Did you miss me? Well, I arrived home safely from my West African adventure, but I almost immediately went on vacation with my family in Hawaii. That means my internal clock was forced to shift backwards in time by 11 hours in less than a week! But I’m not complaining. Though I don’t recommend such a quick turnaround, I had a blast in Maui, which is why I’m just now writing this blog. So, based on my month in Benin, here are some things I learned:
1. There is nothing in the world like a cold bottle of water.
2. Start every day with adventure in mind. Never expect the same old routine! Sometimes a change of plan presents an amazing, new opportunity.
3. A smile, a handshake, and a kind word can be the best medicine, even when you don’t speak the same language.
4. Ask lots of questions! How else will you learn? You may provide fuel for a storyteller’s fire.
5. Not all black-skinned people are the same. Though black Americans share roots with black Africans, that voyage across the ocean made a big difference.
6. Dress the part. If everyone is wearing African fabrics, don’t rock the boat!
8. Though endless courtship may be flattering at first, it gets old rather quickly. Making up a “special someone” back home can come in handy.
9. Don’t be afraid to try new and unfamiliar dishes. Rabbit is actually quite tasty. (Sorry to those with cute furry bunnies in their laps.)
10. “Dieu est grand” or “God is big.” This was kind of the slogan of Benin. And I believe it!
So there you have it. My journey is complete. I’d like to thank Greenheart Travel and SYTO Benin for making this such a memorable experience. If you ever have the chance to visit West Africa, do it! And for my fellow French students out there, don’t forget Ronsard’s mantra: Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.