I have arrived!

Benin is completely different than anywhere Ive been before. Things operate at a much slower pace here (including my typing on a french keyboard) as well as a much more sociable pace: I have attempted to use the internet every day since arriving, yet today is my first true success! There are several cafes but sometimes the power is out, the connection is down, it takes too long walking here (I am usually greeted by everyone in the street, sometimes to chat for a while. Our record is an hour to do a 20 minute walk), one time I fell in a drainage hole & had to go home (so glamorous!!)… a whole host of excuses.

I am living with the exchange manager, Jules as well as a girl from New Zealand, Amber. The weekend was fun, Amber and I explored Ouidah and I started to figure out my way around town which is not an easy feat without a map or street names. Everyone gets around by memory and motos (scooter), or in my case, walking.

Usually I wake up to the roosters crowing around six, then put my earplugs in for another hour or two until the neighbours wake up. Then Amber or I will walk to get a fresh baguette, and theres breakfast! I started work yesterday from 9 to 12, then had a break until 1600 and went back for a presentation on AIDS to a womens group. The presentations are all in the local language Fon, but I do a portion of it in French, relating it to the situation in Canada so that they know that it doesnt only exist in isnt exclusively in Africa. Well do about three presentations per week, otherwise we have work to do on the beekeeping initiative, have meetings with other possible projects, and Im teaching my bosses english twice a week.

Everyone is quite friendly here; always saying bonjour and the kids yell and wave when they see me “yovo!!!!” (whitey!!). The exception weve noticed is white people, who do not greet white people! It is as if I become invisible to people of my own race. At first, Amber and I thought we were crazy, but yesterday I made a point of greeting a white man and he was shocked, saying that he is also usually ignored by whites… and hes been here 24 years!

I should start my walk back home before work… hope you are all well, thank you for your emails and please comment.