Of Boa Constrictors, Jungles, and Stars

Alli's adventures, mishaps and smiles in Benin

Things I am giving thanks for

on December 10, 2013

Hello everyone,

Here’s my (late) Thanksgiving post and the things I am grateful for (in no particular order).

My post:

I am incredibly lucky with where I’ve been posted. Despite what being in Benin has done to my French, I love it here. I love the region of the country I’m in (by far the prettiest), I love the people, I love my work (most days) and I am incredibly happy here. I could not have asked for a better place to be living right now. Also, I have a really nice house.

The Beninese who have adopted me:

So many wonderful people have adopted me as their own. My host mom is my best resource in this country and I will be eternally grateful for all of her help. My closest friends, who own one of the local bar/restaurants, have truly become a family to me. They feed me, entertain me and accept me as one of their own. My market mama and her family have always been incredibly welcoming not only to me, but to all other volunteers. My school administration is so friendly and supportive. I am incredibly lucky.

My latrine:

I love my latrine. Love love love. I know many of you will find this comment strange but having a latrine like mine is a blessing in this country. Firstly, the latrine is right outside of my house in my closed off private courtyard making it easily accessible at all hours of the day and judgment free in times of (very) internal crisis. It was built for me so it does not smell and is far from filled. As I do not have running water, a latrine does not require I dump loads of water into it daily to flush it and therefore smells less. It’s also super useful as a trashcan.

My close-mates:

Nekima and Sotima. Where would I be without the two of you? (In the madhouse for sure.) These two volunteers, 14km north and south of me respectively, have been my sanity in so many ways. They listen to me freak out, they enter into debates with me, they bring out the nerd in me, and they share my hopes and fears. Though Nekima is sadly no longer 14km north of me, she still allows me to call her for two hours to keep up to date with her life (poor Sotima still deals with me on a weekly basis). Seeing either of you two is always the highlight of my week, even when it involves a chicken’s head. As with most things in life, in PC it’s luck of the draw whom you’re posted near (if anyone) and I won the lottery with you two. Thank you both so much.

My cat (duh):

Oh Chester, my Chester. My crazy, wild, feline love. You sleep on my neck and drool in my hair and yet I love you like crazy. Though you may randomly jump on my back when it’s turned to you (thankfully I’m too big for you to eat), you are in so many ways my sanity. Despite coming home to a lunatic, it’s nice to know that I am not returning home to an empty house. Your company truly keeps me sane. Plus, you’re really funny on catnip.

My health:

I am incredibly grateful for my good health. At my mid-service health check up I was given a clean bill of health, meaning no parasites, giardia or amoebas were found (yet). While I have had food poisoning five times (one of those times was my fault), I am in incredibly good shape overall and I hope it continues.

My PCV friends:

I have the best PCV friends a girl can ask for. I would like to give a shout out to my two travel buddies in the South who know way too much about me (don’t deadbeat me, please!). I seriously owe my sanity to these two. Moving north, the Atacora/Donga region of Benin is home to some of the most incredible people I have ever met (we only get the best in this region). These are the people who I see most often, when I am at the regional workstation, and are the people I communicate regularly with. While those Atacora/Donga volunteers who have left are greatly missed, the newbies are fitting in wonderfully.

My American friends:

Oh, Mpo, Little Miss Greek, Boy Alex, Burby-bear, Bahrain buddy, Scootles and Poodef. Thank you all for keeping in contact with me. Thank you for updating me on your lives in the US, for listening to my fears and worries and at least considering visiting me (especially Scootles who did visit). I miss you all and I appreciate your friendship from the bottom of my heart. If you do not see your name on this list, please add yourself by sending me a fb message! I cannot guarantee a prompt response, but I assure you, your news will make me a happy girl.

My students (particularly my 7th graders):

Students. Some days you love them and some days they are the bane of your existence. Overall teaching is far easier this year than it was last year. One of the three classes I teach this year is made up of my students from last year and it is to them that I am most grateful. There are so many bright, promising future kids in this class and they give me hope for the future of Benin. This class also understands my teaching style and knows how to push my buttons but I know I will miss the kids from this class most of all in a few short months. 

My electricity:

My electricity is a fickle thing. It does not like to stay working. I cannot tell you how many different electricians I have gone through trying to solve an apparently unsolvable problem. Due to this, I am incredibly grateful when it is working. It allows my one light bulb to glow (the others don’t work and I haven’t found a competent electrician), but most importantly it allows me to charge my cellphone (read: my lifeline), my laptop, ipod, kindle and use my fan (which serves as not only a cooling device but as a noise canceling device).

My overall lot in life:

This may sound trite, but I am incredibly grateful for my lot in life. I have more opportunities for health and success in life than many people do. I have a wonderful support network and I have been fortunate enough to study at wonderful schools and travel the world.

And lastly…

The things I took for granted:

Oh, Yovotome. You hold such incredibly things, such as noise ordinances, paved roads, supermarkets and fast food. I hope to never again take for granted the convenience life within your borders provides. But mostly, I appreciate cheese. I miss you, feta, so very, very much.

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3 responses to “Things I am giving thanks for

  1. Shalayne Pillar says:

    Miss you Alli! Sounds like everything is going well 😀 I love you blog!

  2. Al Coritz says:

    Miss you Bubs…Glad you’re happy & well. Also very proud of you! 🙂 :-*

  3. Haneen says:

    Love this post! Finally caught up to reading all of your blog. It’s great to hear about your life and your experiences. I still need to update you on my life! Coming. Soon. 🙂

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