Sunday, October 28, 2007


I don’t remember if I had already said that the Telefood funding had been approved for my women’s groups in Kouandé. In any case it has been, and we have been getting them ready for it. In domestic news my neighbor died. He had a fatal motorcycle accident. He is survived by his wife, two children and a baby. They moved back south before I returned from working stage. Dead here is so matter of fact. It really reminds you that you can go at any time; there is no guarantee, not for anyone. I did however get a new neighbor, the CBA (The second in charge at the Gendarmes) He is very nice and so is his very large family. They have only been there for a week and have already made me food. It doesn’t take much to win me over. I left post for the regional VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee) meeting and on the way south for the national VAC meeting I stopped in Parakou for Annie’s going away party. This involved a hired covered truck to take us to the auberge, where there was a pool table, beer on tap, dancing and beer pong (with real solo cups) it was a good time. We also took a zemidjan ride through little villages to see the Oueme river, the largest river in Benin (it runs 310 miles or 500km). Another surprise was that in Cotonou we found an exhibition of Jean-Michel Basquiat which was amazing. The art center itself was air conditioned, modern, clean and free! It was nice to do something that you would be able to do back home. Overall it has been a good week and I look forward to getting the money from Telefood to actually start buying things. Hope all is well with you and yours.

-Michael the Dutchman Deep in Bariba Territory

ps- enjoy the new pictures.

Monday, October 08, 2007

My Peugeot 405

You try and remember especially terrible taxis by color or a particular sticker. Usually something like ‘God willing’ or ‘Lazy Man Is a Hungry Man’ or the inexplicable ‘Stop, Don’t Kiss Me’. Sometimes these cars actually have names; names such as ‘Never late’ and ‘God Will Provide II’. The actualization you make is that all the taxis are in all such terrible disrepair that they simply become indistinguishable from one another. These factors could include having a blue car with most of the paint scraped off; or the inside door panel missing with the door handle replaced by a coat hanger like piece of metal. These things simply are not rare enough to be able to tell them apart, and only once on the road and the car breaks down or the driver makes forty stops do you realize why you marked this car for the ‘never ride in again’ one.