You know how Wednesday is often one of the hardest days of the week? Monday is hard in its own way, but at least you’re coming off of the weekend so you’re kind of recharged. Wednesday, however, is sandwiched there in the middle of Tuesday and Thursday with the last weekend fading from your memory and the next weekend seemingly far in the distance. It’s the “hump day”–Wednesday often feels very long, but once you get through it, the remainder of the week goes much more easily. I feel like I’m on the Wednesday of training right now. I’m at the point where being here isn’t as new and exciting as it was at first, but I also still have a month until I move to my posts, so I’m just stuck here trying to get through the middle of the metaphorical week.
This Wednesday feeling has brought a bit of minor homesickness. Today is a cloudy, humid day and I woke up thinking that it would be the perfect day to go chill out at a cafe and drink some coffee and/or a smoothie (smoothies are definitely the thing I miss most at this point) while reading a good book. Unfortunately, as you might guess, there are no cafes of that sort in Porto Novo. Obviously I know this but I haven’t been able to shake the feeling of wanting to go to one. Isn’t that strange? What a random thing to miss so strongly. Overall I am really enjoying living here, but it’s little things that I miss.
It’s also a bit tough because I know that Porto Novo isn’t going to be my long-term home. On the one hand, I want to meet people who live near me and build relationships and train the children to call me by name instead of screaming “yovo” every time I pass, but on the other hand, it takes time and effort to do that, and that’s a lot of energy to expend when I know I’m just going to have to do the same thing again in my new village next month. I am starting to get to know the city a bit better, though, and I’m finding that I kind of like it once I get off the main roads. Walking around the neighborhoods where people actually live is like being able to feel the pulse of a city, and I like getting to know the area in an intimate way like that. It also feels like people are a bit more calm as one moves away from the downtown area, which I think bodes well for what the smaller towns/villages will be like.
I’ve switched from my Tuesday blog day because I found a superior internet cafe pretty near my house. But I’ve still been using the internet less lately than I did at the beginning of stage. I just feel like every time I get online, I become so frustrated with the things I can’t accomplish that it isn’t really worth it. So I’m shifting to a more complete reliance on snail mail (though I’m obviously still going to update the blog). Mail delivery has not necessarily been the most reliable thing, but I have also gotten some letters ridiculously quickly (9 calendar days from postmark in the US to my hands–not bad at all!). I’m not sure how fast mail is traveling from me to the states, but I’ve heard that it’s arriving eventually.
As far as cultural integration goes, I’m still working on parts of that. I walked out of our house today to find my host mom in the process of cutting up two goats’ heads to use in a stew. This reminded me of how glad I am that I don’t eat meat. At times I consider abandoning the vegetarian thing when I move to my village for the sake of integrating better, but after that little experience today I’m not feeling so excited about that idea after all. It’s cool and a good use of resources that they use all parts of the animal so fully (and my host mom says that people here consider the stuff that we don’t eat to be the best parts of the animal), but I’m just a bit grossed out by it. Which I guess is probably partially due to the fact that it’s new for me to be seeing the meat-getting process so up close and personal. This isn’t unique to me, since in the states even if one eats meat, there’s a good chance that one will never see the meat in the actual form of a dead animal because it will be purchased already packaged or possibly prepared. I have a feeling I’m going to be getting a lot more familiar with this stuff as my time here goes on, though.
Anyway, not a ton else to report so I’m going to keep this post short. This coming week we get to visit a health center and weigh babies as part of our training. I’m pretty excited about that. Baby weighings are a really simple way to catch malnutrition in the early stages and intervene to save lives, so we’ll actually be doing something useful as well as getting to hang out with a bunch of cute babies. Excellent! So, hope all is well. Peace and love until next time:)