Stage is going well. The stagiaires are so fucking enthusiastic, sometimes, I just don’t know what to do with them.
Marjie and I were talking the other night, and she pointed out how incredible it is that we’ve come so far. Sometimes post is incredibly frustrating, even for those who are in love with their communities (like Marjie), and it’s reassuring to see how many things we’re comfortable with, compared to where we were when we arrived.
We can catch zems. Hell, we can ride zems. We can bargain in the markets. We’re comfortable catching bush taxis. We know when street food is going to make us sick. We drink (or don’t drink) the water. We’re confident asking for directions to find the local hooch. We can tell the difference between a well tied and a sloppily tied pagne, and the quality of the fabric (and probably how much it cost). We can joke around with barmaids and know how to diffuse uncomfortable situations with men.
Most obviously, though, we’re not afraid to express our wants and desires. We may not always be bien integeré, but each and every one of us has spent the last year navigating Beninese culture and figuring out how to live here.
It’s also a great reality check. I’ve only got a year left, and I’ve got SO FAR left to go. I’ve been here a year, and I’ve accomplished a lot, but not nearly as much as I wanted. So I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to get it all done in the 13 months I’ll have at post when I get back from working stage.
I think it’ll be fun.
P.S. Yes, I am still alive. Clearly.