Hey, so its been a while since my last update. The biggest news since my last post would have to be that my family visited (mom, dad and my sister). They were delayed in Paris and missed the connection and had to spend 2 days in Paris, one of which was spent sightseeing. During this time I was already in the capital Cotonou and stayed in the hotel waiting for them to arrive. I did get a chance to meet the new FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) representative to Benin. He is a great guy and not only in a position to be able to do good things but very knowledgeable in Agroforestry. I hope to collaborate with FAO and possibly work on a TeleFood funded project in the future. It was a great shock for me to travel from the north to the south. On the 7 hour bus ride you could see the countryside change from very dry and dusty to very green and lush. It also is very humid, and as my dad can testify to dry heat is bearable its the humidity that kills you. Since this was my first time being in Cotonou since I arrived in country 7 months ago, it was a bigger shock to be in a real city. Things like showers with hot water, AC, and TV. Restaurants are also strange to be in after eating street food for so long. The problem with spending time in the city is that everything is so much more expensive than at village. You can easily spend 10 times more on just about everything. When my family finally did arrive we spent a week in the south where we went on day trips to Genvie (A town that is built on stilts in the lagoon) and Ouidah (where the slave route is and the port of no return). We rented a car then drove up north. We spent a night in Kouande then headed up to the Penjari national park. We stayed a night in the park and saw lots of animals. Elephants, antelopes (there are at least 6 different variations), baboons, rese monkeys, crocodiles, hippos, all kinds of birds, warthogs, and water buffalo. It was very cool to see the elephants in their natural habitat. We saw a heard of elephants that were going to get a drink at the lake and one of the guides was bothering the elephants and getting one of them to charge him. I caught it with my camera, hopefully you will be able to see it on uTube soon. After the park we went to visit my post again and had a party for the 'importants' and to give my parents a chance to meet some of the people I work and socialize with. It went well even with all the uninvited people. I said goodbye to my family yesterday evening and left them in Nati, they continued on to Cotonou and will fly home tomorrow.
In more work related news some of volunteers closest to me and I are planning a girls camp in Ouassa Pheunco. We are getting some assistance with a local womans group to try and give the camp some sustainability. The camp will be for girls about 13 years old and for a week. It will focus on womens empowerment, health, choices, team building and there should be some fun in there too. I have been working with a local gardener and have been planing to run some Moringa education sessions in time for the rainy season so they can plant and cultivate the leaves for better nutrition. Thats been it for now. There should be some new pictures up check out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dutchpants/
my parents put up some pictures too.