers are left-hand thumbs- though not said to be ungrateful, Dad. I was able to make do up to a point, but I only really learned the game of basketball when I joined the junior high basketball team and had instruction and a flat surface. The local basketball teams here are in a similar position as I was as a beginning basketball player. We have made-do with what we have, but have reached the point that to really improve the game, we need better equipment. For more ... read more
Dribbling
After Dribbling
Shooting

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé December 21st 2007

For a change, I am reporting and commenting on observations I made in the school yard of the central primary school in my town. There are two schools in one compound, and my good friend Mathurin is the director for one school and the superior of the second school’s director. There are about 400 students in my friend’s school, divided between six classes and eight teachers. Roughly double that for the total number of students and teachers in the compound. Students come to school by 8h and sweep out the classrooms and erase the chalkboards, and classes start by 8h30. Lunch break starts at noon, and the students and teachers go home until just before 3p.m. The day ends at 5:30 p.m. And no school on Wednesday evenings; in this French school system, Wednesday evenings are ... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé December 21st 2007

I awoke from my nap thinking, ‘I might like some coffee.’ My next thought was, ‘Coffee? Are you ill Erika? It’s the middle of the afternoon!’ A third and more coherent thought was, ‘Oh, the breeze picked up. I feel cooler. That’s why I dreamt of coffee.’ I stretched, woke up Bubs who was lying beside me, and kicked us both off the mat. The best nap spot in my home is on the mat in front of the wide-open double doors, with the curtains drawn. I pull the curtains so that visitors can act like they don’t see me sleeping, and I can act like I am not seen. Sometimes the breeze pushes the curtains so far inside that they brush the arm thrown over my face, or the pulled-up knee, and I awake enough ... read more




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