Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy Holidays 2013

Last week I spent my second (and last) Christmas in Grand Popo.

As always Popo was wonderful. Everyone had a great time - a much smaller and more low key group than last year – which is probably a good thing. I am perfectly happy just relaxing on the beach enjoying the sound of the ocean, sun on my skin, and sand in my hair. I hope to get to go back to Grand Popo at least one more time before I finish my service, it really is my favorite place in Benin (Admin if you read this – COS conference.. please?)

I hope that those of you who celebrated this year, had an amazing time with your loved ones at home. I can't wait to be there next year!!! Thank you (again) for the holiday cards and Christmas treats that I received from home. <3

This coming week is the New Year. 2014.  For me the turning of the year is a time of reflection – and here in Benin the year has sure given me a lot to reflect on. I have a postcard on my wall that says “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” I am lucky enough, at this point in my life, that that I can say I do new things almost every day.

I started off my year right, a New Years meal in a friends village where we shared culture exchange through food. Followed the week after by the annual voodoo fete (I celebrated here in Misserete) with two of my close-mates, sitting on the VIP stage with Voodoo Priests, Village Chiefs, and Kings. I learned Goun, and I perfected Peace Corps Gourmet. I taught farming groups to grow new crops, and grew traditional crops with primary school students. I went on a Safari where we were charged at by an elephant, we went on a boat ride that was uncomfortably close to a family of hippos, and even saw lions. I road tripped through Togo and Ghana, getting a chance to see West African culture outside of Benin. Joined my new Japanese friends in traditional Beninese dance classes. Throughout the year I hosted many volunteer's at my house in Misserete and created uncountable memories. I was selected for the Peer Support Network, joined the Volunteer Advisory Committee, and formed an Amour et Vie team in my village. I befriended a wonderful kitten named Papaya, who does his best to make sure I am never lonely. I had to say goodbye, as some of the new friends left to return to American life, but I also was able to welcome many new friends, as my village hosted a new group of Peace Corps Environment Action Trainees over  the summer. For me 25 was a year of much growth. I worked hard and learned a lot about myself. I have become more confident and also more flexible. I became engaged and I am also a very proud new Aunt. 2013 is definitely a year I will never forget. All I can do is hope that 2014 is just as amazing and full of excitement and happy news.

Happy New Year Everyone

<3 Z

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