Animals. Interesting and exquisite creatures. We, as humans, have animal instincts that tell us when we have needs such as food, water, and companionship. Or when we are upset, angry, or happy. At times we aren't governed by our mind but instead our instinctual inner beings. I have learned to not only to listen to my instincts but also rely on them as a way of survival. For example, there is an older man who lives in my village who speaks a little English and some French as well. The volunteer who I replaced was best friends with him and he quickly became attached to me, helping me with little things and more importantly making me feel less alone during my first few days. As soon as I moved into my house I needed to get new screens put on my windows and also I wanted some pieces of furniture made to make my house more cozy and inviting.
The carpenter in my village does not speak French so the older man insisted on being the liaison between us.
Mistake number one.
I also paid up from to the carpenter after giving him a list of all the things I wanted.
Mistake number two.
After receiving doors for my bookshelf "because my books might get dirty" to quote the older man who placed the order for me when I in no way hinted that I wanted doors for my bookshelf, which I deem to be the most ludicrous thing to ask for when you are living in Africa, I didn't say anything.
Mistake number three.
What is that old saying, "Three strikes and you're out".
What made me snap? Oh yes, yes I snapped. The straw that broke the camels back came in the form of two chairs. But they weren't just any two chairs.They are two chairs in which I specifically had asked the old man to tell the carpenter that I did not want. So one day he came by and we had a Beninese argument. A Beninese argument is as fast as lighting a match. He thought I had accused him of cheating me, I expressed my unhappiness. We eventually just said ca va, ca va (at that point it translated to okay, its fine) and it ended with him asking me for a gift and me crying at my kitchen table. Since that experience I see the old man around the village but we both keep are distance. My instincts tell me now, if you want something done you got to do it yourself. What a blessing in disguise because that lesson has been. From that experience I have learned that I can trust other people within my village and I can trust myself.
So, what else is left to do then to go out and make some friends. That of course is the best medicine to cure loneliness. Everyday I ventured out and sat with people and tried to engage them in a little French and the little Mahi that I know or we would just sit and stare at each other.One day just venturing around the village I found two women sitting together making a traditional dish called "pot". Clearly, they are a little older than me body and spirit. They didn't speak much French however we shared smiles and laughs. I realized although we mostly have silence, it is a comfortable silence that keeps me coming back at the same time every evening right before I buy dinner at a local stand. I have a found an interesting place among these women who are older then my parents but younger then my grandmother. They don't ask anything of me yet would offer up the shirt off their backs in a second if I asked. It is hard to explain but I feel a sense of "home" when I am with them and it is the best feeling one can ask for when so far from it.
One of the women whom I have become such good friends has a son who attends the CEG( high school) where I work. He has been helping me a lot with local language and listens patiently to my constant questions and poor French. One Sunday I went to church with him and his mom which was quite an interesting experience. I believe we went to an Evangelical Church which was delivered all in my local language for a total of three hours. I was slightly scared of the Pastor, couldn't understand any of the service, and felt nothing of the spirit of God unless you want to count a severe thirst and perspiration. But I had a moment, I looked around the dark, cramped room in which I saw people of all ages praying for something, clearly not perfect people but yet asking for something from someone. I decided that not only would I do my best to talk to God ,or whoever I was supposed to be talking to, and ask him/her for not only courage, strength, and patience with my new and old African friends.