In spite of the heat, the holidays are here… I see hints of it daily: extravagant hairstyles and outfits, alcohol stands more abundant, the odd decoration or kid running around stark naked aside from his Kaleta mask.

And so it is, Kaleta and Christmas have come and gone, and I spent this past week in bed, battling the seemingly inevitable cold that plagues me every year! So after much too much time in my room, new years is closer than ever and I have had a reasonable amount of time to consider 2011. It has been a transient year… sadly said goodbye to the Warsaw house and roommates, took on a job in the NWT with great people and adventures (not to mention a wonderful closet to sleep in!), then back to Winnipeg living on Coventry. Brad moved to Regina in the spring so that I could better acquaint myself with Greyhound busses… much to my dismay! Other than going there, I spent the summer relishing in monday night darts, the company of my family, another season playing soccer with the Honeybadgers and enjoying more “last days” at Fisheries.

But, to the focus of ze blog, back to Africa. Sometimes I can’t think of anything to write, because things have become pretty normal here. Then I come home and accidentally eat intestine. Thus follows is “how far I’ve come” here in Ouidah.

1) I no longer fall in sewage holes, and can even navigate the roads on a moving object (read: bike). I do, however, still have a scar on my shin to commemorate that first day.
2) *Most* men stopping to “talk” to me in the street don’t even phase me anymore. I have calculated my responses: when to ignore, when to distract, when to raaave about my darling husband waiting for me at home this very instant, when to raise my voice, and -most importantly- when to agree to marriage. (Note: that only happened once, and we’ll marry in six years since he’ll be 12 by then.)
3) I can eat a really spicy meal without toilet paper on hand (take that for what you will)
4) I have mastered the handshake snap thing they do here
5) I have adopted Beninoise nuances in french…

-“vwwaaaaahhhhla” Voilà– said whenever I accomplish something incredible, like opening a jar.
-“Ou bien!” Often its own statement, often tagged to the end of sentences
-“…quoi” End of all the sentences that dont end in “Ou bien!”
-“Swante dix” Thats 70. All “soixantes” have become “swantes”
-“TRES interessante!” Anything good is interessante. Food, prices, fashion, n’importe quoi.
-“doucement” What I once considered to mean softly is no more. Doucement is now ‘sorry’ or ‘be careful’: dictionary, “je m’excuses” and “désolé” begone!
6) I dont mean to brag, but I have a really badass “I have no change” face. (I think the change situation in Ouidah will need an entry entirely of its own)

But of course, right when Im feeling cocky and fancy myself quite the assimilated foreigner, a mouse sneaks into my room and Im cowering on my bed texting my little sister for advice.

*Sigh…long ways to go…


Went to see Bertille the other day to drop off some baby formula, glad to report things are going well there. In the 5 weeks since we last visited, she has saved 5000 CFA, so ten dollars, which is on track since she commited to 2500 every two weeks. A good start! At the moment, Im thinking the next donations will be going to the Right to Play program, where we play games with disadvantaged kids & youth to teach them life skills as well as health education. The coaches that we oversee don’t have any materials to use for the games, so they are limited in the games that they can play. We’ll be putting together a game pack which will have things like a soccer ball, cones, hula hoop and others. More details once thats in action.

All in all, happy new year friends!