This is our first report in 2010. We hope that all of you had a good start in the new year. Both of us are healthy and we really enjoy being here, once in a while our stomachs refuse african food … but this is manageable:-) No worries!
Before the holiday season started, we had several projects going on at school. One of them was the week of exams. Each class had to write all exams within three days. In order to get this done, all the teachers of one subject met to discuss and decide about the tests. It was a tough job to agree upon the “right” questions:-) For the pupils – we guess – it was even harder to pass the exams – not only because of the questions mainly because of the circumstances within the school: way too many pupils in one class, extreme heat … only little water …
Although this is most likely not the best way to pass exams, we simply had to follow the rules … no way to step out of line. So we did prepare everything the best way we could – ending up to correct 150 papers per subject.
The next project promised far more fun: science day. The project team included one of our colleagues and a French family with three little children who stopped by on their six months trip through West Africa. The job was to create posters and banners on all different kind of subjects. All day long students stepped by and learned about computers, biological themes such as e.g. pregnancy, satellites, our solar system and mother earth. We ourselves got to know a lot about several physical experiments.
Since this project was quite a success we decided to have another project day in February: Literature will be the theme! Our families – who will come to visit us in Benin – will support us.
The very last days before Christmas students were asked to help finishing the new school building. They were carrying sand and earth in bowls from a huge burrow. By the end of the day they were exhausted, but they did a great job!!! We suppose that the new building will be ready to use within a couple of days.
After all we were happy to enjoy some days off. Holidays started with Christmas. On Christmas Eve – Holy Night – we went to the Catholic Church here in Alédjo with our sister Pascaline. We had a wonderful time during service. We ate “igname – frittes”. We really experienced the first “christmas-ish” moments in Africa: beautiful candlelight, the sound of drums and the children singing – both of us were deeply impressed and touched while celebrating the Holy Night. Later, back home, we unwrapped our presents that had arrived the day before from our families. That night we sat outside on our terrace for a long time, talking about our african experiences …
The next day we had lunch with our African family. Muslims, protestants and catholics celebrating all together – good to see! We’ve had a great time.
But what are holidays without a holiday trip? We left Alédjo December, 26 to visit our brother Nick in Nikki, a small town close to the nigerian border. We enjoyed a bumby ride, changed taxis four times and arrived safe at our final destination:-) In Nikki we visited the small palace and watched the traditional horse guard. From Nikki we went on to Parakou, the third biggest town in Benin. There we had the chance to tour Parakou University. The buildings look very similar to the one in Cotonou – both of them were built with the donation of the president of Libya.
Within our five month stay in Benin we’ve already made a lot of friends. So there was no need for us to stay in hotels during our trip. At Parakou we stayed with our colleague from school (Rachidi, maths- and physics teacher) who visited his family. Parakou is a very pretty town: many parks, green areas and only little air pollution. That gives the town a special atmosphere. In the evenings we ate and drank outdoors, had inspiring conversations and discussions, danced and simply enjoyed African nightlife. All in all a great unforgettable experience!
Traveling in Africa always means traveling in the heat! Temperatures was up to 40 degrees! Luckily we’ve found a hotel with a big swimming pool. Together with Nick and Rachidi we spent a refreshing and relaxing afternoon:-) We were surprised to see that the guys didn’t enjoy the water as much as we did. The legs of the strong young men seem to turn to jelly ….
We returned to Alédjo to celebrate New Year with our family. Unlike to our Germany New Year celebration Africans take their time … an hour passed midnight we were lucky not to miss the sparkling wine. The midnight menue was kind of surprising … a specially prepared pack rat. Happy New Year!
New Year’s Day is a big fiesta! Our family invited all the teachers. It turned out – just like it is in a men-dominated culture – all the teachers arrived without their women! Our “Mum wasn’t pleased to see this happen. In her very unique strong manner she send them back home and ask them to come back with their wives. In the end we were all celebrating together – another great day for us in Benin. Thanks to the people in Aledjo and especially to our family here – they really make us feel home!
A very exciting and a very special time- we don’t want to miss any second that has passed.
In February our parents and brothers will come and visit us. We are already very excited! Hopefully they will enjoy their stay as much as we!
This is it for toady! It is time to say Happy New Year! We hope the freezing temperatures won’t bother you too much.
“Warmest” regards and a bit of sunshine to all of you!
Sincerely, yours Anne and Nadja