chinese food and laughter pre-6am

This morning I was up at 5am after nearly 9 hours of sleep. By the time I got to the hotel last night I was not overly coherent and was thankful to make it to 8pm before I gave up and crawled under the fluffy down comforter of the king size bed in my room here in D.C. So at 5 am when I was awake, hungry, and finishing getting caught up on emails and people’s blogs, I grabbed my left over General Tsao’s chicken and stir fry veggies from the window sill (figured they would stay at least a little cold there), and figured I would work on the last blog entry for this trip. That is when I found out that my blog has been updated to ‘new blogger’ and that I do not have access right now. So, this will, like all the other blog entries, be sent to my lovely brother so that he can update it for me… 

What all happened when I was up north and there was silence on the blog? In a nutshell: we took water samples using old technique and a technique that has never been used the way we (successfully) used it, had meetings with the village and the local branch of the water organization I work with to let people know that my trip to Benin in May will be my last and that the project will then be handed over to Steve & Moussa, and I tried to greet as many people as possible. In the capital we managed have more meetings, lots of work with the anthropologist working with the project this year, and do a little bit of shopping. I even managed to get my toes and fingernails painted ‘with designs’ during the day before I flew out.

What does this all mean? For the research and the project, it was a good trip. For me, it was a whirlwind and hard trip. I only got to spend one night in village. I am so thankful for my one moonlit shower and dinner under the stars, but not enough time to just ‘be’ with my friends. It is the beginning of the end for me in Benin. It is hard to hand over a project that so much has been poured into, the schedule exhausting, and sad to think of saying farewell to trusted friends. But it was good to return. It was bittersweet.

My next and final trip is planned for around May 16 or so. I will be in Benin for about three weeks of work followed by one or two weeks of pleasure travel. One or both of my parents (depending on work schedules) will be joining me for that time to meet the people and explore the place that has stolen part of my heart. I hope to see parts of Benin during that time that I have not yet explored and also hope to say a good and proper goodbye to my friends. So, until I return to Benin in a few months, I am signing off.

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