Me: Lyle, do you know where I can buy cigarettes?
Lyle: Do I look like the Lonely fucking Planet?
Turns out, going up north for a few days was a pretty good idea. Saw a lot of people. Got a lot of work done. Cooked a lot of good food (OMFG it was amazing). Basically, it was a typical Peace Corps get-together. Not at all surprisingly, we ICT volunteers have strong and differing opinions on How Things Should Be Done. Despite that, we managed to get a fair amount decided.
While there, I got to participate in a pretty fun northern custom . . . Chooking!! And what is chooking? Imagine a big open market, except instead of stalls, there are 30 to 50 squares outlined in cement. These cement squares are just about the right height and width to serve as benches. Inside each square is a woman hovering over a bucket, with a bunch of bowls sitting beside her. People are sitting on the benches, and she dispenses a mildly alcoholic beverage (fermented millet) into bowls and passes them around. After a few rounds with one lady, you pay, pack up, and move to the next lady, where you’ll probably end up buying a round for everyone there, but it’s okay, because they’ll buy yours next. A decent sized bowl (about half a cup) is 50CFA (10 cents). The whole marché is friendly, boisterous, and a great time. I can’t wait to go back with less people (not that I don’t love my fellow PCVs, but it’s tough to meet people when you’re in a crowd of 10 yovos).
Also enjoyable was Trivial Pursuit, which I’m not good at, and Spoons, which I am good at. I was really happy to meet the volunteers in the region. It’s kind of sad that just as PSL-18 is arriving, and getting to meet all sorts of fascinating people, PSL-16 is packing up to leave, but that’s the way life goes, I guess.
Anyway, travelling this weekend was fantastic, but by the end, I was ready to get back to post. I mean, I had a blast, but there’s just nothing like coming back to my own place. Last night, I got home, dropped off my crap, took out the trash (which stank), and went searching for food. It was really reassuring that everyone I usually saluer stopped me to ask where I’d been.
PS to all the parents: Carrie’s fine and very tan. Lisa’s fine and ate really well last week. Sara M. is down in Cotonou. Katie is doing well and has a million funny stories (as if that’s any sort of surprise). Ben is much healthier now than he was in stage, although he definitely should avoid cutting his own hair. And Lyle is, of course, doing well.