Monday, July 24, 2006

In Afrika

I am writing you from the lovely county of Benin in West Africa. I met up with the other Benin Peace Corps volunteers (PCV acronyms are very Peace Corp (PC) in Philadelphia. We spent 2 days in meetings going over expectations, policies, and methods of integration. Overall it was very academic and abstract. We were given $180 for our meals and incidentals over those 2 days, This involved getting to know the other peace corps volunteers over lunch, dinner and drinks. In total there are 59 PVC's. They are mostly very nice and interesting people coming from all over the country. We traveled out of Philadelphia airport via Paris to Cotonou, this took about 24 hours. Once we arrived (delayed of course) we were greeted with a humid climate in a place that felt very far away from the western world. The people wearing local tissue fabrics speaking in either French or a indecipherable language. The dress can be made locally for about 8000 CFA. We made it to the compound in Cotonou where we are staying and they had some of the current PCVs waiting cheering us on and help us with our bags to our rooms. We has a quick bite to eat and were left to sleep (under mosquito netting). In the morning I was woken up by a small boy peering into the room, I realized that I was defiantly in Africa. This feeling was enforced by seeing the country in daylight. We spent the day getting to know some of the leaders, administration, policies, medical details, and even the American ambassador showed up for a few minutes and spoke. He was leaving the next day, finishing his posting in Benin. The rest of the day we were bussed into the city again on one of the 5 paved roads to the Peace Corps building. Driving down the road was amazing, stands all down the road, people selling things everywhere. Although it appeared that no one was buying anything, all wearing colorful local fabrics. The road filled with mopeds and French cars. I keep thinking of infernetto as we were driving in the city. At the office we were tested in French, had our next round of shots, and were fitted for a brand new bicycle, bicycle helmet, and motorcycle helmet. It really is amazing to be here, a couple times a day something really grips you and reminds you that you are in a very different place from where you grew up. The next couple days will be spent here in Cotonou, soon I will be leaving with the other EA (environment) people to Parma located about 15km north of Nititengou. Where we will spend the next 9 months training and living with a host family. Internet access might be difficult and speratic. I will be able to receive packages, padded envelopes are the best. Hint hint. I hope everything is going well with all of you and I will try to keep you updated with my adventure here in Africa.

Much Love,

Michael.

1 comment:

mama reynolds said...

Michael,
I am excited to hear about your adventures. Stay safe,
Irene