This morning, you woke up in Africa.
The first of two dry seasons has begun in Cotonou. The ground is no longer cooled by daily rains and that during the day, the sun beats down through humidity that isn’t quite thick enough to cause rain fall. Like during the long dry season, everyone suddenly remembers why there’s a two and a half hour break in the middle of each day. The punishing heat from the sun impedes work and enjoyment alike. But before the sun comes up, and after the sun goes down, the air is fresh and cool. You can breathe in, and just for a moment, let yourself fall into sentimentality and clichés.
It’s dawn, the beginning of a new day. You wake up, stretch, and push aside your mosquito net. You wrap yourself in your pagneand push your hair out of your face. Sleep still in your eyes, you stretch, enjoying the cool breeze over your bare shoulders. You pad to the door, wincing at the loud clink ca-chunk as you open the deadbolt. You sweep your hand along your table, looking for cigarettes and matches, then step outside onto the balcony.
You’re an early riser, but not the first awake in your building. The sun is rising over rooftops and you can hear the sound of sweeping as hundreds of wives and girls across the city wake-up and begin their daily chores. You wave to the girls already drawing water from the well for the day’s laundry. They wave back, as used to your morning routine as you are. As you light your cigarette, you pause and thank the Lord that you were born American. The nicotein is coursing through your system, and you smile wide.
It’s a new day. You’re living your dream, and whatever may come during the day, you’ll have the peace of each morning to get you through it.