Benin Blog Post 1
I landed here in Benin and the air smelled just like the air in Accra—smoky, damp, a hint of ocean. I am happy to be here. Not everything is easy—but things are not as hard as I expected either. My French, while far from perfect is coming, and it is getting better all the time. I think in French, dream in French, and can understand almost everything that is said to me as long as it isn’t too fast. Once my grammar catches up I’ll be flying. My host family is wonderful—a papa and a mamma, one sister who is 22, another who is 13, a 27 year old brother, and a 5 month old grandbaby. My sister is really wonderful and helps me understand Beninese culture and French. The baby smiles all the time and pees/throws up on me a little more than I would like. His affectionate nickname is “villain” in French.
I have a pretty big network now in the little suburb where I live, so I’m always running into someone I know, which I like a lot. Everyone thinks I am hilarious here—not sure exactly why. Sometimes I make a good joke and expect to be laughed at but sometimes I have no idea why everyone is telling me I am such a comedian. I suppose my life is just one big comedy.
Today I played soccer with a bunch of people in Peace Corps and their host brothers and sisters for a few hours. My little sister came with me and it was very fun. I am starting to learn how to smack talk in French. The host brother of one of my friends had told me I was “too fat” to play soccer. Here that is kind of a backhanded compliment. I said I was not in the best shape, but I could definitely play soccer, thankyouverymuch. Today we played against each other and he was very surprised that I was a “good defender.” I asked if I was still too fat to play soccer and he said “Some of your fat must be muscle.” Well.
In other news, I have eaten my weight in pineapple and continue to go to class 6 days a week to get better at French. I am resentful of our one hour lunch break in a culture that values daily siestas and generally has 2-3 hours for lunch—Peace Corps is supposed to facilitate integration! Other than that, things have been run better than I expected, and the people who are working on the ground are generally wonderful. I especially like my French teacher who has a soft spot for American rap and is extremely patient with me.
I have a phone number now as well and if you want it, send me an email or facebook message or ask my parents!
Miss and love everyone!