On crossing borders
Yesterday, I smuggled an empty gas bottle over the border so I could exchange it for a full one. Well, technically I didn’t do the smuggling, I paid someone to do it. As L put it: “When you know a guy who know a guy who can get you what you need in under 24 hours.. you are definitely bien intégrée.” Although I didn’t cross the border myself, I did have to dodge semi-trucks and zemijohns (moto taxis) across a four-lane busy stretch of the Route Nationale, carrying my gas bottle to et it to my “contact.” I felt pretty cool. Even more than cool, I felt relieved. Huzzah I can cook again!
Because it’s the petite dry season, there isn’t a lot of coal or wood available for cookfires so more people are using up gas, but businesses here aren’t terribly good at predicting market fluctuations – even in the face of decades of experience that August will always have higher demand. I boiled my water with coal for 3 days trying to find someone who could replace my tank. As an aside, let me just say that smoked turkey, smoky cheddar, etc. are all lovely, Smoked oatmeal on the other hand is just nasty. The taste of my smoky boiled water for three days finally drove me to the above-described smuggling.
Although I personally didn’t carry the bottle over the Western border to Ghana, I did cross the Eastern border recently. On the 22nd, just after the swear-in of the new CHAP and SED training group, I headed over to Grand PoPo in Benin under orders from A, a CHAPer who just finished her service. It was H, A, N, A, N, A and myself of course. (Hmm that list is incomprehensible in initials.) Grand PoPo was gorgeous and so relaxed. It was exactly what I needed after 3 weeks of camp and a stressful week in Lomé doing scholarship administration, saying goodbyes and hellos. We lay on the beach, played in the sometimes frighteningly strong waves and drank alcoholic beverages out of coconuts in a clean little hotel filled not only with reggae music but also with murals of Rastafarian greats and their philosophies.
It was blissful and put me on good footing for getting back into the village groove.