They came, they saw, and they didn’t get sick! Thanks to bottled water and many a Beninoise (read: $1, 40+ oz beer), I did my best to keep Mom and Dad hydrated and happy. They got to experience all the realities of Benin – from delicious exotic fruits and spicy foods, to bucket baths and vulture zem drivers. And they came out relatively unscathed!
Everyone in village was thrilled to meet Mama Michelle, and Dad was thrilled to finally meet my crazy cat. Mom freaked out over tiny little lizards and Dad took pictures of them. Mom spoke French with a Georgia Peach twang (“Maaayer-see!”), and Dad affectionately rechristened cities of which he couldn’t pronounce the names (“Natitingou” will forever be, in my mind, “Nitty Titty Bingo”). It was a typical family reunion, except there were hippos and lions, and we ran 2 marathons between the three of us.
I posted pictures here, with some captions about what we did, and have invited them both to comment below about their take on Benin.
Having my parents here was wonderful beyond description; I feel so grateful that they made it all this way to see me, as I know Benin was never high on their list of dream vacations... But showing them the way I live my life here allowed them to better understand what I am learning and doing as a PCV, and that will be valuable long after these two years are over. Now, the challenge is to readjust from the comfort of unconditional love and support of having my family here, to the loneliness and unpredictability of life in village.
Despite my intentions to hit the ground running after vacation, it’s been tough to get back into the swing of things. I’m still trying to establish environmental clubs at the primary and secondary schools, as well as a series of nutrition and food security seminars for preschool mothers. My efforts are met with many a “come back tomorrow”’s and “we’ll see”’s, but I’m doing my best. The girls’ club is now a solid group of interested young ladies, the girls’ camp planning continues, and a few women in village are preparing for me to help them plant trees and grow the “exotic” things I plant in my garden – carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers. It’s a bit daunting when there isn’t much planned ahead, but I’m learning, as always, how to greet each day with patience and an open mind.