Well.. this week was pretty crazy!
After the swear in ceremony last Friday we had some time to check out Cotonou and go to Erevan (which is a giant target like store where you can buy most anything American.. if you have the money.. except for apparently hot sauce) it smelled like America.. and I might have cried a little upon walking though the automatic door. Then we went back home to pack our bags and to move out of Porto Novo. A year later I arrived here.. just in time to write this post!!
Saturday morning I loaded all of my things into a peace corps vehicle.. and then my bags were taken away from me a put into the top secret peace corps storage area. I held onto my newly acquired Erevan pillow... my little red airplane blanket (that I currently consider the best purchase I have ever made in my life)... 1 “clean” shirt.. and all of the things I didn't want to hand over to the peace corps for fear of never seeing my luggage again (my photo book and electronics). I was going to Kloukanme (with another volunteer who couldn't move in yet) to visit a volunteer and to experience the work that environmental volunteers do (things are starting to feel redundant here)... and I would be back in Porto Novo to get my stuff and move in to my new home on Tuesday!! (We had a lot of fun in Kloukanme... the volunteer who hosted us was amazing.. and we learned how to bake cakes using the pot that PC gave us for boiling our water!!)
Come Thursday morning.. I still hadn't moved into my house (or changed my clothes). Because of a taxi strike... I didn't leave Kloukanme until Wednesday and then stayed in Cotonou until Thursday morning. When I got here to Misserete I unloaded all of my things.. only to find out my house had not been paid for and if the money wasn't given to them that day that I would be loading my stuff back into a taxi and searching for a new house. AT THIS POINT IT IS NECESSARY TO THANK MY AMAZING PROGRAM MANAGER FOR FINDING THE MONEY AND HAVING SOMEONE DRIVE OVER WITH IT FROM COTONOU ASAP THAT AFTERNOON. I was able to take a nap in my house.. but I waited to start unpacking until the papers were signed.. because you never know. Luckily the money showed up and I was able to settle in.
It is a really huge relief to finally be able to unpack all of my things and set up my house... I was given a lot of furniture and kitchen supplies by the volunteer who I am replacing and another volunteer who lived near by.. for which I am very grateful!! However my lovely predecessor left the commune today.. and it really is a shock to finally be on my own.. away from all of the people I trained with... and not having someone to ask questions to all the time.. I still don't have this culture completely figured out... and I have a lot of trouble communicating (even when my french is correct). I also know that this is a really bizarre thing to complain about but my absolutely gorgeous house is way too big for me.. and it is making me feel extra lonely.. and its a little hard to feel integrated when you feel so fancy.
I spent my weekend walking around my neighborhood (I only got really lost once!)... setting up my house... transporting furniture.. and going to the Marche... on Sunday I made a trip to visit my host family in Porto Novo and to go the the grocery store since it is near their house anyway. It is nice to have something familiar so close by... its strange to think that not even three months ago that their house was so alien to me.
Tomorrow is a meeting at the CeRPA office.. and then I am going to sit down and plan out a schedule at least for the next few weeks. I have so much to do!! The trick is figuring out who is supposed to be taking me where and working with me on what :-/ at least for the start I need someone to go to the groupments with me especially since I am going to need a translator for a lot of the work (preferably one who can understand my horrible french).