I've been thinking today about acclimatization. Partly because of the heat/humidity here, and partly because I'm curious how long it takes to feel comfortable in a new place. Rome was easy and felt familiar, not just because it's a Western country, but because we had spent time in France and Italy 3 years ago, and it was fun to see a new part of the country and remember all of the things we loved about it (gelato, pasta, pesto, food in general, the kindness of Italians toward children, gelato, cobblestone streets, gelato). Eden also mentioned that in Rome there are many cute boys. :)
In our family, I am definitely the packer/planner/detail person on the getting ready end. But Derek is the master of figuring out a place when we get there. Maps, public transportation, grocery shopping - he thrives on figuring out all of these things. And I like someone to take me by the hand for a bit until I get my bearings. Which I still don't have, but I guess it's only been one day.
Benin is another world. I'm searching my past experiences: India, Indonesia, Morocco - but none of them are Benin. I'm pleasantly surprised by the traffic here - it's much more controlled than, say, India.
Today we went to visit 2 primary schools in villages near Cotonou, the main city in Benin where we're staying. At the first school, the children were outside for recess and our arrival caused quite a stir. White people are not often seen in these parts, and the children started chanting "yo-vo, yo-vo, yo-vo" which means "white person, white person, white person." Apparently it's not a negative term, just one that identifies us as "other." Just imagine hundreds of little children chanting this and surrounding you and poking you, and you'll know how Zoe and Eden felt. They said afterwards that they felt like movie stars.
|our welcoming committee at recess time|
It was a good, full morning. We spent the afternoon resting from the heat and from full minds - full of new sights, smells, sounds, friends. Here are some pictures from the day.
|families on motorcycles|
|teachers at the primary school|
|students who are Zoe's age|
|students who are Eden's age|
|drinking coconut water on the way back|